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Broad Center to move from L.A. to Yale along with $100-million gift

Eli Broad
Eli Broad is sending his school leadership training program to Yale University.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

The Broad Center, which has attracted praise and suspicion for its training of school district leaders, will move from Los Angeles to Yale University, along with a $100-million gift provided by founder Eli Broad, the center announced Thursday.

The donation is the largest ever for the Yale School of Management and will help fund a master’s program for public education leaders and advanced leadership training for top school system executives — efforts that had been undertaken by the center in Los Angeles.

The current participants will finish their work at the center in Los Angeles before the operation shifts to the East Coast.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last 20 years and I can think of no better future for the Broad Center than Yale University,” Broad said in a statement.

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Broad, an 86-year-old billionaire, has recently been planning for the future path of his endeavors in various fields, including medicine and art, for which he has funded research and advocacy.

The Broad Center has received praise for offering a fresh and evolving take on school district management outside traditional education.

As described by Broad and center leaders, the mission was twofold: to attract and train talented leaders from outside education — including business executives and senior military officers — and to provide needed skills to career educators who rose through the ranks, often starting as teachers.

“The job of leading a large urban school district or a district of any size is incredibly complex, difficult and important,” said Executive Director Becca Bracy Knight. “Instruction is at the core, but other pieces are needed to make that happen well: transportation, food services, safe facilities, hiring and development, external communication and communicating with the community, board governance, and labor relations.”

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The center has two tracks: an academy for people in top leadership positions and a residency, which targets earlier career professionals and recently began offering a master’s degree.

Separate from the center, Broad has been a major funder of privately operated, taxpayer-funded charter schools — seeing them as offering a high-quality public alternative that provides helpful competition for traditional public schools. He’s also been a major political donor in campaigns against school board candidates endorsed by the teachers unions and supported limiting teacher job protections.

Critics, including union leaders and allied elected officials, have accused him of trying to run schools too much like private businesses. They say that this ideology is misguided and inevitably pervades the center.

Education historian Diane Ravitch, a critic of Broad, said graduates of the center’s two-year training program “have a reputation for top-down management; they are data-driven, they don’t listen to stakeholders like parents and teachers, and they favor closing public schools and replacing them with charter schools.”

There are high-profile examples that she and others point to in support of her conclusions, but there are also lesser-known or less controversial district leaders — including, for example, Supt. Matt Hill in Burbank — whose leadership has not provoked such criticisms.

The center has dozens of alumni in leadership roles in traditional school systems, charter school organizations and education-related nonprofits. The center also said it has successfully increased leadership diversity by recruiting women and people of color.

The move to Yale means the center’s programs “can be enhanced with input from Yale University’s leading thinkers in management, public health, law, child development, policy, criminal justice and economic development,” the center said in a news release.

The center has a staff of about 30.

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The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has been the primary funder of the Broad Center, and in most years is the only one, according to the center. The foundation has contributed $143.5 million to the center since 2001. The Broad Center’s budget for 2019 is $15 million.


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