On his first day, Cortines feels a 'sense of urgency' at L.A. Unified
By Howard Blume, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1FwzfYL
Oct 20, 8:35 PM :: Ramon C. Cortines' first day in his latest tour at the helm of Los Angeles Unified started in a familiar fashion: early, with his first meeting at 7 a.m.
That was practically indolent for Cortines, who is known to schedule meetings for 6 a.m. But on this Monday at least, the 82-year-old administrator-in-chief eased back from retirement.
The Board of Education turned to Cortines as the logical stopgap to replace John Deasy, who resigned last week under pressure. Cortines had led the school systems in New York City, San Francisco, San Jose and Pasadena. And in L.A. Unified, he previously served as interim superintendent in 2000, then led the district again from late 2008 through April 2011, when Deasy took over.
People are not celebrating anyone's demise. They're celebrating the return of Ray. He is welcomed. He is appreciated. He is respected. - L.A. school board member George McKenna
Now Cortines is back through June, at a prorated annual salary of $300,000, which is $50,000 less than his predecessor received. Cortines also elected to move into a smaller office and convert Deasy's space into a conference room.
Either the board or Cortines can terminate the agreement with 30 days' notice. Officials have yet to work out details on a search for a permanent replacement.
(The district on Monday also updated details of Deasy's separation agreement. He'll receive about $61,000 for unused vacation days in addition to about $70,000 in severance to be available as needed through year's end.)
Neither Cortines' schedule nor his history suggests that he'll be a caretaker. During a six-month stint in 2000, he reorganized the school system, hired an executive team and made major decisions about instruction and building projects.
Expect another busy period, he said.
"There's a sense of urgency," said Cortines at the end of the day. "The last three and a half years there's been progress in the district, but we have some major challenges that together we have to address."
On Monday, within a span of eight hours, his meetings covered a sweep of issues that have dominated public attention, including a crisis involving a student records system and labor negotiations with the teachers union, which has talked of a possible strike.
Board member George McKenna said he sensed relief at district headquarters on Beaudry Avenue with the arrival of Cortines.
"People are not celebrating anyone's demise," McKenna said, referring to Deasy. "They're celebrating the return of Ray. He is welcomed. He is appreciated. He is respected."
Poor relations with board members were a major factor in Deasy's downfall, and Cortines squeezed in meetings with two board members who had criticized Deasy: Steve Zimmer and Bennett Kayser.
The latter had met Cortines once before, as a teacher who was protesting the closing of a school.
"He remembered," Kayser said.
At 9 a.m. Monday, Cortines met with Vivian Ekchian, the district's chief labor negotiator. It's no secret that he would like to resolve protracted contract negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles.
"It was as though nothing had changed," said Ekchian, comparing the past and present Cortines.
At about 2:30 p.m., he left to meet with Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA, at the union's Wilshire Boulevard headquarters.
It isn't clear whether UTLA was willing to reach a deal of any kind with Deasy, who had become a rallying point for union organizers who talked of strike preparations. Union leaders regard Cortines as more collaborative. But that doesn't mean Cortines is able or willing to offer a much better deal than his predecessor.
"Ray Cortines listened, and we had some preliminary conversations," Caputo-Pearl said.
Accompanying Cortines to the meeting was Deputy Supt. Michelle King, who had expressed interest to the board in serving as interim superintendent. It was Cortines who had urged her to do so, before the board began to pressure him to return.
Cortines has made it clear that he wanted King to play an integral role; his first meeting of the day was with her.
Also on Cortines' schedule were meetings with Ron Chandler, who heads the district's technology division, and chief strategy officer Matt Hill. They are managing the district's technology efforts; two troubled projects contributed to Deasy's departure.
The first was a $1.3-billion effort to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and campus administrator. Deasy recently announced he would relaunch the bidding process; more than 100,000 devices have been purchased. Cortines indicated he would reexamine the district's approach to classroom technology.
This fall, another issue emerged when a new student records system malfunctioned. Thousands of students had faulty schedules and lost instructional time or couldn't get courses they needed to graduate or fulfill college entrance requirements. Some seniors had troubled getting transcripts or grade point average calculations.
"I have to find out how that happened, who was asleep at the wheel," Cortines said. "How dare we do what we've done to some of these students and some of these parents and some of these schools — and some of those schools are the most needy ones."
Deasy's exit reflects other school battles across the U.S.
By Teresa Watanabe and Stephen Ceasar, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1t8iOxK
21 Oct 2014, 3AM :: Like Deasy, top leaders in some of the largest school districts have come under tremendous pressure
John Deasy was one of a group of big-city school leaders to push for radical change: More independent charter schools, using student test scores to help evaluate teachers and relying less on seniority when teachers are laid off.
And Deasy's departure as L.A. schools superintendent last week shows how difficult it has been for them to succeed.
Top leaders in some of the largest districts — in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Texas and elsewhere — have come under tremendous pressure: some lost their jobs, one faced a massive teachers strike, and lawsuits have been filed against them, among other things.
These administrators have been fought by teacher unions and some community activists who have joined to oppose so-called corporate reform because it often involves data-driven performance reviews that can affect high-stakes personnel decisions, and expanded school choice for parents that includes charters.
Deasy left the L.A. school district last week after 31/2 years, during which time he clashed repeatedly with the teachers union and struggled to maintain solid relations with some school board members. Union leaders say Deasy's exit marked a repudiation of his policies.
"Deasy's resignation is a reflection that this top-down, my way or the highway, competition-driven, test-score-fixated way of doing schooling is not working," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in an interview. "The John Wayne strategy does not work."
Deasy supporters sharply dispute that. They assert they want to hold teachers and schools to higher performance standards so that children, especially those in poor communities, receive a quality education. The unions, they said, feared that those policies would weaken their power.
"The job of a good superintendent like John Deasy is to push hard for school improvement, and too often good superintendents get a lot of grief for trying," said Bruce Reed, president of the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation in Los Angeles, which runs an academy for superintendents. "In L.A. and cities across the nation, we still have a long way to go to give kids the equal education they deserve, and we should all be pushing harder and faster for equal opportunity. Parents don't want a go-slow approach."
