By Howard Blume | Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/1ddpzTP
Jaime Aquino, left, has resigned from his post of deputy superintendent with the Los Angeles Unified School District. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / August 5, 2013)
September 13, 2013, 9:06 p.m. :: Calling the Los Angeles Board of Education dysfunctional and warning that academic progress is at stake, a senior school district administrator confirmed Friday that he is resigning.
Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino said he would remain with the nation's second-largest school system through Dec. 31.
His departure removes the top manager for academic initiatives during a period of rapid and seminal change, including a new curriculum, a new program for students learning English, a mandate that all students meet college-preparation requirements and a program to distribute tablet computers to every student.
Aquino has been the right-hand man for L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, who called his departure a "terrible loss."
Aquino, 48, said that the current school board majority has begun to micromanage everyday functions and that the efforts of senior staff are being routinely greeted with mistrust.
At the same time, he added, the board has been unable to reach consensus on what it wants to do, leading to paralysis and diverging agendas that are beginning to take a toll.
"The current political climate does not allow me to lead an agenda that is in the best interests of the kids," Aquino said. "I don’t want to leave. I think we were doing major work in transforming students' lives, and I wanted to continue to be part of that journey."
This week's board meeting was a prime example, Aquino said. For the second time, board members failed to approve a spending plan for $113 million provided by the state to help the district prepare for new Common Core learning standards adopted by California and 45 other states.
Aquino said he spent weeks providing information to board members and making changes based on their input. But at the meeting, new questions arose and the board was unable to take action. The result is that crucial training for teachers will be delayed by months, even as the school system is switching to a new curriculum.
Aquino said his departure is not a result of two major past confrontations he had with new school board President Richard Vladovic. Those incidents were part of an internal investigation into whether Vladovic's treatment of district employees crossed legal or ethical boundaries. Vladovic, a retired senior district administrator, has served on the board since 2007.
The run-ins had resulted in Aquino threatening to resign, but Aquino said Vladovic has since treated him respectfully. The issue, he said, is the direction of the school system.
Vladovic did not return fire in kind Friday.
"Dr. Aquino served the students of LAUSD admirably for the past few years," Vladovic said in a statement. "He made a decision to leave the district and pursue other endeavors. I wholeheartedly thank him for his service to our students and district."
Vladovic has acknowledged having outbursts of temper but said they arise from his passion for helping students and that he respects the professional staff.
Deasy himself had threatened to resign when Vladovic became board president in July. The two have frequently been at odds outside of public view.
Vladovic asked him not to and has been at pains to treat all parties with deference since becoming board president.
Still, the perceived distrust for senior staff is read by many observers as discomfort with Deasy -- an assertive leader who differs philosophically on key issues with some board members. Aquino was resolutely loyal to Deasy.
Several members of Deasy's team were unhappy recently when the board refused Deasy's request to give them multiyear contracts. Aquino and others were offered one-year pacts.
Aquino joined the school system in July 2011. He had been a senior official in the New York City and Denver school systems.
Aquino's departure is another sign that a school board once controlled by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Deasy ally, has moved in another direction. Vladovic was, in fact, considered part of Villaraigosa's bloc for most of his time on the board.
Several outside organizations expressed concerns over Aquino's departure.
“Students can't afford to lose key advocates such as Dr. Aquino, who truly understand the urgency of meeting their needs," said Elise Buik, president of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which has strongly backed Deasy.
"Dr. Aquino has played a lead role in implementing policies that are especially vital to the success of students of color and low-income students," she said. "It's unfortunate to see the school district lose strong talent.”
The board majority is more aligned with the views of the teachers union and, to some degree, of the administrators union. Not surprisingly, United Teachers Los Angeles did not mourn the departure of Aquino, who served during a time when teachers were increasingly evaluated by student standardized-test scores.
Union President Warren Fletcher said L.A. Unified would benefit from new leadership that is less bureaucratic and less focused on testing.
