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Eli Broad’s Superintendent Academy Goes Ivy League

The billionaire’s controversial training program has found a new home at Yale University.

Bill Raden

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Say goodbye to the Broad Academy. The Eli Broad-founded and funded superintendent’s program that since 2002 has trained “aspiring urban school system leaders” in the blunt art of disrupting communities, undermining school boards and alienating teachers through top-down district privatization techniques is pulling up its L.A. stakes and leaving California. Its destination? The Yale School of Management, which this week welcomed BA’s Broad Center umbrella org and the $100 million jackpot from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation that comes with it. The ivy-covered facelift will transform BA’s market-based ed reform fellowship — which Diane Ravitch notes has been unencumbered by either education academicians or scholars — into a now establishment-countenanced, one-year master’s degree in education management. Also on tap will be “advanced executive training” for laissez faire-leaning district superintendents and CFOs.

“Broadies,” as graduates are known, have left their mark on Golden State public schools. Oakland Unified is still digging itself out of the mess left by three politically appointed grads that managed the district during its 2003-2009 state receivership. Ten years later, their legacy includes mass school closures, charter oversaturation, crippling debt and an even deeper fiscal crisis (exacerbated by profligate spending by Oakland’s Broad-trained ex-supe Antwan Wilson) that has put 24 more district schools on the chopping block and turned school board meetings into civic battlegrounds. Los Angeles is still traumatized by Broad alumnus John Deasy, remembered as the LAUSD supe who habitually testified against the district in lawsuits targeting its teachers and for masterminding the conflict of interest-tainted, $1.3 billion iPad procurement debacle that finally sent him packing.

Higher Ed Stocking Stuffers: Just in time to make every policy wonk’s holiday list is Forbes’ best higher ed books of 2019. And in a year heavy on headlines about admissions scandals and college unaffordability, it’s no surprise that a majority of the 11 titles picked by Forbes senior contributor (and ex-Missouri State U prez) Michael T. Nietzel focus on how a system of postsecondary education celebrated as an American vehicle for social mobility became what the Chronicle of Higher Education now characterizes as an “engine of inequality.”

Nietzel’s higher ed book of the year? The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Or Breaks Us, veteran education reporter Paul Tough’s horror about the race and ethnic-based inequities in college access and degree attainment. Its Jekyll/Hyde villain is “America’s Best Colleges,” the annual rankings by U.S. News & World Report that is both the bible of choice for college-shopping families and the bane of socioeconomic diversity. The rankings are universally loathed by the book’s protagonists, college admissions officers, who resent their outsized impact on the quantity and quality of their schools’ applicants and are hamstrung by the standardized test-weighted algorithm used by U.S. News that incentivizes selectivity and hardwires into admissions favoring academically undeserving rich kids over high-achieving poor kids.

California’s vaunted public research universities have hardly been immune to the college access crisis, thanks to decades of state divestment that has pushed the University of California system to make up shortfalls by increasingly relying on out-of-state tuitions. According to the numbers crunched last week by San Francisco Chron ed reporter Nanette Asimov, despite a 40 percent increase in the number of students accepted by UC between 2009 and 2018, the system’s acceptance rate plunged from 78 percent of applicants in 2009 to last year’s 59 percent. For California’s high school grads, the trend is even grimmer; although the number accepted to a UC school over the same period saw a modest 4 percent rise, the acceptance rate plummeted from 85 percent to 59 percent. “[California has] more students — a credit to our K-12 system — being prepared for college,” explained UC interim associate veep and undergraduate admissions director Han Mi Yoon-Wu regarding UC’s lack of room for more California residents. He might also have noted the nearly 10,000 freshman seats that in 2018 were taken by out-of-state kids and international recruits — a quadrupling from just under 1,800 a decade ago.


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