The fight between these forces is intensifying nationally.
"There is clearly a pushback, and it's having a real effect," said Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank. "The riptides are so strong that even a superintendent like Deasy, who tried to be strategic and deliberate, got pulled out in the undertow."
In L.A. and cities across the nation, we still have a long way to go to give kids the equal education they deserve, and we should all be pushing harder. - Bruce Reed, president of the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation
Deasy left his job in the nation's second-largest school system despite gains in such areas as student test scores, graduation rates and attendance since he took over in 2011. But his ability to lead was compromised by a confrontational teachers union, a shift in the school board makeup and back-to-back policy snafus on two technology projects, the iPad rollout and the computerized student information system.
The fate of his key policies are still unknown. But they and similar efforts across the nation are facing new challenges.
Charter schools, which are independently run but publicly funded and frequently non-union, are embroiled in bitter battles in New York, Louisiana and elsewhere. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio succeeded charter enthusiast Michael R. Bloomberg and vowed to start charging charter schools rent and temporarily forbid new schools from using public facilities. With the backing of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charter advocates succeeded in winning the right to use public space, but De Blasio remains ambivalent.
The Journey for Justice Alliance, a new educational advocacy group funded by national teacher unions and such philanthropists as the Ford Foundation, has unveiled a new tactic against charters: federal civil rights complaints.
The Advancement Project has helped parents in Newark, New Orleans and Chicago file complaints with the federal government, arguing that the closure of their neighborhood public schools and the expansion of charters violate their children's educational rights. In Chicago, closures of some campuses have created massive overcrowding at others, and some students in New Orleans were denied admission to nearby charters and forced to attend distant alternatives, said Jitu Brown, national director for the Chicago-based Journey for Justice.
In Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles is pushing contract proposals requiring stricter oversight of charters and other sweeping changes in struggling schools, such as replacing staff and curriculum. Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said his members will work to slow charter approvals in favor of a "community schools" model that widely collaborates in developing reforms.
Jed Wallace, chief executive of the California Charter Schools Assn., said parents will continue to back charter schools. Nearly a quarter of L.A. Unified students attend those campuses, with tens of thousands on waiting lists — a show of support, he said, that charter opponents cannot stop.
"They can make it more difficult, but ultimately they cannot stop this process from happening," he said.
Standardized testing is another hotly contested subject. Diane Ravitch, an education historian and critic of Deasy and others with similar positions, called testing the "linchpin of the corporate reform movement" because low scores can open the door to school takeovers by private operators. They are also being used for such crucial decisions as teacher hiring, firing and pay in some districts, with instructors judged in part by their students' gains in test scores.
Resistance to standardized testing has mushroomed across the nation, with student unions forming against them in such cities as Providence, R.I., and Portland, Ore. In Texas, 90% of school districts have adopted resolutions against high-stakes testing. In Florida, 11 school districts representing 42% of public school students called for the state to suspend standardized testing.
Caputo-Pearl said the union would push for changes in Deasy's teacher evaluation system, including an end to testing data for anything other than framing goals or shaping teaching practices.
That will probably draw a challenge from organizations such as EdVoice, a Sacramento-based educational advocacy group funded by the Broad Foundation and others. Bill Lucia, the group's executive director, said California court rulings have ensured that policies involving teacher evaluations and job protections would continue regardless of who runs the school district.
In 2012, an L.A. County Superior Court judge affirmed that state law required the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations, while another judge this year struck down five laws involving traditional teacher job protections, saying they violated students' constitutional rights to an equal education by keeping "grossly ineffective" teachers on the job. Deasy supported both cases.
Most agree that the growing backlash against testing, charters and other policies opposed by teacher unions and other activists is spelling peril to superintendents who push them. Last week, former school superintendents in Oakland and Sacramento spoke out in support of Deasy, saying their efforts to push changes had also sparked huge teacher union opposition.
Tony Smith, the former head of Oakland's schools, said some of his changes — including closing schools, sidestepping seniority rules and requiring some teachers at failing campuses to reapply for their jobs — prompted union members to march on his house in protest.
"Anybody who is talking about putting students first from the superintendent's seat is a target," Smith said in an interview.
Hess said Deasy's departure follows the exit of similarly minded school chiefs, such as Joel Klein in New York and Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. He predicted that their critics could aim to take down others like them, such as Tom Boasberg in Denver, Terry Grier in Houston or Rhee's successor in D.C., Kaya Henderson.
"Deasy was one more domino in the chain," Hess said. "The biggest effect is that the anti-reform angst that got targeted on Deasy will now rush to find a new target, and some superintendent who was getting less attention is now about to win the lottery."
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Who knew there was a spin cycle on the Polar Express?: EX-LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS CHIEF SAYS RESIGNATION CAME IN POLARIZED ATMOSPHPERE
By Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters in the Huffington Post | http://huff.to/123WXft
LOS ANGELES, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Updated: 10/20/2014 11:59 am EDT :: Former Los Angeles public schools Superintendent John Deasy said on Friday, a day after resigning from his post, that his testimony in a landmark case on tenure rules for teachers created a polarizing atmosphere over his leadership.
The former top official of the second-largest school district in the nation, who has been praised by reform groups seeking to hold teachers to more stringent standards, also told reporters in a conference call that he might eventually run for office.
Deasy, who led the school district since 2011 and oversaw a problem-plagued $1.3 billion effort to equip students in the district with iPads, announced his resignation on Thursday in a joint statement with the school board.
Former Superintendent Ramon Cortines will replace Deasy on a temporary basis, starting on Monday. Deasy will stay on in a new role for the rest of the year to aid the leadership transition.
Earlier this year, in a landmark California court case that saw a judge overturn some state-mandated teacher job protections, Deasy testified students were hurt by rules that made it costly and difficult to remove bad teachers.
The controversial ruling, which led the teachers union to accuse Deasy of scapegoating instructors in his role as a star witness, is on hold pending an appeal by California officials.
