Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The drumbeat of support from the (un)usual suspects: HEAD OF THE CLASS+ COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORT APPOINTMENT

New L.A. Supt. John Deasy clearly has changes in mind for the school district, but he's also a moderate and thoughtful voice.

LA Times Editorial | http://lat.ms/hXaH93

January 11, 2011 -- It was obvious from the start that John Deasy had been brought to Los Angeles to be considered for the job of superintendent of schools, if not outright groomed for it. It's to his credit that his unsurprising elevation from deputy to the top spot is also something for the district and the public to be pleased about.

Arriving from the reform-minded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and intent on establishing more meaningful teacher evaluations, Deasy is, of course, viewed with suspicion by United Teachers Los Angeles, which opposes allowing student test scores to play any role in the evaluation process. Deasy also had a major hand in negotiating a legal settlement that, if it receives the expected approval of the courts, will limit the role of teacher seniority during layoffs, which is also opposed by UTLA. Yet the response of union leadership to Deasy's promotion has been muted, a testament to his inclusive, affable style. Though some have criticized the board for not engaging in a full and public search, we feel it has taken the right step in selecting Deasy. In such troubled times, a smooth leadership change prevents added disruption.

More important, although Deasy clearly has changes in mind, he strikes us as a moderate and thoughtful voice, neither a reform ideologue nor a teacher-basher. We agree with him that test scores must be part of teachers' evaluations because they are an important part of what we ask teachers to achieve each year; at the same time, we also agree with him that scores, whose use as a teacher-measuring tool is limited so far, should be just one small part of a multifaceted review of teachers' work.

Above all, Deasy is known as a collaborative leader who works well with groups as disparate as charter operators and unions. Union leaders can expect to be invited to the table for discussions of various issues affecting the schools. What UTLA can't expect is to storm away from the table and still have a powerful voice. That's what happened last year when it refused to work with the district to settle an ACLU lawsuit over layoffs. When union leaders quit the discussions, negotiators, including Deasy, went ahead, forging a tentative settlement that went far beyond what would have been hammered out had UTLA remained involved.

UTLA clearly hopes its candidates will control a majority of the school board after the March election in which four seats are in contention. Whether the union succeeds or not, Deasy deserves the board's continued support.

Community Organizations Support Appointment of Dr. John Deasy as New Superintendent for Los Angeles Unified School District

United Way of Greater LA Press Release | http://bit.ly/e25Jup

Organizations supporting Dr. Deasy's appointment include: United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles Urban League, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Alliance for a Better Community, and Families In Schools

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- We encourage the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board to appoint Dr. John Deasy as the next superintendent succeeding Ramon Cortines.

We as community and civil rights leaders have had multiple opportunities to work with Dr. Deasy during the several months he has been with the district as deputy superintendent and applaud his vision and commitment to improving the quality of education in the nation's second-largest school district. Dr. Deasy not only brings 20 years' experience as a school district superintendent but commands the respect of others because of his accessible and transparent leadership style and proven track record working with teachers. We find Dr. Deasy to be incredibly experienced, highly competent, well respected and pragmatic about the work we need to do to improve our schools. He has demonstrated a sense of urgency to take best practices and models that are improving student opportunities for a quality education and apply them to LAUSD.

LAUSD is at a critical juncture and we must build on the momentum started by superintendent Cortines. We believe continuity of this leadership is of paramount importance and that Dr. Deasy is the best person in the country for this position. We face many challenges to improve our schools especially with the looming budget cuts and deficit – the time for decisive action is now. 

Education reform requires a major commitment from diverse constituents to work together. It does not rely on any single elected official but rather a strong partnership with community and civic leaders. Dr. Deasy understands the importance of involving community leaders and working in partnership with us in a shared vision to improve educational outcomes for all students at LAUSD. 

We applaud superintendent Cortines' visionary leadership and the work he has done to create more accountability in the system. His focus has been on the needs of students and making sure they receive an education that will successfully lead them to graduate prepared for college and the workforce.

We look forward to continue working with Dr. Deasy, superintendent Cortines, the School Board, teachers, labor, administrators, parents and other non profit organizations toward a quality education for all students.

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