State Teacher Leaders Laud Lauderbach

When Ofelia Antuna de Dios started volunteering at J. Calvin Lauderbach Elementary, she immediately noticed something was different about the class sizes. They were smaller. Back when she was a student, class sizes of 30-40 students were common. Lauderbach’s class sizes offered a more personalized learning environment, she said.

“There were no more than 20 students,” she said. “I was surprised about that. …I realized the teachers could put more attention to the kids, the teachers could work more with our kids. As a parent, I wanted to know what was going on with Lauderbach, how come more schools were not like that?”

Antuna de Dios learned that Lauderbach received funding from the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) of 2006 to reduce class sizes and increase teacher collaboration and parent engagement. To draw attention to the benefits of QEIA, the California Teachers Association recently held a press conference at the school to promote the findings of a CTA-funded research study. Speakers recounted how QEIA is helping at-risk schools to thrive and excel. More time for teacher collaboration is making a huge difference at Lauderbach, as are smaller class sizes and more resources, according to CTA.

Lauderbach Principal Alex Cortes noted that the school has met its Academic Performance Index goals, easily surpassing the 800 API benchmark with a score of 845. Lauderbach has been recognized with a Distinguished School award, a National Center for Urban School Transformation Award and a Title I Academic Achievement Award.

“Our accomplishments have not been by accident,” Cortes said. “It took the committed work, relentless effort, and unyielding belief that all our students can learn. Our purpose in building critical readers and writers has been developed through ongoing participation in collaboration, where teachers are analyzing data, determining instructional next steps and are involved in meaningful and standards-based planning that comes to fruition in our classrooms to support every single one of our students.”

CTA Board of Directors member Jim Groth said QEIA has contributed to finding new and effective ways to help vulnerable students, and to discover practices that can benefit all teachers.

“New research shows that these proven reforms are leading to positive impacts in achievement, school reputation, school climate, and parent engagement at our schools of greatest need,” said Groth, who also is a teacher in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

The California Teachers Association sponsored SB 1133, which created QEIA, to settle a CTA lawsuit against former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about funds owed to public schools.

Chula Vista Elementary Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, E.d.D., noted that there are many factors that contributed to Lauderbach’s success.

“Instructional leadership, site-based decision-making, parent involvement, on-going professional development and teacher collaboration have each been keys to the academic gains at Lauderbach,” Escobedo said. “It is a school that embraces data analysis, and that, too, has made it a successful QEIA school. Our teachers collaborate over data, and use that information to help guide efforts in creating robust learning environments for all students.”

Teacher Evette Ramirez is a literacy coach at Lauderbach, and her position is paid for by QEIA. “QEIA funding makes it possible for our teachers to have time to plan, collaborate and analyze students’ work,” Ramirez said.

QEIA provides time for teachers to watch each other in action in the classroom, and to give constructive feedback, colleague to colleague. “It’s been very powerful for us,” she said.

Antuna de Dios said she is impressed by the dedication of Lauderbach staff.

“When I see how the teachers are collaborating, how the teachers are training …the commitment from the teachers, the leadership from the principal—I am really proud to be part of this school,” Antuna de Dios said.

See Parent Ofelia Antuna de Dios’ full remarks here.

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