Deasy told reporters his testimony "did intensify a polarizing debate around leadership and my own leadership." But in a conference call organized by Students Matter, which helped bring the lawsuit, Deasy stopped short of criticizing the board that had negotiated his departure.
Deasy, who last year wrangled with the teachers union over factoring student test scores into performance evaluations, also said that approach and other policies could be endangered with his departure.
"I think all the policies could be at risk, and I think that would be a shame for youth," he said.
School board member Steve Zimmer said in a phone interview the school district would proceed with changes begun under Deasy, including the framework for teacher evaluations and an overhaul of student discipline to avoid suspensions.
"Every major initiative that we agreed on together will move forward," he said. "It's not a question of whether we move forward, it's just a question of how."
Zimmer acknowledged Deasy's testimony in the teacher tenure case created tension with the board, but he said that did not lead to Deasy's departure. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Beech)
Monday, October 20, 2014
By Allie Grasgreen w/ help from Caitlin Emma and Stephanie Simon, POLITICO's Morning Education | by email
Oct 20, 2014 :: FIRST LOOK: CALIFORNIA BATTLE ESCALATES: Money has been pouring into the hard-fought race for Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. In just the last two weeks, wealthy supporters of challenger Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive deeply rooted in the education reform movement, have spent more than $4.5 million. Their website: http://bit.ly/1zh9RFQ . Incumbent Tom Torlakson, meanwhile, has benefitted from the prodigious resources of the California Teachers Association, which has spent more than $2 million in the same period. Now the American Federation of Teachers is joining the fray. The AFT's independent expenditure PAC made a six-figure digital ad buy that hits Tuck hard for the two years he spent as a Wall Street banker - and for his ongoing support from the business community.
- The video depicts an elementary school classroom that's taken over by Wall Street fat cats, who replace the blackboard with a stock ticker board, usher the teacher out the door - and even steal a little girl's lunch. ("Jelly is outstanding," one banker comments as he gulps down her sandwich.) "Marshall Tuck would sell off our schools and sell out our kids," the narrator says. Watch the ad: http://bit.ly/1t3dxrp and the related website, both produced in association with the California Federation of Teachers: http://bit.ly/1wXNvUk. There's also an ad running on Pandora that suggests Tuck is for "more tests" while Torlakson wants "more art, music and learning."
- On the campaign trail, Tuck takes offense when Torlakson refers to him as a "Wall Street banker," given that he spent just two years in the job after graduating college. The response from his campaign manager, Cynara Lilly: "No amount of childish ads or false attacks will change the fact that California schools are failing and Tom Torlakson will do anything to defend a broken status quo."
With the Los Angeles Unified School District Board ready to fire Superintendent John Deasy, he resigned as head of the nation's second-largest public school system just six months after he spiked his annual salary to $384,184 with $54,184 in buy-outs.
by Chriss W. Street \ Breitbart California | http://bit.ly/1x0EWIr
18 Oct 2014 :: After serving just four years and four months, Deasy will be able to immediately cash out 36 days of accrued vacation for about $48,286. He will also start receiving a spiked lifetime pension of roughly $39,955 per annum from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), about $6,000 more than a District teacher who worked for 30 years.
The Los Angeles area beginning teacher salary is $34,000 a year. If a teacher worked for the LA School District for 30 years and is earning the average annual salary of $50,012 a year, she could retire this year with a lifetime pension of $36,009 a year.
In March 2014, Mr. Deasy talked the District into rolling a $20,000 payment for a prior employment pension the District was funding into his salary. He also was able to roll 24 days a year of vacation time he said he was always too busy to take into his salary at the rate of $1,341 a day. The impact raised his $330,000 salary to $384,184 a year.
Mr. Deasy came to the LA Schools in August of 2010 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he served as Deputy Director of Education. Prior to that, he served as Superintendent of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Public Schools. Although there is no disclosure of his compensation at his prior jobs, he undoubtedly will also be receiving pensions from both organizations.
Mr. Deasy’s tenure as Superintendent has been incredibly controversial. He championed a $1 billion-dollar expenditure on iPads from Apple Computer and Common Core curriculum from Pearson Publications. But when the program failed miserably and was suspended, Deasy received criticism over his close personal ties to both corporations due to his work at the Gates Foundation pushing Common Core.
United Teachers Los Angeles union representatives called for Deasy to be put on leave in mid-September amid the iPad fiasco and investigation. Throughout his tenure, Deasy often sparred with the teachers' union.
ABC Eyewitness News reported that the LAUSD Board discussed Deasy's performance review during a closed-door session two weeks ago, and that four members were ready to vote Deasy out. Knowing that, the source says Deasy agreed to step aside and enter into negotiations for a separation agreement. With twenty months left on his contract, Deasy could also be in line to pick up another check for about $640,306.
Mr. Deasy seems to symbolize everything that is problematic about public school education in America. He was highly paid, spiked his compensation and pension in his last year, and many parents and teachers complained he was a horrible leader. But Mr. Deasy was allowed to resign just before being fired and still pick up a boat load of cash and plenty of pension benefits for the rest of his life.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Sandy Banks | Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/1qUOGjE
Oct 17, 4:33 PM :: Los Angeles school officials knew what they were getting when they hired John Deasy in 2010.
He'd led national efforts to hold teachers accountable for student performance. He was brash, impatient and high-minded. He had the ear of billionaire Bill Gates, the backing of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and access to local philanthropists looking for projects to fund.
Deasy promised that in five years, he'd make Los Angeles a showcase for school reform. But he didn't stick it out that long. Because the world around him shifted and he could not — or would not — adapt:
The city's hard-charging "education mayor," Antonio Villaraigosa, has been replaced by a hands-off mayor content with incremental gains. The school board is no longer dominated by big-picture reformers. The teachers' union has a tough new leader and an uncompromising agenda.
The changes left Deasy marooned, with few allies and no insulation from his own personality flaws: He pushed too hard, bristled at criticism, didn't know how to build consensus. He plowed ahead because he thought he knew better than everyone else.
