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 Breakfast

Whether you lean savory or sweet, light or indulgent, boozy or caffeinated, there’s an a.m. meal for every taste. It’s time to rise and dine!

68 Great Date Ideas

Upgrade your evening plans with these ideas for where to take your partner and what to do when you get there

Reasons to Love San Diego Right Now

Our fifth annual feel-good, intentionally boastful list of all things SD
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List
    Whether you’re a native or a newcomer, we’ve got 50 things every San Diegan must do. Now, get started!
  2. 26 BIG Ideas
    San Diego's most innovative thinkers tell us how they would make America’s Finest City a whole lot finer.
  3. Be Seen This Fall in Rancho Mirage
    Enter To Win a 2 Night Stay Package at The Luxurious Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
  4. FIRST LOOK: Kindred
    Death metal vegan has arrived in San Diego. From the creative minds behind Craft & Commerce, Noble Experiment, LOVELIKEBEER—plus one of the country's top vegan chefs—comes Kindred. It's in South Park. It's gonna blow some minds.
  5. FIRST LOOK: The Crack Shack
    After the huge success of Juniper & Ivy, chef Richard Blais and owner Michael Rosen launch all-day, ethical-chicken breakfast joint called The Crack Shack. Could this be the McDonald's for the food- and ethics-conscious foodie generation?
  6. San Diego's Best New Restaurants 2015
    From upscale modern Mexican to a hole-in-the-wall Thai spot, food critic Troy Johnson reveals his 10 favorite new eateries of 2015
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

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

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.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

“Will You Marry Me”?

Sharon Jenks, CEO of 6 Degrees, on building business relationships

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

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.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags