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Long Beach School Board Member Named Urban Educator of the Year

Veteran Long Beach school board member Felton Williams was selected as the Urban Educator of the Year on Thursday.

The Green-Garner Award is handed out annually at the fall convening of superintendents, school board members, and top district officials from school districts that are members of the Council of Great City Schools, the Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents 68 mostly urban school systems and the state of Hawaii.

The council's annual gathering tlongbeach board member.jpghis year in Cleveland was especially notable for its keynote speaker, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Gates Foundation Bill Gates, who announced that over the next five years the foundation will invest about $1.7 billion in K-12 education.

The foundation will also be shifting its education philanthropy approach, moving away from directly investing in initiatives rooted in teacher-evaluations. The foundation was—and continues to be—a strong supporter of the Common Core State Standards, Gates said.

Gates said about 60 percent of the investments will go toward supporting curricular and about 30 networks of schools that are identifying local problems and solutions and using data for continuous learning.

The foundation will start with high-needs districts in six to eight states and then expand from there. Some districts (or networks) that could potentially benefit include the CORE districts in California—Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana—and LIFT Network in Tennessee, which includes schools in both rural and urban districts, such as Metro Nashville and Shelby County school systems.

About 15 percent of the funding over the next five years will go toward charter schools, he said.

(For complete coverage of Gates' speech and the implications for K-12 see Education Week's report by Francisco Vara-Orta.)

The award to Williams is named after Richard Green, the first African-American schools chancellor in New York City, and Edward Garner, a former Denver school board member. The award, which alternates each year between a school board member and a superintendent, comes with a $10,000 college scholarship to a student in the winner's district.

Last year's award went to Eric Gordon, the CEO of the Cleveland School District.

Williams, an immediate past-chairman of the council, was among the 11 school board members up for this year's honor.

He has been an integral part of Long Beach's Academic and Career Success Initiative, which the school board adopted in 2007 to boost college and career readiness among its students, efforts to increase the number of students of color in Advanced Placement courses, and the launching of the district's ethnic studies program in 2015.

Photo caption: Felton Williams, Long Beach school board member, was given the Urban Educator of the Year Award at the Council of the Great City Schools fall gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 19. --Clarence Tabb Jr.

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