That stands, for now, as the epitaph for Deasy's too-short tenure.
But it doesn't reflect the risks he took and challenges he faced.
It's clear the district is better now than it was four years ago. And in pockets of Los Angeles, Deasy — for all his missteps — is a hero and a martyr.
Deasy had considered resigning last year, and the school board seemed ready to accede. Then hundreds of parents, community activists, civic leaders and civil rights advocates weighed in.
"He's been a real warrior on behalf of vulnerable, marginalized kids," said Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, the state's largest healthcare foundation.
He recalled meeting with Deasy to express concern about disproportionate punishment doled out to black and Latino boys. "I was expecting to be stonewalled," Ross said. "I thought it would be a fight. Instead he was finishing my sentences. We were on the same page."
Deasy is credited with raising the profile of social issues that interfere with learning. He arranged for children to have breakfast in their classrooms, ended reliance on student suspensions as a disciplinary tool, and directed more money to schools with the neediest pupils.
For decades, L.A. Unified leaders had focused on wooing and keeping middle-class students in district schools. Deasy made clear that underprivileged children were his priority. His goal was not just raising test scores, but "lifting youth out of poverty."
He said that so often, the phrase became Deasy's trademark among supporters — and a way to mock him among those who thought we ought to focus less on feeding hungry kids and more on teaching English.
"John Deasy told the unvarnished truth about the fact that these children were being shortchanged," said Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel, which sued to force the state to intervene in problem-plagued local schools.
"He brought it to the attention of the school board, the court, the public.... I'd get emails from him at all hours of the day and night. He never stopped working for these kids. I think this is a huge loss, and the children of Los Angeles are the biggest losers."
Even teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl gives Deasy credit for pushing issues like student discipline onto the public stage. "He jumped on the crest of waves that had been building around issues for years. He brought a sense of urgency; he weighed in, and things became policies."
But some of Deasy's policies amounted to little more than grandstanding, Caputo-Pearl said.
"He'd get some national headline: We're doing away with suspensions. We're going to be the first big urban district with a computerized student data system. But there was no preparation, no professional development …no plan for when things went sideways."
Deasy got the credit, and overburdened schools were saddled with the mess.
It will take a while to settle on Deasy's legacy. District test scores have soared and graduation rates are finally rising.
But Caputo-Pearl doesn't buy the "things are better now" version of Deasy's tenure. Morale is lower at schools than it's been in decades, he said. Administrators are furious, teachers frustrated and parents bewildered by changes imposed with little training and no input from the trenches.
That's why interim Supt. Ramon Cortines plans to make mending fences his priority. Everyone could use a break from Deasy's passion and the school board's drama.
No one is saying yet where the district plans to look for Deasy's successor. Some of his deputies are educators he brought into the system after he was hired; others he plucked from campuses and catapulted into top spots.
Deasy's been such a commanding presence, it's hard to imagine that his underlings are ready for the spotlight.
In fact, it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would want the job at all. The politics are toxic, the problems intractable, the pressure hard to bear.
In Cortines, we will have a peacemaker running things. But I hope there's another troublemaker, like Deasy, waiting in the wings
Saturday, October 18, 2014
By e-mail to 4LAKids from a knowledgeable school-based educator and occasional contributor
Thur, Oct 16, 2014 11:58 pm
As I read about Supt. Deasy's resignation, I have two thoughts:
The MiSiS debacle was more of a factor than the iPads.
The decision to implement MiSIS this year was negligent, and schools are a shambles due to MiSIS. Unfortunately, there's no obvious way to extricate ourselves from this mess that affects, to varying degrees, every school in LAUSD. Students will be hurt, and after multiple system failures, employees have lost all faith in LAUSD’s Information Technology Division. At a series of eight meetings (22 hours total) hosted by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) between November, 2012 and May, 2014, Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill and other high district and ITD officials were warned repeatedly, and in compelling detail, by school site administrators and coordinators, but they chose to ignore the school-based experts who would have to use the system.
Most stories state that Supt. Deasy raised test scores, so I reviewed the data this evening.
The Deasy superintendency began in April, 2011, shortly before the CST exams were given, so 2011 seems a sensible baseline. Since the CST was not given in 2014, claims about Supt. Deasy raising test scores rest on the 2012 and 2013 CST. Attached (following) is a spreadsheet that includes the 2011-2013 LAUSD and (for comparison) statewide CST ELA scores for grades 3-11, the CST Math scores for grades 3-6, and the CST Algebra 1 scores for grades 7-11. Cohort views of the ELA and Math are included so that one can see how the same (or substantially the same) group did through three years of testing. There are a few bright spots (6th grade and 10th grade English; 4th and 6th grade math; 8th grade Algebra 1), but there are no huge, across-the-board improvements. Besides, the achievement of an 8th grader on the 2013 CST is the consequence of at least nine years of schooling, only two of which were during Mr. Deasy's superintendency.
- UPDATE: at the request of the anonymous contributor a misspelling was corrected in the first paragraph. At the request of another the spreadsheet has been made more legible.
