Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Teacher in L.A. to Diane Ravitch: JOHN DEASY IS THE EDUCATIONAL EQUIVALENT OF DICK CHENEY + Karin Klein’s 2¢ …+ smf’s too!


By dianeravitch from her blog |

October 20, 2013   ::  This teacher, who requests anonymity for obvious reasons, has noticed a peculiar tendency on the part of editorial boards and business leaders to shower praise on educational leaders who act brusquely, with a maximum show of contempt for those they lead.  He calls this the “Dick Cheney” style of leadership. Those of us in New York have recently seen this kind of leader in our State Commissioner John King. He recently showed disdain for parents by lecturing them for over an hour at what was billed as a “dialogue about the Common Core,” then–after he was booed and hissed by those parents– insulted them as having been manipulated by “special interests.” The state board of Regents affirmed their support for him, even though he lacks the support of parents and teachers. They actually like the idea that they have a leader who is willing to bulldoze parents and educators. That was the style that didn’t win in Iraq. It certainly won’t “win” in the field of education, where collaboration is needed among parents, students teachers, principals, district leaders, and state agencies. Braggadocio and swagger work in penitentiaries and in the military: not in education.

Here is a letter from a Los Angeles teacher:

In today’s LA Times, the editorial board came out in support of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and his iPad roll out with recommended modifications.,0,7789669.story

The editorial begins:    “John Deasy, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, can be impatient and stubborn, qualities we often admire in him. It takes a sense of urgency to get things moving in L.A.’s schools, as well as a willingness to stand against the forces that resist change.”

And here lies the problem.

They still talk with school girl crush admiration about this man.  Other big city newspapers also use this IDENTICAL language to support their Superintendents who come in with their agenda to bulldoze the system.

I have been trying to think who John Deasy is.

He’s Dick Cheney brought in to run the school system.

They both share the same headstrong “sense of urgency” (for the love of God, can we PLEASE RETIRE THIS CLICHE!) and intolerance for those who stand in their way.  They both listen almost exclusively to people who have never been in the classroom while totally ignoring the advice from the “boots on the ground.”  They both push their positions without a trace of self-doubt or humility, completely disdaining the “status quo wimps” who dare ask them for real world rationales.  They both believe what they believe not requiring a trace of hard evidence to support their positions while utilizing aggressive, angry, bullying tactics to get their way.

Both Cheney and Deasy’s “plans” have been developed in secret and then sprung on the public with an intense PR pressure for everyone to get with their program.  They are backed by powerful money forces that have vested interests in their decisions.  The hubris and over confidence and righteousness in their edicts is designed to intimidate their critics.  In the system, very few feel free to speak out against them for fear of reprisal and both Cheney and LAUSD proved quite adept at meting it out (Ask Valerie Plame or many of the politically active teachers in LAUSD’s jail).

Worse, I fear, they are NEVER held accountable for the wreckage they have wrought.  In fact, they just move on without reflection.  John Deasy will one day move on.  But we will be stuck with it.

Deasy has always enjoyed tremendous support from the LA TIMES editorial board.  If you read their editorial, their admonishment of Deasy with his iPad initiative is very mild and timid.  They still support the decision and don’t address some or the critics biggest complaints about it.

Whether it is John Deasy, D.C.’s Michelle Rhee, Philadelphia’s Mark Hite, Dallas’s Mike Miles, Bridgeport’s Paul Vallas or Chicago’s CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett  the main editorial boards of each of these cities have supported the Cheney-model management style they have brought to their positions.

Although he is no longer publicly embraced as the Genius he carried himself as, Cheney enjoys a lucrative retirement and is still treated with deference and respect by many of his true believers.  The swagger has worn off but look at the cost of what Cheney was allowed to get away with.

The kids would be far better off if the press were a tad more skeptical and aggressive toward those people in power who push their School Reform.   The fawning coverage Deasy has received from the LA Times and this most recent excuse-making for them does not serve the greater education community.

And the LA kids are the collateral damage.

Karin Klein: Clarifying the L.A. Times’ Editorial Positions

By dianeravitch from her blog |

June 18, 2014  ::  This comment was posted by Karin Klein, who writes editorials for the Los Angeles Times:

“As a member of the Times editorial board, I continue to try to correct the inaccurate information that is continually put out in public about the Times’ position on education issues. The editorial board is generally a supporter of keeping Deasy, that is true. But it does not stand behind him “no matter what.” In fact, the Times editorial board has been questioning and criticizing the iPad purchase since 2012.

“I blogged last month about the importance of keeping Magruder on the bond oversight committee.

“And the editorial board followed that up with an editorial Tuesday that called for him to be reinstated.

“Debate about the education issues of the day is constructive, but the spreading of mistruths and the carelessness about accurate information does not serve that purpose.”

Karin Klein
Editorial Writer
Los Angeles Times

2cents small If anything, the Times Editorial Board is all over the place – and, in the words of the old Statler Brothers tune: “Wants its Kate …and Edith too!” Editorial Boards are committees and committee-think is often not a sync with each other or what passes for reality in modern discourse.

In a 2013 Editorial the Editorial Board wrote:

  • We'll be upfront about this: We consider Garcia a poor choice for the school board, and we always have.  In her last reelection bid, we endorsed her only because there were no candidates running against her. Now, thorn in the side of UTLA that she is, she faces four opponents, three of them endorsed by the union. UTLA leadership is reportedly ready to go all out to unseat Garcia, and the moneyed sources that back school reform are waging a fierce battle to keep her. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg alone donated $1 million to help Garcia and the other reform candidates … Garcia is a divisive and sometimes careless force on the board who lacks grace and thoughtfulness as its leader. Her positions seem less considered than reactive. Her concerns over whether schools are improving have not extended to underperforming charter schools, and her response when challenged on this is simply unacceptable: She says the district doesn't have enough money to oversee the charters properly and she doesn't want to do more to police them. Likewise, her retort about a serious conflict of interest involving former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines — "I don't know what is interesting here," she said in an interview with The Times' editorial board — reflects a dismissiveness and lack of basic understanding that is truly disturbing.” 

They then went on to endorse her for a third term. 

We tell our kids not to post stuff that may embarrass them later on social media.. The Times Editorial Board should take that advice.

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