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Until recently, I had no idea who or what the Broad Foundation was. I had seen on Pat Green's resume that she had been through Broad superintendent training. It's not something she hides; in fact she is quite proud of the fact that she was part of the first class of Broad Fellows and features that on her web site--but I didn't think at the time that the training meant anything in particular.
Now I know better.
The Broad Foundation is part of a group of foundations (include the Walton Foundation and the Gates Foundation) that are part of the so-called "education reform" movement--a thinly veiled movement to destroy public education. The Broad Foundation describes its mission as "“transforming urban K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition,” and that sounds good, but in practice it is not.
In education, the Broad Foundation is most notably known for the Broad Superintendents Academy--an alternative certification route to becoming a school superintendent. You don't need to start with a background in education to enter it.
To understand their reach, you have to read these statistics, courtesy of the Broad Center:
In our own state, John Covington, the head of the Education Achievement Authority--that unproven program which the state legislature is trying to ram through an expansion--is a Broad Center graduate. So too are the about-to-retire emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools.
- Forty-one academy graduates serve as school district superintendents, four as state superintendents, four as chief executive officers of charter management organizations and 12 as school district cabinet executives.
- Ten urban school districts have hired more than one superintendent that has graduated from The Broad Superintendents Academy.
- Ten percent of states have selected Broad Academy graduates to lead their state departments of education.
- Across more than 50 urban school systems, 107 superintendent-level positions and 104 cabinet level positions have been filled by graduates of The Broad Academy since the program began in 2002.
- More than 300 current and former Broad Residents are working in more than 50 urban school districts, charter management organizations and departments of education nationwide.
[From the Perimeter Primate in the comments: "One correction. Michelle Rhee was never a Broad Superintendents Academy "fellow." But she did have regular contact with the Broad Foundation and even visited Eli Broad at his Fifth Ave. apartment in NYC in 2008. He clearly adores her.
So I wasn't too surprised to find that the Broad Foundation has recently bailed out Michigan's Education Achievement Authority to the tune of $10 million dollars. So we should not be surprised that they wrote an op-ed piece on April 28th in the Detroit Free Press about how great the EAA is. The truth is--and this is a pattern with the Broad Foundation--that they say they want data, but they only want convenient data. We actually won't have good data to evaluate the EAA until many years have passed. [I digress, but the initial data implies that the program can't run without additional money; that teacher turnover is extremely high; and that so is student turnover.]
In an article from Parents Across America, "How to tell if your school is infected by the Broad virus," they suggest several signs--many of which have come true in Ann Arbor in the short time that Pat Green has been here.
However, Pat Green is leaving, and I just want to note a few of these (although I recommend you read the whole article!):
Now, the good news is that Pat Green is leaving, and we in Ann Arbor have an opportunity to find a different kind of leader. And actually, you might think--well then we don't need to know about the Broad Foundation anymore.
- Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)
- Power is centralized.
- Decision-making is top down.
- Excessive amounts of testing introduced and imposed on your kids.
- The superintendent receives the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent in your town’s history (plus benefits and car allowance) – possibly more than your mayor or governor — and the community is told “that is the national, competitive rate for a city of this size.”
Unfortunately, no. We do need to know about the Broad Foundation. There are a lot of links in this piece from the Charlotte Observer (h/t to CC for finding this), but this comment by the Perimeter Primate is particularly concerning:
PS: Ray & Associates is the superintendent search firm which recruited Gorman to CMS [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools] in 2006.Carl Davis of Ray & Associates is also listed as one of the speakers for the Broad Superintendents Academy...
Two other firms, Jim Huge & Associates and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, appear on the Broad Foundation's list of BSA training session guest speakers. I presume they are paid to appear.What needs to be investigated is if these particular superintendent search firms give preferential treatment to the Broad-trained candidates, in terms of presenting them to school boards.For instance, in the case of the Springfield (MA) search in 2008 conducted by Jim Huge, three of the four finalists were Broad fellows. http://www.springfieldcityhall.com/COS/superintendent-search-narrowed.0.html. . .
And then: This is an excerpt from an article about Durham’s superintendent search (started late 2009): “The board has search proposals from the North Carolina School Boards Association; Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (Glenview, Ill.), Ray and Associates (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Jim Huge and Associates (San Francisco). ALL BUT THE FIRST WERE RECOMMENDED BY THE BROAD FOUNDATION OF LOS ANGELES. . .
How many school boards and members of the public realize that superintendent search firms may have their own agendas? (Emphasis added.)In fact, as far back as 2006, the Broad Center was featuring Gary Ray, "whose Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based search firm, Ray and Associates Inc., has placed several Broad graduates as superintendents."
So here is the situation. We hired a Broad Center superintendent, using a firm that has worked extensively with the Broad Center, two years ago. The same firm is essentially offering their services for free this time. That is the same firm that I believe helped the school board arrive at the high salary they offered Pat Green. That is the same firm that posted the last position on the Broad Center job posting list.
Looking back at the mistakes we've made, and keeping us from making the same mistakes a second time, is critical. The board has just taken two excellent steps. First, they are offering the position at what I consider to be a more reasonable salary range (and just as importantly, it's a range, not a single number). Second, they discussed and decided not to post the position on the Broad Center job posting list.
Now, there are two more things that didn't happen last time, that should happen this time.
For one thing, during the last superintendent search, inclement weather forced the cancellation of site visits to the applicants' home districts, and they were not rescheduled. I believe that for any non-internal candidates, district site visits are essential. I think they would have told us a lot about the candidates. [For instance, what if someone had come to Ann Arbor this year and found out about the glass wall Pat Green had put up; about the requirement that everything be FOIA'd; about the rumors that she didn't work on Fridays?]
Second, now that we know about the Broad Academy, I'd rather we didn't hire anybody with those credentials. At a minimum, anyone with those credentials needs to be extensively questioned about their experience and agenda. It's not just that I don't agree with the Broad Center's agenda; it's that I don't think that most Ann Arborites do either. Further, and even worse, I don't think that the Broad Foundation is honest about their agenda. I believe that their agenda is to privatize, and profit-ize, public schools.
And since we're using a search firm that has been associated with the Broad Center in the past, it behooves us to be rather careful.