|CST ELA||% Proficient|
|CST ELA||% Proficient||by Cohort||Change||Change|
|Grade 3||2011||2012||2013||2011‐2013||2012‐2013||Grade 3||Grade 4||Grade 5|
|Grade 4||Grade 4||Grade 5||Grade 6|
|Grade 5||Grade 5||Grade 6||Grade 7|
|Grade 6||Grade 6||Grade 7||Grade 8|
|Grade 7||Grade 7||Grade 8||Grade 9|
|Grade 8||Grade 8||Grade 9||Grade 10|
|Grade 9||Grade 9||Grade 10||Grade 11|
|Grade 10||Grade 10||Grade 11|
|CST Math||% Proficient||CST Math||% Proficient|
|LAUSD||66||69||65||(1)||Grade 3||Grade 4||Grade 5|
|LAUSD||67||67||70||3||Grade 4||Grade 5||Grade 6|
|LAUSD||60||61||61||1||Grade 5||Grade 6||NA|
|CST Algebra 1|| |
LAUSD Grade 7
CA Grade 7
LAUSD Grade 8
CA Grade 8
LAUSD Grade 9
CA Grade 9
LAUSD Grade 10
CA Grade 10
LAUSD Grade 11
CA Grade 11
Friday, October 17, 2014
On the day Apple unveiled a new iPad Air, Time Magazine explains: HOW THE iPAD HELPED BRING DOWN THE L.A. SCHOOLS CHIEF
John Deasy resigned after a bungled effort to give an Apple tablet to every student in the district
by Kate Pickert. Time Magazine | http://ti.me/1oeOeRV
John Deasy resigned as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District on Oct. 16, 2014. Lucy Nicholson—Reuters
Oct 17, 2014 | 12:19 AM ET :: For all that an iPad might be able to offer a growing mind, the device is missing a component many students would consider essential for coursework: a keyboard. A failure to recognize the importance of that omission is just one of many things that went wrong when the head of the Los Angeles public schools embarked on a plan in 2013 to get iPads in the hands of all 650,000 students in the system.
Two months after abandoning the heavily-publicized effort, John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, stepped down Thursday. The school board reportedly sent him packing with $60,000 in severance pay and appointed an 82-year-old former superintendent to run the second largest school district in the country in his place.
Deasy’s tenure had been troubled for some time. Test scores and graduation rates went up under his leadership, but his aggressive push for more teacher accountability rankled the teacher’s union. And recent municipal elections left him with fewer allies on the school board. Beyond the political backdrop, however, Deasy’s downfall can be traced, in part, to his devotion to the cult of Cupertino.
When Deasy promised to give every public school student under his care an iPad, it earned him hopeful, glowing praise. The iPad proposal seemed like a forward-thinking, even glamorous, way to transcend the socioeconomic barriers to academic achievement.
As critics have since pointed out, however, iPads are more expensive than many tablets from other manufacturers that are used by school districts. They also lack keyboards and other components many students find useful—like drives and USB ports—that are available on laptops. When some iPads were distributed to students during an early phase of the LAUSD program, some hacked the devices — which the district had said were meant solely for academic work — to enable more general use. And when the program began, some schools did not yet have proper wifi infrastructure that would allow all their students to be online at the same.
As more school districts adopt digital technology, Apple is pushing hard to become the go-to vendor for the products they need to make it happen. Deasy lent a hand to this effort, appearing in a 2012 Apple promotional video touting the iPad’s potential as an educational tool. In July, the company announced it had sold 13 million iPads for educational use worldwide.
But to critics, Deasy’s enthusiasm for Apple crossed a line when it was revealed earlier this year that he had been in close contact with Apple and Pearson, which makes software that was to be installed on hundreds of thousands of LAUSD iPads, long before the companies secured LAUSD contracts as part of an effort that was to cost the district more than $1 billion. The relationships between Deasy, one of his a deputies and executives at the companies were revealed in e-mails released to local media outlets. In one 2012 email before Apple was awarded an initial $30 million contract to provide iPads to LAUSD students, Deasy wrote to the CEO of Pearson, “I had an excellent meeting with Tim at Apple last Friday,” referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The meeting went very well and he was fully committed to being a partner.”
Deasy recused himself from the formal bidding process because he owned Apple stock and has said communication with potential vendors is common and not wrong. The L.A. district attorney’s public integrity division investigated and found no criminal charges were warranted. Still, critics said the whole episode left the impression that LAUSD was biased in favor of awarding a contract to Apple, leaving bids from competing technology companies at a disadvantage.
This summer, under intense pressure over the Apple and Pearson deals, Deasy suspended LAUSD’s contract with Apple and said the district would restart its bidding process. In a memo to the school board, Deasy said the decision to halt LAUSD’s contract with Apple would “enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances.”
It proved to be too little, too late, for a hard-charging education reformer with a soft spot for shiny tech.
- Read next: Apple Unveils Its Thinnest iPad Ever
WHICH WAY, L.A.? Hosted by Warren Olney KCRW http://bit.ly/1wjuGN3
John Deasy Steps Down from LA Unified
John Deasy and the elected school board agree that academic achievement rose during his tenure as Superintendent of LA Unifed. So, did he really resign today… or was he pushed out of the second largest public school district in the United States?
FROM THIS EPISODE
John Deasy and the elected school board agree that academic achievement rose during his tenure as Superintendent of LA Unifed. So, did he really resign today… or was he pushed out of the second largest public school district in the United States? We’ll hear about Deasy’s departure, and about his interim replacement—Ramon Cortines, who’s been there before.
In today’s letter of resignation as Superintendent of LA Schools, John Deasy says, “I am overwhelmed with pride in what this administration has accomplished for the youth of Los Angeles.” In announcing Deasy’s departure, the elected school board said “academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships” during Deasy’s tenure. Deasy’s resignation was accepted by a vote of 6 to 1, with Monica Ratliff voting no.
The vote for Ramon Cortines as his interim replacement was unanimous.
LA Schools Superintendent To Leave After iPad Controversy
National Public Radio Morning Edition | http://n.pr/ZI8Bez
October 17, 2014 5:03 AM ET
Listen to the Story :: 5 min 5 sec
|UPDATE 4:30 PM PDT AS PROMISED HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT FROM NPR: |
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Next we have the first interview with the man forced out of leadership of the Los Angeles schools. John Deasy was superintendent of the LA Unified School District for three and a half years.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
He built a national reputation as he pushed to change a district with 650,000 students. Then this week, Deasy agreed to resign, ending a battle with teachers unions and the school board.
INSKEEP: We're going to talk about it with him now. He's on the line. Welcome to the program, sir.
JOHN DEASY: Good morning.
INSKEEP: First, I have to ask if you were forced out.
DEASY: We reached a mutual agreement to part ways so that the work could continue and the board could find leadership that it could best work with.
INSKEEP: Which sounds like someone concluded that you could no longer be effective in the job.
