October 13, 2008
Tomorrow we’ll know who has taken home the 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education, awarded each year to the school district the Broad Foundation considers the nation’s “most improved.”
But chances are the award won’t put to rest questions about whether the foundation really picks the best districts. The official story is that a blue-ribbon panel consults not only school leaders but parents and teachers and reams of test score data. The panelists even said last year they do random school visits in the nominated districts.
But is the award given purely based on merit, or for “politics and PR,” as Leonie Haimson at NYC Public School Parents wonders? Every year the winning district has its detractors. And there are sometimes ties between the winning districts and the foundation that predate their awards. The city DOE received millions of Broad Foundation dollars well before it finally got its prize last year.
One thing we do know: the winning district had better have someone on hand to do some heavy lifting — the prize sitting across from Chancellor Klein’s desk weighs a ton.