Press Release

MBA competition to address D.C. schools performance

| 10 February 2009

Ten teams from top business schools around the country will set their sights on improving the public school system in the nation's capitol in the third annual Education Leadership Case Competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business on Feb. 20-21.

Organized by UC Berkeley MBA students in the Haas Education Leadership Club, the competition challenges MBA and graduate students to solve key public education problems. Past case competitions have focused on revitalizing the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District's budget process in 2007 and post-Hurricane Katrina restructuring efforts in the New Orleans Public Schools system in 2008.

This year's competition looks at the District of Columbia Public Schools system and the nationally recognized work of Michelle Rhee, the district's chancellor since 2007. Until recently, the system had some of the nation's worst academic performance. Rhee has implemented sweeping reforms that are being closely watched by education reformers.

Ten teams of four students each from leading U.S. business schools will review various aspects of the school district's reform efforts and propose solutions. The case was developed by a team of Berkeley MBA students, who interviewed more than 15 Washington, D.C. stakeholders, including Rhee, the school district's deputy chancellor, the teachers' union president, community activists and parent-related groups.

Participating teams will receive the case a few days before the competition and will present recommendations to a panel of judges that includes a professor at the Haas School, District of Columbia Public Schools representatives, and leaders in Washington, D.C. non-profit education. The winning team will receive $5,000 - $3,000 in cash and $2,000 to be donated to a cause of team members' choice.

"The goal of this year's case competition is to help District of Columbia schools unify around Chancellor Rhee's vision for academic excellence," said second-year UC Berkeley MBA student Samir Bolar, who helped compose the case. "The district continues to ride the wave of momentum from Rhee's appointment, and district officials believe this competition is an excellent opportunity to highlight their aggressive reform efforts and effect even greater change in D.C. schools.

The competition also serves to engage the talents of graduate students in educational issues. This year's teams come from Columbia Business School, Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, New York University's Stern School of Business, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, Yale University's School of Management, Harvard Business School, and UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

The four-member teams are primarily composed of MBA students, but some include students in public policy, education or dual-degree programs.

Team presentations will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21 in the Wells Fargo Room at the Haas School of Business on the UC Berkeley campus. A map is online at www.berkeley.edu/map. The closing ceremony and the two finalists' presentations, which are open to the community, will begin at 5 p.m.

This year's competition is supported by The Broad Foundation, along with sponsorships from Teach for America, Deloitte, Education Pioneers and The Mind Trust.

For more information, see The Education Leadership Case Competition.