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 Best Restaurants 2017

The top tacos, chicken wings, seafood, burgers, kid-friendly eateries, breweries, and more

The New Downtown: A Guide to San Diego's Most Happening Neighborhood

We're delving into the new restaurants, cultural events, and businesses that are making downtown a destination

San Diego's Best Boutique Fitness 2017

We've sweated through the top yoga, barre, Pilates, and boot camp classes, and are rounding up our favorites
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best of North County 2017
    We scouted the greatest, buzzworthiest things to do, see, sip, and taste north of the 56
  2. A Beer-Lover’s Special (and Very Limited) Beer Alternative
    Cidre Brut, a Génépi-infused cider created by the US Grant Hotel, is a one-of-a-kind taste experience
  3. Jason Mraz Is Growing Coffee on a Farm in Oceanside
    We spoke to the musician about all the whys — why food, why farming, why Oceanside, why coffee?
  4. 89 Things to Do With Your Kids in San Diego
    Camps, classes, and activities for San Diego’s youngest—and perhaps busiest—residents
  5. 10 Scenic Hikes Within an Hour of San Diego
    You’ve mastered all the trails in your area—now plan a Saturday to get outside for a hike and enjoy the views just a bit farther afield
  6. The Flower Fields Debuts a New Bloom
    This year the Carlsbad icon introduces a historic poinsettia display
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.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

9 Reasons You Need a Better Barber

Get the look and service you deserve at this East Village salon

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags