L.A. Unified Once Again Embarks on a Tough Search for a New Superintendent

Less than two years after members of the L.A. school board chose a superintendent from the district’s ranks, they now find themselves in search of a new one—and the task may be harder than ever.

The nation’s second-largest school system has a dizzying array of problems, but the board is divided on how to solve them. Meanwhile, there aren’t many candidates considered qualified for such a daunting job, and those who are may be getting other offers.

The challenge of improving large urban school districts—and of keeping the job for more than a year or two—can be seen in the job openings. New York City, the nation’s largest school system, also is searching for a superintendent. So was Chicago, the third-largest district, until a new leader recently was hired.

Being a superintendent today is a “very different job than 10 or 20 years ago,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. There are “lots of high expectations, few resources, and very few people on the bench who really understand education.”

Supt. Michelle King recently announced that she has cancer and will not returnfrom medical leave. A career district employee, her selection was considered an attempt by board members to restore calm and focus after years of tumult. It was also a milestone: King was the first African American woman to run the district.

But during her brief tenure, neither King nor the school board ever developed a detailed set of plans to improve the district’s schools. Many wondered about the practically of her focus on “100 percent graduation”—her mantra while in office.

This time around, the board could choose an insider again. If it doesn’t, the pool of well-regarded superintendents of other large, urban school districts is limited.

Big-city superintendents’ tenures tend to be short—a 2014 study by the Council of the Great City Schools found they spend an average of just over three years in the job—and it is often difficult to determine how effective they have been. Click here to read more: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/02/12/la-unified-once-again-embarks-on-a.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3&M=58378497&U=1183391