Berkeley-Haas Wins 2011 Education Leadership Case Competition

A Berkeley MBA team took first place in the Haas Education Leadership Case Competition, providing the nation’s second largest school district with ideas for implementing and marketing a new school governance model.

Bruce Dos Santos, German Freiwald, and Moritz Plischke, all MBA 12, teamed with Paul Perry, who will graduate with a master's in public policy this year, to win the two-day Haas-run competition, which ran Feb. 18 and Feb. 19. This year the competition focused on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which is facing major budget cuts and, at the same time, moving to a budgeting model that allocates resources by students rather than teachers.

The competition creates cases for districts facing immediate challenges that genuinely rely on the participating MBA talent to provide readily implementable ideas. In past years, the competition has involved such districts in such cities as Oakland, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

“Working with LA offered yet another tremendous opportunity for students to influence nationwide educational reform,” says Aaron Sokol, MBA 12, who co-organized the competition with second-year student Jason Dolan and led the case-writing effort.

In the LAUSD challenge, the Haas team realized that parents might believe that moving to the new budgeting model actually caused the budget cuts. “With this risk in mind, we proposed that they position the new model as a change that mitigated the negative impacts of budget cuts,” says Freiwald. The team also proposed a buddy program between Oakland principals and LA principals–since Oakland recently went through a similar budgeting transition.

LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia served as the keynote speaker and a judge at the event.

She and other senior LAUSD officers weighed in on ideas from eleven competing teams from schools including Stanford, MIT, Yale, Columbia, and the London Business School, the competition’s first team outside North America.

“The competition gives the school a written case, provides the MBA community with the learning experiences of the competition, and offers the education community solutions to very real problems," says Andrik Cardenas, director of operations for the Haas School’s Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership and staff adviser to the competition.

The winning Education Leadership Competition team: German Freiwald, MBA 12; Paul Perry, MPP 11; Moritz Plischke and Bruce Dos Santos, both MBA 12.

Monica Garcia, LAUSD Board President