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The California State University system has a new Center to Close the Opportunity Gap housed at its Long Beach campus.

Cal State Long Beach faculty hosted a virtual meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10, to celebrate the grand opening of the initiative, which is part of a CSU systemwide effort to eliminate achievement gaps at all levels of education.

The CSU announced its decision in May for the Long Beach campus to serve as the host site for the program​. The center, which was originally set to open in spring, will focus on identifying and refining proven strategies to eliminate equity gaps at all levels of education across the CSU’s 23 campuses and education partners across California.

Education partners in the center include San Diego State University, Cal State University Fullerton and San Jose State University.

“The ultimate goal of the center is to serve as a vehicle to explore new models, share best practices from exemplary schools and districts, and convene practitioners and stakeholders from across the state,” said Corinne Martinez, co-director of the new center. “With the largest education preparation program across the state, the CSU and CCOG will provide an important platform to create a sense of urgency about how we might close equity and opportunity gaps.”

California State Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, CSU Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren Blanchard and College of Education Dean Shireen Pavri were among those who joined the virtual celebration. Dr. Joe Joseph, founding executive director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University Research Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the grand opening.

The center will serve to provide resources and assistance to local educational agencies to eliminate education gaps of K-12 students by race, ethnicity, income, language and disability status.

“We cannot pretend that access to the American dream is alive and well when it’s far too easy to predict how well any student will perform on any academic variable,” Joseph said. “We need systems explicitly designed to tap into and actualize the potential of every child we have the privilege to educate.”

Other functions of the center include providing professional educator preparation and creating a statewide network by establishing regional networks to incorporate and disseminate best practices. The CSU’s teacher preparation program, the largest in the state, produces more than half of California’s new teachers each year.

“This invaluable work is in direct support of what we are doing with Graduation Initiative 2025,” Blanchard said. “This effort is our flagship effort to ensure all students have the opportunity to earn the lifelong benefits of a high quality CSU degree.”

The Long Beach campus was chosen in part because of its capacity to develop and maintain the center and its graduation rate. CSULB was recognized by EdSource this spring as having the greatest graduation rate gains of all CSU campuses.

“We have the opportunity to learn how we can improve our preparation of educators from preschool to graduate school in ways that strengthen systems so that demographic factors have no power to limit the success of students in our state,” Joseph said. “We look forward to becoming a better, stronger, more socially just state because of (CSU’s) work.”

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