DEASY: Well, I think that it is the best way to continue the work in LA.
INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that work, though, because you could make a case for yourself. Student test scores were going up, graduation rates improved, but you faced a lot of criticism nevertheless. What happened?
DEASY: It was a historic period of time unlike any other in the work of LAUSD, where achievement rates were the highest that they had ever been, graduation rates moved from the upper 50s to 77 percent, a historic high. Every indicator actually had never been better, including probably the one I am most proud and that is we really began ending the criminalization of students. So we took suspensions from about 48,000 a year to just less than 8,000 a year.
I think the way I look at this is I certainly am responsible and consequential for my style of leadership and my agenda, which was students' rights first. And that definitely made some adults uncomfortable. When you advance an agenda where - that the primary reason for the work is to advance students' rights, you do come across other agendas. And some of those were, what about adult and political agendas? And that did clash. And I certainly received criticism over that. But at the end of the day, Steve, students are vastly better off in LA than when we started.
INSKEEP: Well, it's interesting because the Los Angeles Times, in an editorial about your resignation, gives you credit for a take-charge attitude, unflagging energy, but they also say, in a different way, really the flipside of what you just said in praise of your time there. They say that you failed to give teachers a voice or the respect they were due. When you talk about standing up for students, is that part of that?
DEASY: I probably don't agree with that statement. They have made other criticisms which I do agree with. You know, I certainly could have developed a style and adjusted my style to have worked with my bosses better. I absolutely acknowledge that. I mean, the board at the end really did support a lot of my work, although I think my pace and the way I went about it is very open to critique. But respecting teachers, I actually don't agree with that whatsoever. I mean, I think teachers from day one have been at the heart of why we saw the improvements.
INSKEEP: You know, as I'm talking to you, I'm thinking about a story in Washington, D.C., where there was a troubled school district where there was a leader, Michelle Rhee, in charge of that school district, who gained a national reputation for a time for pushing for very, very rapid reform, very dramatic reform. And she was also forced out after a few years. Is there a time limit when you move into a big-city school district and try to make big changes?
DEASY: I think there is. I think that's a worrisome trend in America. I mean, I think we're watching that happen. It does concern me. I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go, and then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, well, it's not your turn this year. And that's difficult to do.
INSKEEP: One other thing I want to ask about.
INSKEEP: Possibly your signature move, at least on the national stage, was an effort to put an iPad in every classroom. It's something you've talked about on this program in the past that ran into trouble in recent months because of the way the contract was led. You were criticized for your communications with the contractors. The contract had to be suspended, and there was not yet an iPad in every classroom. It was in a pilot stage. Now that you're gone, is that program dead?
DEASY: I don't believe so, and I certainly hope not. I just actually returned from a recent learning trip to Korea. And if it's dead, we're doomed. You walk around any Korean school, you would realize - and that's just what one country - we have a long way to go in a very short time if we're going to be competitive internationally, let alone nationally.
INSKEEP: And I suppose we should clarify. I said an iPad in every classroom; it was an iPad for every student.
DEASY: And every teacher, that is correct. I think criticism is baseless, and it was politically motivated in terms of trying to slow this down. And to be quite frank with you, Steve, this is yet another emblematic issue. When you direct resources solely to students, that means those resources are not available to go to adults. And I believe that that was part of the issue that took place in this case.
INSKEEP: Well, John Deasy, thanks very much.
DEASY: Thank you, sir.
INSKEEP: John Deasy left his job this week as head of the LA Unified School District.
The Los Angeles schools superintendent is stepping down. John Deasy's resignation follows a contracting scandal that put him on the defensive. He talks to Steve Inskeep about why he resigned.
from elsewhere on NPR: http://n.pr/1sRbVzy
Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy has stepped down as head of the nation's second-largest school system after a controversial tenure that saw him at odds with the teachers union and unable to push through a plan to get an iPad in every student's hand.
His resignation was announced Thursday in a joint statement by Deasy and the board. It was also announced that former Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines would return to head the district starting Oct. 20 while officials search for a successor.
Although Deasy will say only that his resignation was "by mutual agreement" with the school board, in his first interview since the announcement, he acknowledges on NPR's Morning Edition that his leadership style could have played a role in the decision.
"I certainly am responsible and consequential for my style of leadership and my agenda, which was students' rights first," he tells host Steve Inskeep. That agenda, he says, "definitely made some adults uncomfortable."
Deasy, 53, nonetheless defends the achievements of his 3-1/2-year tenure.
"It was a historic period of time, unlike any other in the work of LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District], where achievement rates were the highest they had ever been," he tells Steve. "Graduation rates moved from the upper 50s to 77 percent, a historic high. Every indicator, actually, had never been better."
He points to his initiative to end what he calls "the criminalization of students" by reducing suspensions from 48,000 a year to fewer than 8,000.
But Deasy rejects charges that he didn't fully respect teachers: "I think teachers, from day one, have been at the heart of why we saw the improvements," he tells Steve.
"The board, at the end, was really — did support a lot of the work. Though, I think my pace and the way I went about it is very open to critique."
Asked whether there's an implied time limit to make reforms for leaders in big city school systems, such as himself and Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who was forced out as head of Washington, D.C., schools in 2010, Deasy says it's "a worrisome trend in America.
"I think we're watching that happen. It does concern me. I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go, and then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, 'Well, it's not your turn this year,' and that's difficult to do."
Although his $1 billion iPad initiative floundered partly over problems with vendors, if his departure spells the end of the project, "we're doomed," says Deasy.
"If you walk around any Korean school you would realize ... [that] we [in the United States] have a long way to go if we're going to be competitive internationally."
He said criticism of the iPad plan was baseless and politically motivated.
"I think this is another emblematic issue — when you direct resources solely to students, that means those resources are not available to go to adults. And I believe that that was part of the issue that took place in this case," he says.
