A new study confirms what many critics of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendents’ Academy long suspected. Despite Eli Broad’s boasting, his program had no positive effects on student performance, but the “graduates” expanded privatization by charter schools.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Month 202X, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1 –27

DOI: 10.3102/01623737221113575



Public-Sector Leadership and Philanthropy: The Case of Broad Superintendents

Thomas S. Dee

Stanford University

Susanna Loeb

Brown University

Ying Shi

Syracuse University


Using a unique panel data set on the 300 larg-est school districts, we examined the impact of Broad superintendents on a broad array of dis-trict outcomes. Our results indicate that the hir-ing of a Broad superintendent had no clear effects on outcomes such as student completion rates, enrollment, the closure of traditional public schools, and per-pupil spending on instruction or on support services. However, one exception to this pattern is particularly notable. We do find evidence that the hiring of a Broad superinten-dent results in a growing charter school sector. Specifically, we find that the hiring of Broad superintendents is associated with a trend toward increased charter school enrollment and a growth in the number of charter schools that extends beyond the short tenure of the typical Broad trainee.

We view the overall implications of these findings as nuanced. On the one hand, this Broad Foundation initiative was successful in placing new leaders with distinctive characteristics and training in a substantial number of U.S. school districts. Yet, we also find that these leaders had unusually short tenures and no clear effects on a variety of district outcomes.