Saturday, June 26, 2010


Teachers in LA and SF will see more cutbacks and pink slips in 2010-2011

Corey G. Johnson | California Watch Blog |


Flickr photo by Jason Evans

June 25, 2010 |Amid protest signs and tearful pleas, school boards in San Francisco and Los Angeles approved budgets this week that will result in more furlough days and pink slips.

With operating costs going up, $1,171 less funding per student than in 2008 and an overall shortfall of $113 million, San Francisco Unified's board approved a budget that will reduce summer school, art programs and employees, while forcing all district administrators to take five unpaid days off during the 2010-11 school year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Upwards of 900 teachers could be laid off next year to boot.

Meanwhile, down south, a deficit of some $640 million made the LA Board of Education resolute in approving spending cuts, despite the passionate pleas of teachers and others who decided to protest at the meeting.

While school workers waved hulking placards with "Save Our Schools" painted across the sides, the board voted 6-1 to approve the budget filled with crippling spending reductions.

So starting July 1, between 2,700 to 4,000 LA Unified School District employees could begin to be laid off, according to the LA Daily News. The recent news comes days after the district announced that this year had fewer teacher job losses than originally expected. As one union leader told the Daily News on Tuesday, many LA teachers foresee hard times in the near future:

Susan Gosman, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the California School Employee Association, said her union is expected to lose some 1,500 members while another 1,000 have been placed on a 10-month work calendar, reducing their salaries by about 15 percent.

'We are the infrastructure of this district. We keep student records, track students, administer special education services,' Gosman said.

'Without us, schools will fall apart.'

The goings-on in LA and San Francisco ensure that the state's budget woes will continue to reverberate in Sacramento and in court. At least one columnist has stumbled across a solution to stem the bleeding. In calling for an end to corporate welfare, Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times wrote:

None of this means that business incentives are necessarily bad or that some may not indeed promote job growth. But the budget disaster requires every program to be measured against competing priorities, and corporate welfare hasn't gotten enough scrutiny.

What could we do with all that money? The $100 million spent on Hollywood could maintain any of several Medi-Cal benefits the governor proposes to cut. The $500 million spent on enterprise zones could save half of CalWORKS, and $1 billion from a severance tax could save all of it, benefiting a billion children. Eliminate some of these questionable programs, and more could be spent on the schools and the universities.

We're constantly being told that in these straitened times, we need to make hard choices. So where should our money go – to Warner Bros., to the membership of the Chamber of Commerce, or to the schools, the poor and the sick?


New LA deputy superintendent comes with murky past

Corey G. Johnson | California Watch Blog |

Flickr photo by Alan Turkus

June 24, 2010 | A top official involved in pushing for new teacher evaluation procedures and other reforms at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was appointed Tuesday as second in command at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

After discussing the appointment in closed session, the LA Board of Education approved John E. Deasy to become Superintendent Ramon Cortines' deputy – thereby filling a post vacant since Cortines ascended to the top position in December 2008.

Deasy is deputy director of education at the Gates Foundation, responsible for overseeing $200 million in education grants, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Before joining the Gates Foundation, Deasy was superintendent at Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland’s second-largest school system and the nation’s 18th largest district with 134,000 students.

His stint in Maryland became tumultous when allegations surfaced that Deasy may have awarded a $125,000 contract to his academic adviser in exchange for favorable consideration toward his doctorate. The adviser, Robert Felner, former dean of the school of education at the University of Louisville, pleaded guilty to 10 federal charges of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Deasy's attorney, Scott Cox, insisted his client was innocent and the victim of Felner's bad publicity:

And Dr. Deasy, as far as we can tell, earned legitimately his Ph.D. And there is so much negative publicity associated with Dr. Felner and anything he's connected with, it really is unfortunate that Dr. Deasy got dragged into this. He didn't do anything wrong except get his Ph.D.

Deasy's appointment could put him next in line to assume LAUSD's top spot, if 77-year-old Cortines decides to step down. It also could signal a more intense focus on reforming the district's policies toward teacher pay, tenure and accountability. Deasy is on record for favoring a different approach, according to an observer's account of one of Deasy's presentations:

For example, Deasy said $8.4 billion nationally goes into compensat(ing) teachers with a master's (MA/MS) degree, yet there is no relationship between a MA degree and increased student achievement. … Deasy said we must completely re-conceptualize tenure with a dramatic change in compensation and accountability.


more from corey C. johnson:

What I Am Reading
Attorney: Robert Felner to plead guilty to siphoning millions from Louisville, Rhode Island universities | | The Courier-Journal

Complete coverage of the Robert Felner fraud case |

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