Broad Center announces inaugural class of public education fellows

Kai Nip, Contributing Photographer

Last week, the Broad Center announced its inaugural cohort of 20 senior public education professionals for the Fellowship for Public Education Leadership. 

The Broad Center –– which used to be independent of the University and located in Los Angeles before moving to the Yale School of Management this year –– is dedicated to improving K-12 public education through leadership development, impactful research and policy engagement. The fellows hail from 11 different states and the District of Columbia, and come from various backgrounds within public education: 12 fellows work in traditional public school districts, while six work in public charter school networks and two come from state education agencies. 

“These leaders are facing questions of rapid change and ambiguity in public education and are committed to further developing their own understanding of effective leadership in order to move forward equitable outcomes –– not only through the pandemic, but into the future for our educational system,” wrote Executive Director of the Broad Center Hanseul Kang in an email to the News. “They have demonstrated their unique perspectives coming into this program and they represent school systems with interesting overlaps and divergences — the geographic diversity and diversity of experience among program participants is a core part of the cohort’s potential to learn from each other.”

The fellowship, which lasts 10 months, contains four in-person sessions dispersed throughout the program. Kang explained that the first week of in-person sessions for the inaugural cohort is scheduled for June 2021, when the group will meet at SOM for five intensive days of programming. She said that this allows the fellows to return to their organizations with new techniques and recommendations to immediately implement. In between the sessions, Kang added that the fellows are expected to build their knowledge and skills through activities, readings and assignments. 

Kang said that the fellowship will take advantage of its new location at SOM. She pointed out efforts to integrate SOM’s case-based teaching method to the program curriculum and said the case studies may be expanded to focus on management questions in education. 

Many of the fellows expressed special interest in the fellowship because of the Broad Center’s recent relocation. Fellow M. Ann Levett, who is the superintendent of a 37,000 student school district in Georgia, said that she sees many connections between running a high-functioning public school and managing a successful business. 

“When I look at my job, a big part of it is education, but it’s also a business,” Levett said. “I have to maintain very strong financials for our organization [and] look at human resources. It’s education, but it’s business management, too.”

Levett said that having the Broad Center located at SOM enables the University to demonstrate its commitment to public education and the growth of leaders. She added that it also provides fellows with the opportunity to tap into Yale’s “great brain trust” to better their work.

According to Fellow Fredrick Heid, another benefit of the Center’s association with SOM is increased credibility.

“Broad had kind of a mixed reputation,” Heid said. “When I first approached my [school board] a few years ago asking to apply to Broad, they did some research and were very oppositional to it … After the partnership [with SOM,] my board fully supports it moving forward. I think the partnership brings renewed energy, and quite honestly it provides more marketability for others because it’s no longer just the Broad organization.”

Kang told the News that the Broad Center is excited about new opportunities to connect SOM faculty’s evidence-based research and teachings to questions around leadership in public school systems.

Heid and Fellow Deena Bishop told the News they feel the greatest of these questions is how to address equity in public schools. They explained that certain advanced programs in their school districts are not representative enough of the diverse populations they serve, creating what Heid called a “class system.”

“We’re not creating the equality that we should,” Bishop said. “It’s time for public educators to look in the mirror. Nobody’s to blame, but we just have to identify the right work to make that happen.”

The fellowship helps address equity issues among the fellows by being a tuition-free program. Kang told the News that the program’s funding comes instead from a “generous gift” from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation –– the Broad Center’s parent organization. 

For some fellows, such as Bishop, their participation in the program was made possible by the absence of tuition. Bishop said that her financial circumstances will make her cherish the opportunity even more and will ensure that she pays her work forward to others.

For other fellows, the tuition-free aspect of the program is more of an added benefit than a necessity. Heid said that his school board likely would have considered the fellowship an important professional growth opportunity and paid for its tuition.

“Education, especially in leadership roles like superintendents and chiefs of staff, they’re very lonely positions,” Heid said. “To have a group of colleagues you can commiserate with, but also shift to a problem solving team approach is invaluable … I see [this fellowship] as an opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others, to help them and to gather more tools for my toolbox, as well.”

The Broad Center also offers a tuition-free master’s degree in public education management. 

Julia Brown | [email protected]

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