Austin Beutner took the helm of the Los Angeles schools in May 2018 more quietly than many of his predecessors. He was well aware that he wasn’t a hugely popular choice as an executive rather than as an educator. He leaves office today, also quietly, having met the moment of a historic pandemic.
COVID-19 changed everything, and it needs to factor into any assessment of Beutner’s tenure. Nearly half of his three-year term has been preoccupied with the pandemic. Few obligations take precedence over giving a child a strong educational start — but one of those obligations is making sure those kids are fed. It is to his lasting credit that the school district provided millions of meals, a crucial lifeline to some of the most vulnerable families. Many of those families were Black or Latino, led by parents juggling essential work on the front lines — if they had been lucky enough to keep their jobs at all.
The job of school superintendent is notoriously difficult anywhere but perhaps nowhere more so than Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest district, responsible for 500,000 students, 80% living in poverty and around 16% with special learning needs. Past superintendents in Los Angeles included a governor of Colorado and a retired Navy vice admiral; for decades, the job has oscillated between insiders and outsiders. Click here to read more: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-06-30/legacy-assessment-austin-beutner-lausd-los-angeles-schools-superintendent