Yet they put this puff piece/damage control/softball interview softball on the national air and ignore the other voices. I guess only the NPR audience in the L.A. market gets to hear about the bad stuff …nobody wants to get in the way of Dr. D spreading his message of student rights to the rest of the country. Nobody wants to hear about the kids who went without classes for nine weeks or what the judge said about Deasy’s leadership – that is all so last week!
Or is the reason I’m not hearing those voices is the Gates/Broad/Walton Foundation underwriting is making too much noise?
New York Times: Deasy Resigns as Los Angeles Schools Chief After Mounting Criticism
By MOTOKO RICH, New York Times | http://nyti.ms/1vnXpQM
John E. Deasy resigned after three and a half years as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Credit Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
OCT. 16, 2014 :: In a sign of the powerful resistance that big-city school chiefs face in trying to make sweeping changes, John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, resigned on Thursday after reaching an agreement with the city’s school board that ended his tumultuous three-and-a-half-year tenure.
Mr. Deasy, a strong proponent of new technology in schools and of holding teachers accountable for improving student test scores, had faced mounting criticism from board members and teachers who saw him as an enemy. He testified against teachers’ unions this year in a lawsuit in which a California judge ruled that tenure protection laws deprived students of their basic right to an education and violated their civil rights.
Detractors also criticized Mr. Deasy, who led the second-largest school district in the country, for the difficult rollout of an ambitious $1.3 billion plan to give iPads to every student in the district, which has an enrollment of 640,000 across 900 schools. Students hacked the tablets and used them to play games or use social media rather than to follow the new digital curriculum.
A new school data system introduced this fall also ran into snags, leaving some students unable to get assigned to classes or obtain transcripts for college applications.
Ramon C. Cortines, who preceded Mr. Deasy as the Los Angeles Schools superintendent and in the mid-1990s served as the chancellor of the New York City schools, will take over as the interim chief of the Los Angeles schools next week. Mr. Cortines was named to lead the New York schools in 1993 by Mayor David N. Dinkins but was dismissed two years later by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said he was not satisfied with the chancellor’s budget-cutting efforts.
Los Angeles is far from the only place where aggressive education overhauls — such as expanding charter schools, using standardized tests to evaluate teachers and attempting to revamp tenure and seniority — have hit pushback.
Michelle A. Rhee, a former chancellor of the Washington public schools, drew hostility from teachers with her efforts to lift performance in the district. In Newark, community leaders have objected to many of the changes pushed by Cami Anderson, the superintendent there, who has closed low-performing schools and reworked teacher evaluation systems. Two years ago in Chicago, the teachers’ union went on a nine-day strike, in part to protest new teacher evaluation methods that were imposed by the State Legislature and strongly supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Obama administration has vigorously supported sweeping changes to public education, including pushing for more rigorous academic standards and using standardized test results as a measure of a teacher’s quality. But in response to enormous protests from educators and parents who decry what they see as an overemphasis on testing, Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, announced in August that states could delay using test scores in teacher performance ratings by another year.
Education experts said Mr. Deasy’s resignation was part of a broader pattern, partly because change-minded leaders may have pushed too hard without securing the commitment of the teachers who would be responsible for making the modifications in their classrooms. “There are a lot of places where I think it’s been pressed as far as it can go,” said Gary Orfield, professor of education and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at University of California, Los Angeles, referring to many of the latest changes. “And I hope there will be something new emerging. We have to be sensitive to teachers, and they have to be involved if these reforms are ever going to actually work.”
Supporters of Mr. Deasy pointed to his track record improving test scores and graduation rates, as well as a new effort to overhaul disciplinary practices in schools to reduce arrests of students.
“John was just a big thinker, and he was going to go as long and as hard as he could,” said Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot charter schools and chairman of California Democrats for Education Reform, an advocacy group that supports test-based evaluations and changes to tenure.
Mr. Barr said the bitterness that had developed between Mr. Deasy and his critics had impeded healthy discussion. The question, he said, “is can we actually move forward without the extremes dominating the debate.”
In a statement issued Thursday, the Los Angeles school board thanked Mr. Deasy for his service and noted that during his tenure, “academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships, and the students of the district have benefitted greatly from Dr. Deasy’s guidance.”
Commenting on the iPad experiment, the statement said an investigation was pending, but “the board wishes to state that at this time, it does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts, and the board anticipates that the inspector general’s report will confirm this.”
Mr. Deasy, the board said, will remain “on special assignment with the district” until the end of the year.
Critics had questioned the cost of the iPad project at a time of fiscal constraint, while some board members and other critics were concerned that Mr. Deasy had not run a fair bidding process. In August, he canceled the iPad contract.
Mr. Deasy joined the Los Angeles schools as a deputy superintendent in August 2010 and took the helm in April 2011. Previously, he worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a deputy director of education. Earlier in his career he led the school district in Prince George’s County, Md., and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California.
Teachers in Los Angeles complained that he did not consult the people who would be most affected by his mandates.
“He had made a series of autocratic decisions,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers’ union, referring to the iPad project, the new teacher evaluations and other changes. He said Mr. Deasy’s departure signaled “a national shift towards a more collaborative style.”
Steve Zimmer, a member of a Los Angeles district school board, said that seeking Mr. Deasy’s resignation was the most difficult thing he had ever done, “other than my first year of teaching.”
He added, “Sometimes when you’ve been the propelling force behind a lot of difficult changes, it’s almost difficult to bring everybody on board to do the collaboration to make the changes real.”
Mr. Cortines, 82, said in an interview that he was enjoying retirement but was persuaded to take the interim job after the school board voted unanimously to enlist him.
He declined to comment on Mr. Deasy’s legacy. “I’ve been quarterbacked so many times,” he said in a telephone interview, noting that he had appointed Mr. Deasy in 2010.
Mr. Cortines said his first priority would be to resolve problems with the new student records system. More broadly, he said, he wanted to start a “civil and respectful” dialogue involving the district, board, teachers, administrators and parents.
“That’s not what’s been going on,” he said.
- Ian Lovett contributed reporting.
