From the AALA Update | Week of December 17, 2012
On December 6, 2012, six LAUSD administrators met with ten educators associated with the Aspen Institute to discuss the reorganization of the District. The Aspen Institute is an educational policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent, was able to select the District’s reorganization as a “problem of practice” for review by the Institute. The Aspen representatives interviewed four different groups from the District (school-site administrators, senior staff, central office staff and one other) to obtain their views on the reorganization. Gary Garcia, SHSPO (Senior High School Principals Organization) President and Hamilton High School Principal, provided the following summary of issues raised by his group regarding the new ESCs. Below is an excerpt from his letter to high school principals, summarizing the meeting, that was copied to Dr. Judith Perez, AALA President, and Michelle King, Senior Deputy Superintendent, School Operations.
I gave the Aspen Institute group copies of the comments e-mailed to me from SHSPO members and made clear that as long as schools are underresourced – the 4 Cs: class size, clerical, custodial and counselors, it is irrelevant how the District reorganizes itself. The irrelevancy is exacerbated by the significant increase we have seen this school year of school-site administrators’ workloads with the new District initiatives and other tasks.
There is a need to clarify the roles of the instructional directors and operations coordinators.
o In most cases, we now have more meetings than last year; some called by the directors and others by the operations coordinators.
o How well the reorganization is going very much depends on the quality of individual directors and operations coordinators.
o Many operations coordinators have not interacted well with high school principals in that some assumed the role of a director in what and how they speak to principals.
o Still lacking clarity on what items are operational and what items are instructional. I find myself responding to the same item twice to each director.
o What actions can be taken by operations coordinator to alleviate or eliminate compliance items on our check list? There seems to be a disconnect between the checks on a document and the time needed to complete the document.
Below are some of the comments sent to Gary by principals that he shared at the meeting.
…there is little consistency between the ESCs, particularly with the aspect that affects us most—how the networks are set up.
I was surprised to learn that some principals like the networks. I don't—we do not have access to our colleagues en total. It seems more like a divide and conquer maneuver to me.
We went from control over our own professional development to mandated modules that are repetitive and not all that helpful. We are not able to focus on strategies and programs that grow out of data specific to our own campus… Lock step. Stepford teachers and campuses.
As a matter of fact, given appropriate resources at the school site, we could eliminate most of the ESCs altogether.
The assertion that the network meetings might be better than the “full K-12 LD meetings” of the past, is probably correct; however, it does not honor the good work that at least one LD did as far as differentiating the PD for the elementary and secondary levels.
There are more meetings, plans, worksheets due which is diluting my ability to spend time on instruction.
In retrospect, I received more help when I was with my LD… This year in ISIC, I saw the math coach the first week and… have not seen her since. My director... stops by infrequently at best. I don't think anyone on our staff knows who our local superintendent is, probably because he has not visited the school... Being a pilot school only adds another layer of reports and accountabilities to navigate through.
THANK YOU, DR. DEASY
All principals received a letter from Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent, on December 10, 2012, expressing gratitude for their leadership as the District is going through the throes of the reorganization. In his letter, he mentions the establishment of a clearinghouse process to streamline communications and reduce the number of e-mails that principals receive from the central offices. AALA certainly appreciates this initial step in response to the vociferously expressed concerns of our members regarding this issue and look forward to its implementation.