The Los Angeles Unified School board announced it had agreed unanimously to select Alberto Carvalho as the next Superintendent of Schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Carvalho’s record in Miami-Dade was the subject of a feature by Ron Matus in the Winter 2020 issue of Education Next, “Miami’s Choice Tsunami.”
“Instead of resisting the inevitable forces of choice and customization that are re-shaping public education, Carvalho and Miami-Dade chose to harness them,” Matus wrote. “Carvalho’s popularity stems from his district’s ability to direct its own vision for change, and to document sustained progress.”
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An incredible personal story is part of Carvalho’s appeal. He grew up in Portugal, the son of a custodian and seamstress. Six kids in a one-room apartment with no running water and no electricity. Carvalho, 54, was the first in his family to graduate from high school, and he left for America as an “unaccompanied minor” who spoke no English. He washed dishes. Worked construction. Lived in a U-haul that reeked of paint. As a waiter, he met former U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw, who encouraged him to go to college. He did, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1990. Today, he speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and French—and is one of America’s most decorated superintendents.
In October 2020, Michael Q. McShane documented for Education Next how Carvalho had delivered results without bloated budgets. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools Bucks the ‘Staffing Surge’ Trend,” was the headline on that article. “The Miami-Dade County Public Schools spends less per student than the only three larger districts in the country and still manages to deliver top-tier student achievement results,” McShane wrote.
In September 2021, Carvalho appeared on the Education Exchange podcast with Education Next senior editor Paul E. Peterson. The headline for that episode was “In Miami-Dade, 75 Percent of Students Are Enrolled in Choice Options.”
And in the Spring 2020 issue of Education Next, Susan Bush-Mecenas and Julie A. Marsh took a look at the context in Los Angeles, under the headline “Building on Shaky Ground.”
“Education reform in the City of Angels demonstrates the complexity and challenge of enacting and sustaining reform in a highly divided, politically charged urban context. Since the introduction of charter schools in the early 1990s, a few major reforms have taken hold. Others have made their splash and then dissipated like puddles in the desert,” Bush-Mecenas and Marsh wrote. “The sheer size of the city’s sprawling school district, often described as a “behemoth,” can make it intractable. Greater Los Angeles is home to 13 million people, and the Los Angeles Unified School District rambles across 720 square miles, including 26 cities, with management divided into seven board districts and six regional offices. As the second-largest school district in the country, L.A. Unified in 2019–20 enrolled nearly 420,000 students, with an additional 138,000 students in the region attending charter schools (the highest charter-school enrollment of any school district in the country).”