Yesha Callahan

Los Angeles Picks First Black Woman to Head Nation’s Second-Largest School District


Michelle King just made history. The former high school principal was recently named superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the nation.

The announcement was made after King received a unanimous 7-0 vote by the school board, making her the first Black woman to hold the job in the district’s history. King was previously LAUSD’s Chief Deputy Superintendent, and will oversee a school system with more than 650,000 students and a $7 billion budget.

After an exhaustive national search, many have commended the school district for hiring one of their own, arguing King will be able to hit the ground running and make the necessary changes to improve the district.

“This is one of those rare moments where you get the best candidate and a fast-moving start,” said David Rattray of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

While it remains to be seen what changes King will implement, her appointment to one of the most important jobs in Los Angeles is historic.

  1. January 12, 2016 - Reply

    Cool beans but I’ll save my celebration for after she improves education for the black kids in her district, so good luck.

    • January 13, 2016 - Reply


      Improvement will depend upon a lot of factors, including how much time King is given to produce results. You rarely hear about massive, speedy achievement gains in urban districts, and when you do, there’s usually cause for suspicion (Atlanta testing scandal). I recently read an op-ed comparing two, New Jersey school districts in predominantly low-income areas (Union City and Newark). Newark was recently awarded a 100M gift from the founder of Facebook, and it was used in a top-down initiative promising quick, district-wide turn-arounds involving charter schools, results based pay for teachers, and so on. Whereas, Union City, which has a large ESL learning population, implemented smaller, less expensive changes over the long hall, incorporating bi-lingual education and community outreach. The Newark experiment failed, while UC thrives.

      I don’t think schools have gotten worse, per se. I think more is expected of educators and students who can’t reliably expect to find low skilled jobs that pay a living wage. So, there’s this push to prepare more and more students for college and high skilled labor jobs that wasn’t there previously, but it takes a lot of investment to produce high skilled/ and or college educated labor, especially in the home. So, if the child’s home life isn’t conducive to meeting these higher education/skill goals, then there’s only so much the teachers/district can do.

  2. January 12, 2016 - Reply

    This is very historic. We all want Sister Michelle King to make education better in the Los Angeles area as children deserve a strong, quality education. Education is more than about studying information. It is about a growth of consciousness where children respect their human dignity and where students have a love of learning. It is about allowing black children to know their real history and their real culture not Eurocentric lies in the classroom. It is about analyzing what is real and applying it in society. So, I wish the best for Sister Michelle King.

  3. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    she’s got a really tough job ahead of her

  4. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    It doesn’t matter who is in charge of the school board, it matters who has the power over the money. Most black school districts around the country are cutting programs and begging for money just to stay open even with black school board presidents, teacher union presidents and so forth. But they don’t have any control over any money. And as far as LA is concerned black folks make up only 10% of the student population…..

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