Such testing, he said, should be "a tool to improve instruction, rather than the driver of every aspect of every child’s educational experience.”
Top Deasy adviser Jaime Aquino quits as LAUSD instructional chief: ‘My heart is completely broken’
Jaime Aquino, the instructional chief for Los Angeles Unified and Superintendent John Deasy’s top adviser, resigned Friday, saying the school board’s recent efforts to stall key reform initiatives have left him unable to do his job. (Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)
By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/17yBcme
9/13/13, 2:23 PM PDT | Updated: 9/14/13 midnight :: Jaime Aquino, the instructional chief for Los Angeles Unified and Superintendent John Deasy’s top adviser, resigned Friday, saying the school board’s recent efforts to stall key reform initiatives have left him unable to do his job.
His resignation from the $250,000-a-year position as deputy superintendent of instruction is effective Dec. 31.
<< Aquino proposed spending nearly $25 million to elevate 122 teachers to leadership positions, working with principals and other educators to develop lessons aligned to the new standards. But some board members were leery of the plan, citing a failed teacher-coaching program from a decade ago, while others worried about deployment of the teaching specialists. (Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)
“It’s the right thing for me to do,” Aquino said Friday afternoon, shortly after concluding what he described as a tearful meeting with local superintendents and other members of his staff.
“I’m not leaving to pursue other interests, and I have not secured another job. My heart is completely broken. But the current climate doesn’t allow me to lead an agenda that is in the best interest of kids.”
Aquino said he believes the momentum of Deasy’s “student-centered agenda” has been hampered in the months since South Bay representative Richard Vladovic was chosen to head the school board.
“Vladovic has said that the role of the board is to set policy, but that’s not what I see happening,” Aquino said. “The board is going beyond the role of policy-making into day-to-day decision-making.”
Deasy said other members of his leadership team have similar concerns about their ability to continue implementing reforms that have led to improved student test scores and higher graduation rates.
“There are others on my team who are in a similar position, and we’re trying to work through that,” Deasy said.
He declined to comment on his own future as superintendent of the nation’s second-largest school district.
Aquino’s resignation is the first sign that the team Deasy assembled to turn around a struggling district is caving under the pressure of new membership and leadership on the school board.
Deasy supporter Nury Martinez gave up her San Fernando Valley seat in the spring and was succeeded by former teacher Monica Ratliff, who has voiced support for the superintendent but hasn’t consistently backed his plans.
In July, the board chose Vladovic as its president, ending the six-year tenure of Monica Garcia, a reform advocate and Deasy’s staunchest supporter on the board. Vladovic moved immediately to strengthen the board’s role in setting district priorities rather than following the superintendent’s lead.
Vladovic said he was shocked and saddened by Aquino’s decision to resign. “I think he’s done a real fine job,” he said in a phone interview, just moments after learning from Deasy that Aquino will be leaving. “Having worked with many curriculum experts, I can say that he’s at the top of the field and at the top of his game.”
Aquino’s decision to resign came three days after a frustrating eight-hour meeting in which the school board postponed a decision on how to spend $113 million in state money to prepare the district for Common Core, the new English and math standards taking effect in 2014. The budget issue was postponed until a special meeting next Tuesday; at the time, Aquino worried that any delay could derail the district’s ability to get teachers trained in time to implement the new curriculum.
Vladovic said he had the same reservations as Aquino about postponing this week’s vote on the Common Core budget, but he had hoped to work out a compromise at next Tuesday’s meeting.
Aquino proposed spending nearly $25 million to elevate 122 teachers to leadership positions, working with principals and other educators to develop lessons aligned to the new standards. But some board members were leery of the plan, citing a failed teacher-coaching program from a decade ago, while others worried about deployment of the teaching specialists.
“I was blown off my chair and didn’t see it coming,” Vladovic said of Aquino’s decision to quit.
He also addressed his personal relationship with Aquino, whom he shouted at during an incident last year.
