If all schools in America led Latino, Black, and low-income students to excel in ways similar to what we find in our America’s Best Urban Schools Award winners, achievement gaps in our nation would be minimal or non-existent. Our award-winning schools demonstrate that it is possible for typical schools to teach Latino, Black, low-income students, students with emerging bilingualism, students with disabilities, and students who face an array of other challenges to excel in multiple ways. In sum, NCUST has awarded 167 different schools (some have received multiple awards) since 2005. These schools inspire us and renew our hope in public education. At the same time, they fuel our urgency to support many other schools and districts that are eager to generate similar learning outcomes.
At the end of the Rio Grande River, along the US/Mexico border, in one of the nation’s poorest congressional districts, the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) has more winners of the America’s Best Urban Schools Award than any other district in the nation. With 13 winners, BISD continues to develop outstanding schools that produce amazing results. Many Brownsville schools achieve learning results that exceed the results found in suburban school districts where families have substantially greater income and schools have more resources. The district serves approximately 44,000 students, approximately 98% of whom are Latino, and 88.5% come from families that meet economically disadvantaged criteria. Brownsville teachers, counselors, principals, and district leaders are convinced that their students can excel. In fact, the district mission specifies that the “Brownsville Independent School District will graduate students who are prepared to excel in higher education and successfully pursue career opportunities in a changing global society by maximizing resources to ensure equitable opportunities for all students.” For several years, administrators, teachers, support personnel, and community members have worked together to create outstanding schools that prepare Brownsville students to not only gain admittance, but excel in post-secondary education. Last year, BISD students earned $119 million in scholarship offers to a wide array of colleges and universities.
We salute the Brownsville Independent School District, their teachers, support staff, school leaders, district-level administrators, superintendent, and Board of Trustees. We strive to continue to learn from their successes and help other districts achieve similar results.
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