The Los Angeles Unified School District has undertaken a search for a new superintendent. Many view this as an impossible job and others have suggested the process is lacking in public input. This post will look at four candidates that I believe could inspire the District’s teachers to better utilize technology in order to improve student engagement and outcomes. The bios come directly from the candidate’s websites and have been edited for brevity.
Jorge Aguilar, Sacramento City Unified
Jorge A. Aguilar became the twenty-eighth Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District on July 1, 2017. He leads the thirteenth largest school district in California with 46,843 students, more than 4,200 employees and a budget of more than $566.99 million. Aguilar was selected Superintendent by the Board of Education because of his proven track record using data to improve student outcomes. Superintendent Aguilar has more than twenty years of K-12 and higher education experience with a strong focus and background on issues of equity and student achievement. Superintendent Aguilar has more than twenty years of K-12 and higher education experience with a strong focus and background on issues of equity and student achievement. Prior to his appointment, he served as Associate Superintendent for Equity and Access at Fresno Unified School District. In his career, Superintendent Aguilar has also served as an Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Partnerships and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of California, Merced; as a Spanish teacher at South Gate High School; and a legislative fellow in the State Capitol. Learn more about Superintendent Aguilar in this interview with Bill Gates.
Over the past 20 years, Devin’s vision for how to drive high-quality student outcomes enabled him to quickly ascend the roles of educator, school principal, district administrator, and superintendent. During his tenure serving Vista Unified’s more than 25,000 students, Devin earned some of the education industry’s most prestigious awards. In 2015, he was named “California Superintendent of the Year” by both the ACSA and Pepperdine University. In 2014, he received Classroom of the Future Foundation’s “Innovative Superintendent of the Year” award. After joining Vista in 2012, he was invited to the White House nine times; both in recognition for district-wide achievements and to partner on national efforts with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology and the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. As AltSchool’s Chief Impact Officer, Devin guides the design and strategy of the company’s personalized learning platform as it expands into a growing community of private, charter, and public schools.
Tom Vander Ark is the author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World, Smart Cities That Work for Everyone: 7 Keys to Education & Employment and Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning. He is CEO of Getting Smart, a learning design firm and a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture capital firm. Previously he served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom served as a public school superintendent in Washington State and has extensive private sector experience including serving as a senior executive for a national public retail chain. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles, has written and contributed to twelve published books and co-authored more than 40 white papers. Tom is board chair of Charter Board Partners, and is a director of 4.0 Schools, Bloomboard, Digital Learning Institute, eduInnovation, and Imagination Foundation. Tom is an advisor to New Classrooms.
Michael Horn is the author of the award-winning book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns and the Amazon-bestseller Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. An expert on disruptive innovation, online learning, blended learning, competency-based learning, and how to transform the education system into a student-centered one, Horn serves on the board and advisory boards of a range of education organizations: Fidelis Education, Education Elements, Global Personalized Academics, the Silicon Schools Fund, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Minerva Institute. He serves as an advisor to Intellus Learning, Pedago, Knod, Everest Education, AltSchool, Degreed, the Education Innovation Advisory Board at Arizona State University, and the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University, and he is an executive editor at Education Next. Horn was selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea, and Tech&Learning magazine named him to its list of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education. He holds a BA in history from Yale University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Is the LAUSD superintendency guaranteed to a District insider? Or will the Board of Education take a chance on an outsider with a vision for using technology to improve pedagogy? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comment section.