AP/Washington Post: Los Angeles schools superintendent resigns
By Tami Abdollah, Associated Press from the Washington Post | Tami Abdollah http://wapo.st/1pkKt8w
FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2012 file photo, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy listens during a school board meeting in Los Angeles. Deasy announced his resignation Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. (Damian Dovarganes, File/Associated Press)
October 16 at 5:22 PM :: LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy resigned as head of the nation’s second-largest school system after failing to overcome technological problems, clashing with the teachers union and losing allies on the school board.
The resignation was announced Thursday in a joint statement by Deasy and the board. A separate statement said former Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines would return to head the school system for the third time starting Oct. 20 while officials search for a successor.
Deasy, 53, led the district for more than three years and was applauded for improving student performance. Under him, the district had higher test scores, improved attendance and better graduation rates.
However, a $1 billion plan to give each student an iPad was fraught with problems, and Deasy’s communications with vendors were investigated. In addition, the district’s new computerized scheduling system left students languishing in useless classes or without courses needed to graduate.
Deasy had a rocky relationship with the teachers union and school board, where he lost a number of allies after the 2013 election. He was also criticized for a brusque leadership style. Deasy did not respond to a request for comment.
Early in his tenure, he removed 130 teachers from Miramonte Elementary School when teacher Mark Berndt was charged with lewd acts on children. The teachers were placed at an unopened empty campus while an investigation ensued. The unprecedented move strained his relationship with the United Teachers of Los Angeles.
It was further stressed by his support of a lawsuit intended to undo teacher tenure protections in the state. A judge ruled the protections are unconstitutional and discriminate against minority and low-income students. The decision is being appealed by the state.
Deasy also sought to measure the performance of teachers and supported legislation to make teacher dismissal easier.
United Teachers Los Angeles said in a statement marked with an exclamation mark that Deasy’s departure was “an opportunity to move in the direction of fully funded schools and collaborative management, instead of treating school improvement as a ‘corporate turnaround’ model, over-emphasizing testing, undermining equity and access for students, and attacking educators.”
However, education advocates lauded Deasy for his efforts to bring reforms and accountability to public education.
Students Matter, a nonprofit group that filed the teacher tenure lawsuit, said Deasy showed a tireless commitment to education equality.
“For all his successes, Dr. Deasy has been met with an ever-challenging and dysfunctional political environment as LAUSD superintendent,” the statement said.
He was driven from his post in part because he advocated for significant changes to California education policies, it added.
School board member Steve Zimmer said Deasy’s work for youths was game-changing and included revamping school discipline to make it more holistic than punitive.
The joint decision regarding his resignation was “incredibly difficult,” Zimmer said.
“When you are a catalytic leader, sometimes there’s going to be pain that’s associated with the changes that you’re making and you’ve got to be able to balance the urgency of the momentum for change with making sure everybody is moving along with you,” he said.
Deasy’s contract had been set to expire in 2016. According to a six-page separation agreement, Deasy will remain on special assignment through the end of the year, helping the district with the transition.
The statement announcing Deasy’s resignation noted that the district was continuing to investigate the iPad project but the board does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts.
In 2012, the district paid $200,000 to settle a claim by a former district employee of sexual harassment by Cortines. He acknowledged bad judgment in a statement released by the district at the time but said no harassment occurred.
The 82-year-old Cortines, whom Deasy succeeded in 2011, said he was somewhat apprehensive about his third turn at the top job. When a district official approached him about it 10 days ago, he said he wouldn’t agree without all seven board members voting in his favor. He said the official called his bluff when that happened earlier this week.
“I will give it my best shot,” Cortines said. “No superintendent can solve or deal with the issues alone that are facing that district...The board and the superintendent have to be a team. It doesn’t mean they always agree, but they have to respect each other and there has to be civility.”
He said he’ll be meeting with district leadership Monday to start work on solving the computer system’s problems. Cortines said he’s also asked to meet Monday with the head of the teacher’s union.
“We have to have somebody right now who can bring everybody together and I think that person is Ray Cortines,” Zimmer said.
Ed Week: John Deasy Resigns Top Post in L.A.; Ramon C. Cortines to Be Interim Chief
By Lesli A. Maxwell in Education Week | http://bit.ly/1sQWmrF
October 16, 2014 1:45 PM :: Superintendent John Deasy has now officially resigned from Los Angeles Unified, bringing an end to an at-times tumultuous run as the chief of the nation's second largest school district.
Deasy announced his resignation in a joint statement with the Los Angeles school board. The school board also announced that Ramon C. Cortines will serve as the district's interim superintendent, effective Monday, Oct. 20. This will be Cortines' third go-round as chief in L.A. Unified.
Here's the joint statement from Deasy and the school board:
Today, Superintendent John Deasy tendered his resignation as General Superintendent of Schools from the District. We thank Dr. Deasy for over three years of devoted service to the District and its students. In that period of time, academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships, and the students of the District have benefitted greatly from Dr. Deasy's guidance. We look forward to jointly celebrating all of the successes of our students that have occurred during Dr. Deasy's tenure as Superintendent. While the District's investigation into the Common Core Technology Project has not concluded, the Board wishes to state that at this time, it does not believe that the Superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts, and the Board anticipates that the Inspector General's report will confirm this. We further jointly desire a smooth transition in leadership. Towards that end, Dr. Deasy has agreed to remain on special assignment with the District until December 31, 2014.
Deasy's resignation is hardly a surprise, and last night, both the Los Angeles Times and LA School Report reported that he had already worked out his departure agreement with the board and would make the announcement today.
The school district also posted Deasy's full resignation letter on its website.
For months, the hard-charging Deasy has sparred with the school board, as well as United Teachers Los Angeles, over a range of issues, including the district's botched rollout of a $1.3 billion iPad program and his leadership style that some critics contend has demoralized teachers and staff members across the district. Deasy, who has overseen a rise in graduation rates, higher test scores, and improvements for English-language learners, has kept strong support in the city's civic and business communities.
Photo credit: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy listens during a 2012 board meeting in Los Angeles. --Damian Dovarganes/AP-File