“We worked that out, and it’s long past,” Vladovic said. “I’m comfortable with his leadership and have said so at board meetings.”
Vladovic also said he wished he’d been able to talk with Aquino before he resigned and would want to speak to any other top administrator who might be weighing their future with the district.
Other board members also expressed their dismay at Aquino’s departure.
“I really loved working with him,” said Tamar Galatzan, a reform advocate who represents the West San Fernando Valley. “Under his leadership, test scores have gone up and we’ve brought a lot of innovation and good practices into our educational produce. I’ll really miss him.”
Garcia praised Aquino as “enormously talented and a critical part of the district’s growth in instruction,” and said she had asked him to reconsider his decision.
Board Vice President Steve Zimmer noted Aquino’s leadership in improving instruction, particularly for the district’s English-learners.
“His expertise, his experience and his urgency to move this district forward will be a loss for the district, for the teachers and for kids,” said Zimmer, whose district stretches from the Valley to the Westside and Hollywood.
Zimmer also said he understood Aquino’s concerns about the shifting dynamics within the district hierarchy.
“The changes in climate have to do with the levels of collaboration between the board and the administration,” he said. “If I thought that everyone wasn’t trying to work in the best interests of kids, I would have a hard time continuing as well.”
TOP SCHOOL OFFICIAL RESIGNS AMID TURN TO NEW TEACHING STANDARD
Annie Gilbertson | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC | http://bit.ly/14UsfQS
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez - Teachers receive iPads as part of a new technology program at Los Angeles Unified School District. Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jaime Aquino (not pictured), who helped lead the charge on making classroom use of iPads a cornerstone of Common Core adoption, but that led to some friction at the district. On Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, Aquino notified the district that he plans to resign from his post at the end of the year.
LISTEN TO RADIO STORY – [ guest appearance by smf]
September 13th, 2013, 2:24pm :: Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jaime Aquino has notified the Los Angeles Unified School District that he plans to resign from his post at the end of the year, a district spokesman said.
The departure comes as a surprise to many as the district prepares to enter the first year of new learning standards called Common Core — an initiative Aquino is spearheading.
The Common Core standards, championed by the U.S. Department of Education, emphasize teaching critical thinking skills over rote memorization.
Aquino has encountered some friction since he joined L.A. Unified in 2011. Much of that has come from his role in making classroom use of iPads a cornerstone of Common Core adoption.
Earlier this week, the school board voted to delay Aquino's budget to implement the Common Core standards. Some members cited concerns over the number of teacher coaching positions — 122 — the district had requested to train teachers in the new standards.
Aquino assumed his current position in July, 2011. He oversees the local district superintendents, curriculum and instruction, special education, adult education, mental health and social services and parent and community engagement.
Deputy LAUSD Superintendent In Charge Of iPad Rollout To Resign
CBS Los Angeles http://cbsloc.al/164u3Go
District officials say Dr. Jaime Aquino will remain on his post until Dec. 31. (Photo courtesy Los Angeles Unified School District)
September 13, 2013 2:37 PM :: LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A high-ranking official with the Los Angeles Unified School District will resign at the end of the year, district officials confirmed Friday.
Dr. Jaime Aquino, who has served as Deputy Superintendent of Instruction under John Deasy since 2011, was in charge of a plan to distribute iPads to students throughout the LAUSD. He is also supervising efforts to conform the district’s instructional protocols to the Common Core State Standards, according to the district.
The reason for Aquino’s resignation was not immediately clear, but he is scheduled to retain his post until Dec. 31, district officials said.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Aquino formerly worked in New York City as a bilingual teacher. In 1990, he was honored as New York State Bilingual Teacher of the Year before transitioning to his role as Deputy Executive Director for the New York City Department of Education’s Division of Instructional Support.
From 2005 to 2008, Aquino served as the Chief Academic Officer for the Denver Public Schools before eventually joining the LAUSD in July 2011.
An official statement from the LAUSD was not immediately available.