Edit ModuleShow Tags

Blueprint Baby


Published:

(page 1 of 5)

Recess! Dee Lyon’s second-graders flew to the treeless inner-city school playground like birds landing on a prison exercise yard. One child held back. A tall African-American girl whose guarded eyes looked older than her years, Cielo* towered over her younger classmates, embarrassed by her age, ashamed of her secret. While the younger kids shook out their yah-yahs on the first day of school, Cielo approached her new teacher.

“Mrs. Lyon,” she whispered, shamefaced. “Did you know I did first grade two times?”

Lyon’s heart contracted. Cielo’s previous teachers had warned of the child’s frequent absences, family problems and poor concentration. After three years of schooling, the last spent in an “open classroom,” Cielo was still reading at a kindergarten level. But to Lyon, she seemed paradoxically mature and intelligent, streetwise and illiterate. Lyon looked into the girl’s deep brown eyes. “Cielo, we’re not going to worry. This year is going to be a good year.”

“But I’m not smart!” Cielo cried, eyes welling up. “I can’t read.”

It was September 2000, a tumultuous year in Superintendent Alan Bersin’s campaign to advance San Diego city schools to the vanguard of urban school reform in America. In 1998, Bersin and New York education maven Anthony Alvarado dynamited the cracked foundations of the school district and rushed to construct a new system based on reading, writing and mathematics. Their revolutionary and explosive reforms were later formalized in a plan called the Blueprint for Student Success. The Blueprint provoked a storm of protests, led by teachers’ union president Marc Knapp. Thousands of teachers, especially the veterans, resented being told they didn’t know what they were doing and being forced to participate in “re-education camps.”

Cielo’s classmates had started kindergarten in September 1998, the first year of Bersin’s administration. They were the first class to be taught to read and write according to strategies later outlined in the Blueprint. These “Blueprint babies” were now entering second grade.

This is the story of the reforms through the eyes of one student, Cielo; her second-grade teacher, Dee Lyon; and Angela Bass, principal of Encanto Elementary School. Encanto is a microcosm of the battle for school reform in San Diego city schools—itself a bellwether of the future of school reform in urban districts across America.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego's Top 50 Trails

From hiking the foothills to biking the beach, this is a city made for exploring outdoors. Here’s our latest, greatest checklist of trails we love—some in your own backyard

The Best of North County 2015

Our annual homage to the newest restaurants, shops, and activities keeping the region above I-56 the cool place it is—haute strip malls, million-dollar tract homes, and all!

San Diego's Top Dentists 2015

This list includes listings for over 450 dentists and specialists in the San Diego metropolitan area
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote now: Best Restaurants 2015
    From best chefs to top tacos, you choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 63 categories
  2. 27 Reasons to Love San Diego
    Our annual list of all things San Diego and rad—from kiteboarding to urban farming to a city-wide book club
  3. San Diego's Top 50 Trails
    From hiking the foothills to biking the beach, this is a city made for exploring outdoors. Here’s our latest, greatest checklist of trails we love—some in your own backyard
  4. I Tried It: The New Jazzercise
    When I hear the word “Jazzercise,” neon leotards, leg warmers, headbands, and old ladies come to mind
  5. Get Fit & Have Fun in San Diego
    From doggie bootcamps to intense bodybuilding programs, it’s an exciting time to get in shape. What are you waiting for?
  6. 2015 Best of North County Party
    Sample, sip and party along with the best that North County has to offer at this signature event.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

La Jolla Music Society Events

The La Jolla Music Society's 2015 Calendar
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

'Tis The Season

Winter in the desert cities

100 Works of Art to See Before You Die in San Diego

Local art critics, museum directors, and the big kahunas of the art world picked their must-see paintings, sculptures, and buildings with a special checklist just for you
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags