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Diane Ravitch's Blog: New Study: Broad Supes Made No Difference, Other Than Increasing Charter Schools

A new study confirms what many critics of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendents’ Academy long suspected. Despite Eli Broad’s boasting, his program had no positive effects on student performance, but the “graduates” expanded privatization by charter schools.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Month 202X, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1–27
DOI: 10.3102/01623737221113575


Public-Sector Leadership and Philanthropy: The Case of Broad Superintendents

Thomas S. Dee
Stanford University
Susanna Loeb
Brown University
Ying Shi
Syracuse University

Using a unique panel data set on the 300 largest school districts, we examined the impact of Broad superintendents on a broad array of district outcomes. Our results indicate that the hiring of a Broad superintendent had no clear effects on outcomes such as student completion rates, enrollment, the closure of traditional public schools, and per-pupil spending on instruction or on support services. However, one exception to this pattern is particularly notable. We do find evidence that the hiring of a Broad superintendent results in a growing charter school sector. Specifically, we find that the hiring of Broad superintendents is associated with a trend toward increased charter school enrollment and a growth in the number of charter schools that extends beyond the short tenure of the typical Broad trainee.

We view the overall implications of these findings as nuanced. On the one hand, this Broad Foundation initiative was successful in placing new leaders with distinctive characteristics and training in a substantial number of U.S. school districts. Yet, we also find that these leaders had unusually short tenures and no clear effects on a variety of district outcomes.

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Co-Founder and President of the Network for Publi...