Miami-Dade’s Alberto Carvalho is new L.A. schools chief

Alberto Carvalho, who has led Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 2008 and is among the most experienced and admired school district leaders in the nation, has been named the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials announced. from the district on Thursday.

Arriving in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Carvalho, 57, goes from leading the nation’s fourth-largest public K-12 school system to the second-largest, assuming one of the most prominent and challenging positions in public education. .

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve as the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” Carvalho said in a statement issued by the Los Angeles Unified School District. “Over the past three decades, I have selflessly dedicated my career to the children of Miami’s diverse community, and I look forward to bringing that same passion, compassion and commitment to the students and families of the Los Angeles Unified District.”

Carvalho is recognized in the Miami-Dade district for providing stable leadership and improved academic achievement, and for creating special programs that offer more educational options for parents. In Los Angeles, it would immediately have to face a school district in which many students have long struggled to achieve and were further delayed, academically and emotionally, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Alberto Carvalho brings the deep experience we need as an educator and leader of a large urban district to manage LA Unified’s ongoing response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board of Education President Kelly Gonez. “He established a clear record of positive student outcomes and has worked tirelessly to achieve greater equity for historically underserved communities. I know he will continue that approach in Los Angeles. “

The vote to begin contract negotiations with Carvalho was 7-0. The board expects to approve a contract next week.

By luring Carvalho to change coasts, the Los Angeles Board of Education accomplished something that New York City, the nation’s largest school system, could not. In 2018, Carvalho agreed to take the job in New York, then retired a day later on live television, announcing his decision to stay in Miami.

Carvalho was chosen from a pool of candidates that sources said included well-regarded insiders with significant leadership experience, particularly the interim Supt. Megan Reilly, Academic Director Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, and Regional Administrator Frances Baez. Joan Sullivan, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which operates 19 campuses under contract with LA Unified, was also considered among the group.

Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho speaks during a school board meeting in March 2018.

(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

But it would be hard to match Carvalho’s resume or experience, seen in South Florida as a charismatic leader with a trophy case that includes multiple “superintendent of the year” awards from various Florida and national organizations. His district also won the 2012 Broad Award for Urban Education, indicating the nod of the late Eli Broad and other critics of traditional school systems.

The Miami-Dade district’s rating on the state’s accountability system has increased to A.

One of Carvalho’s accomplishments has been surviving on the job for more than an entire generation of K-12 students. The term of office of urban superintendents usually lasts three years or less.

Since Roy Romer’s departure in 2006, the Los Angeles Unified School District has had eight school principals, including interim office holders. Former superintendent Austin Beutner resigned in June at the end of his three-year contract, in part citing burnout after handling a teacher strike and pandemic. Reilly has served as interim leader since that time.

Carvalho’s success stories, and low points, have been repeatedly recorded in Florida newspapers and media.

Born in Portugal, he came to the United States at the age of 17. Carvalho learned English as a young adult and quickly worked his way into construction jobs and restaurants while attending Broward Community College. He later won a scholarship to Barry University and enrolled in a pre-med track. He excelled academically, but took a difficult turn in his career when, in his mid-20s, he interviewed for a teaching position at Miami Jackson Senior High. He was offered a job the same day, a 2019 Tampa Bay Times profile reported.

After four years in the classroom, teaching physics, chemistry, and calculus, he became an assistant principal. The superintendent at the time was so impressed that he took Carvalho to work at the center without him being the director. Carvalho oversaw federal programs and later became the district’s communications director. He gained more experience supervising grant administration and lobbying state officials.

Under the superintendent. Rudy Crew, Carvalho launched several initiatives, including a Parent Academy and a School Improvement Zone, that focus on underperforming schools.

After becoming superintendent, Carvalho eventually filled a gap in his resume, serving as principal. It ran a new campus called iPrep Academy, a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade magnet school “designed to promote respect and responsibility among students and staff,” according to its website. All students are required to take honors classes.

Los Angeles education leaders and advocates in general expressed their enthusiasm for the selection of a veteran educator with a national reputation for school innovation who began his career as a classroom teacher.

“Importantly, he views English learners not primarily as students who lack fluency in English, but as children of immigrants with the rich hopes, dreams, and aspirations that immigrant families have always brought to this country,” said Patricia. Gandara, a professor of education at UCLA. and an expert in English learners, who make up almost 20% of the district’s students.

Eighth grade English teacher Joni Bader was hopeful too.

“As an educator, I am delighted to have a leader who has served in the classroom and as a designated principal to lead our district,” said Badar, who teaches at White Middle School in Carson. “It is essential that our new superintendent listens and works alongside the teachers.”

His career and personal life have also seen low points, including two divorces and one bankruptcy, according to a 2008 profile in the Miami Herald. And just as Carvalho began his tenure at the helm of Miami-Dade, embarrassing personal emails surfaced between him and an education reporter. The emails dated from a period prior to his selection as superintendent.

The head of the new schools will take office in Los Angeles at a critical time. The system has billions of dollars in coronavirus relief aid, additional federal funding, and growing state tax revenue. But there is a huge job ahead. The isolation and shortcomings of remote learning have been followed by a challenging readjustment on campus. The district is also beset by declining enrollment and a long-term structural budget deficit.

“The past 21 months have been devastating for many of the families we serve in the Los Angeles Unified District,” Gonez said in a recent interview, prior to Carvalho’s selection. “The pandemic has generated an unequal burden of illness, death, job loss and trauma that has been disproportionately borne by communities of color. Our superintendent will need to consider the profound impacts of the pandemic, the racial justice uprisings, and the urgent needs of our students and families. “

More than 90% of parents, community members and employees said in a recent district survey that they want the next superintendent to have “experience working in public schools as a teacher and / or administrator.” At about the same pace, respondents also asked someone who has experience “working in and with large and diverse communities” and “leading a very large organization in transition.”

Board member Jackie Goldberg, who described herself as “delighted,” said the choice aligns with the priorities expressed by the community: “We unanimously elected one person who has been a teacher, principal and superintendent of a major school system. “

Carvalho will also enter as an outsider with a new perspective. You will have to quickly master the workings and staffing of a massive and complex system with a very different governance structure than Florida. LA Unified is the only school system in the country with a full-time paid Board of Education, where individual members select and direct their own staff.

In making its decision, the school board took a different direction than in 2018, when, by 4-3 votes in closed session, the members opted for Beutner, a businessman with no experience in educational management.

At first, Carvalho will need help from the initiates who were not elected.

Reilly, the interim superintendent, has administrative experience both in and outside of education and a strong grasp of the district’s financial architecture. But she has never been a public school teacher or principal, which helped open the door for other applicants. Yoshimoto-Towery has extensive leadership experience in academic affairs and has been building the learning initiatives that are now underway.

Baez has been with the district for more than 25 years, rising from teacher to administrator; he recently became superintendent of the Central Local District, one of the six regional chapters of the Los Angeles Unified District. Sullivan is well known in the philanthropic community and has experience trying to change some of the district’s schools whose students have struggled.

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