By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/MGUKrO
LAUSD school administrators listen to Superintendent John Deasy during the Aug. 9. 2012 annual meeting held at Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles. (Brad Graverson/Staff Photographer)
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy addresses school administrators during an annual meeting on Aug. 9, 2012 at Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles. (Brad Graverson/ Staff Photographer)
8/09/2012 9:02:33 PM PDT :: Setting an ambitious agenda for the new school year, Superintendent John Deasy urged Los Angeles Unified leaders Thursday to continue efforts to boost student achievement, and also vowed to get them the computers needed to get the job done.
Deasy outlined the district's accomplishments during a back-to-school pep talk, where he exhorted more than 1,000 principals and administrators to help the public understand the transformational work taking place in the nation's second-largest school district.
Deasy also said he is committed to supplying each of the 600,000-plus students, plus every teacher, with a tablet computer within the next 15 months -- a promise that drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
District officials previously have said that Deasy is trying to secure corporation donations for the technology.
In touting the district's accomplishments, Deasy noted that record numbers of students passed the state high school exit exam last year, and more pupils enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and nailed the tests. And the number of student days lost to suspensions plummeted from 46,000 to 26,200, "smashing every goal we could have hoped for."
The district also exceeded its goal for helping its English-learners achieve proficiency while adding 5,000 youngsters to its gifted and talented programs.
"These aren't new initiatives. The power is sticking with them and being good at doing this work," he told the packed auditorium at Washington Preparatory High School, an 86-year-old campus under the flight path of nearby Los Angeles International Airport.
"We want to publicly make sense of this work so that people see a direct link between student achievement and the work that's taking place.
"It's really simple. We are mindful of who has the right to work with our youth. And we are mindful of how we run our business. And will continue to give parents and students high-quality public choice. The instructional core will deliver results."
Looking ahead to the school year that begins Tuesday, Deasy warned of hurdles that must be overcome as the district works to fulfill its promise of preparing every graduate for college or a job. That includes implementing a rigorous college-prep curriculum for every student, rolling out national instructional standards and improving intervention for English-learners.
"Leadership is the most powerful when we're consistent, and consistent about the work we said we're going to do," he said.
He cautioned, however, there are daunting challenges facing educators in the days ahead.
Chief among them is the dwindling amount of public money for education, he said, with California expected to withhold $1,500 of the $6,748 allocated this year for each LAUSD student.
"The state has all but given up on public education," Deasy said, as he urged employees to support a ballot initiative in November that would raise the state's sales tax to head off additional cuts in state money.
"There's going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears, because there won't be a lot of supplies," he said.
Afterward, administrators said they were inspired by his statements and felt their efforts during the school year had been validated.
"He was upbeat and positive, which is a nice change for the district," said assistant principal Joe Hill, who works with special education students at three middle schools in the south part of the district.
Although Deasy's comments drew measured applause, he didn't get the standing ovation that greeted school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who represents South Los Angeles.
At the start of the morning session, she related the story of a impoverished young girl who managed to succeed with the help of a teacher -- a tale she eventually confessed was about herself.
"I want to challenge you," she said. "Every student you have, look in their eyes. You're all they have."
By the numbers
67% -- 10th-graders who passed the high-school exit exam …which tests what they learned in the 8th grade.
43% -- Drop in the days lost to student suspensions
86% -- Students who feel safe on campus.
●● …so 14% – or something like 3-4 kids in every classroom – don’t.