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Young: Don’t rule out reform supporters for superintendent

Craig Clough | November 6, 2015

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Caprice Young

Caprice Young

Among the 43 people identified by the Los Angeles Times this week as potential candidates for LA Unified superintendent were nearly a dozen with a background in charter schools or the reform movement.

One of them was Caprice Young, a former president of the district school board, as well as a founder of charter schools, the former president of the California Charter Schools Association and the current CEO of Magnolia Public Schools.

With at least four of the current seven board members having expressed concerns about the rising tide of charters in the district, including a nearly half billion dollar plan by the Broad Foundation to double their number, was she surprised to see her name as a possible choice?

“I don’t know about surprised or not,” Young told LA School Report. “Overall I was exited about the candidates the LA Times came up with. I think there are a lot of good people on that list. I think everyone who is committed to the students of Los Angeles would be excited to be thought about in that context.”

Young said she had not been contacted by the board’s search committee about the job but didn’t think anyone would before the Nov. 10 board meeting when the results of an online survey and public forums about the search will be discussed.

The Broad plan is unpopular among board members for its potential impact to enroll half of all district students in charter schools, wiping out thousands of union jobs, draining district coffers and causing other extraordinary changes in district operations.

Young characterized the plan as not that big of a deal and said it should not be part of the discussion in a new superintendent.

“What I hope is that the school board isn’t going to make decisions on who will be the next superintendent based on if they are aligned with the Broad plan,” she said. “The real criteria should have to be if whether or not the candidate will be focused on the highest quality of education in Los Angeles, whether it is charter schools, traditional schools or magnet schools.”

She added that the Broad plan “shouldn’t be a litmus test. Frankly, a lot more than $500 million dollars has been spent in philanthropy to expand charter schools already.”

Asked whether the board might overcome hesitations to consider a candidate with a pro-charter background, Young said, “You are asking me to speculate about someone’s intentions. I have no idea.”

So does she think there’s a chance that someone like herself, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or Kaya Henderson, the chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools and a Michelle Rhee accolyte, would be considered, as the LA Times suggested?

“I hope so,” she said.

Young said she agrees with the major decisions the board has made so far regarding the public survey, public forums and keeping candidates names private. During her years on the board, she was involved in hiring two superintendents, Ramon Cortines (in his first stint) and Roy Romer.

Young said in her experience, the decisions to not publicly identify candidates and hold open town halls where they can be grilled were good ones.

“It is important to maintain the confidentiality of any candidate that applies whose work might be compromised if their own constituents found out they were interested in another job,” Young said. “The other question is are those public dog and pony shows genuine. Mainly, those kinds of forums turn into halls packed with special interests as opposed to legitimate listening sessions.”


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