The confetti wafted onto his impossibly square shoulders. The Nashville audience stood and roared. Then a medal on a royal-blue ribbon was draped around Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho's neck. Last month, after more than five years of agonizingly hard work, the self-proclaimed son of "pretty dramatic poverty" who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with no electricity or running water was named the nation's school superintendent of the year.
"If we can crack the code to student achievement in Miami, [which is] so poor, so diverse," said Carvalho, still wearing the medal beneath his tailored sport coat after the event, "it is a solution for the rest of the nation."
Problem is, his "solution" is under attack. Parents and alumni representing predominantly African-American schools in the urban core claim Carvalho has betrayed them and ignored their interests. A letter sent last week by angry, frustrated members of Inner City Alumni for Responsible Education (ICARE), an umbrella group representing alumni associations from seven of Miami-Dade County's largest inner-city high schools, accuses Carvalho of being "a slick operator" and showing "neglect and apathy" for black schools while caving to concerns from other ethnic groups.More »