Wednesday, January 12, 2011



Ohanian Comment: John Deasy first appeared on my site in 2003, back in his Santa Monica days. When Deasy moved from Santa Monica to become schools chief in Prince George's County, Stanford University education professor Michael Kirst remarked that he had a "zest for politics." The record shows that Deasy carefully notes which side of the bread is buttered. Follow the money.

As schools chief in Prince George's County, Deasy hooked up with Jon Schnur of New Leaders for New Schools, who insists that if you can lead an Army unit in Iraq, you can turn around a failing school in a large urban district.

In an ugly 2007 Associated Press story about school restructuring under NCLB, Deasy's position was quoted about Arrowhead Elementary in Prince George's County:

Superintendent Deasy acknowledges the atmosphere at Arrowhead is more intense than at schools that aren't facing restructuring. He said lessons at schools missing testing goals have to be very targeted, and he says there often isn't time for electives and free play like at other schools.

Rich kids can play. Poor kids (90% African American, 52% poverty) need to stick to the scripts.
At a 2008 Aspen Institute Education Summit, Deasy appeared on a panel with comfortable bedfellows, Kati Haycock, President, The Education Trust and Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.
It is worthwhile to consider the stated mission of this Summmit:

The missions of the Summit are to:
*build broad public awareness of the critical
weaknesses in American education today in
relation to other industrialized nations, and
an understanding that every American has a
shared responsibility and stake in the solution
build recognition that a high quality,
effective education is vital to the success of
every American and the future health and
prosperity of our nation
*develop a national consensus that immediate
action is needed to sustain and build on the
essential principles of accountability,
transparency and high expectations for every
*develop a process to grow this consensus and
achieve lasting educational reform
establish common ground and chart the bold
steps necessary to quicken the pace of reform
and mobilize the support needed to create a
public education system that helps every
student succeed and assures a more hopeful and
prosperous future for our country.

Critics said Deasy got out of Prince George's County just ahead of the trainwreck, moving on to the Gates Foundation, where he became assistant director of education. The Gates press release is pure puffery, ending with the statement that in all of his tenures as school superintendent Deasy "championed fair teacher and administrator evaluations, pay-for-performance, staff development and training, and data-based decision-making."
That reads like the tombstone inscription for the death of childhood.
In the Winter 2009 issue of Philanthropy,Deasy termed his Gates work on pay-for- performance "responsible philanthropy." Interestingly, this puff piece mentions his education: Deasy received a master's degree in education as well as a well as a bachelor's degree in chemistry and education from Providence College in Rhode Island.

No mention of a Ph.D.

The Gates Foundation puff piece on his hiring avoids any mention of his education or degrees. The president of the University of Louisville defended Deasy's Ph.D. here.
I was interested in the fact that the scandal over Deasy's PhD hit the headlines at the same time he was hired by Gates. His financial connections with Robert Felner date back to his Santa Monica days:

A year after taking over as superintendent of
the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
in 2001, Deasy recommended that his school
system pay $125,000 for a survey performed by
the National Center on Public Education and
Social Policy, which is run by Felner. The
survey was later extended for two more years at
the same price, for a total of $375,000.

In 2010 Felner was sentenced to 5 1/4 years for misappropriating funds from a research grant and from contracts with urban school districts.
Deasy stayed at the Gates Foundation only a year and a half, practicing that"responsible philanthropy," which amounts to handing out money with one hand while throwing a bomb with the other. Many speculate that the Gates job was just a holding pattern for the Los Angeles appointment, which will give him the opportunity to turn LA in to the Gates model district.

Conclusion: Felner's in jail. Deasy continues to have his bread buttered side up.

LA schools Boss to be John Deasy, of fake degree and Gates (and Broad) foundation fame

Rich Gibson and Amber Goslee | Substance News |

2011-01-07 - The Los Angeles School Board is expected to name John Deasy, now serving as an under-boss to Superintendent Ramon Cortines, to be the new superintendent of the second largest school district in the United State, serving nearly seven hundred thousand students, employing about 45,000 teachers. Deasy came to Los Angeles in August 2010 and immediately became a major and controversial voice supporting "value added" performance evaluations for teachers. His rapid rise has also been attributed to his connections to the Broad and Gates foundations — as well as to a controversial claim to being called by the title "doctor."

Deasy claims to have earned his PhD at the University of Louisville (UL) in the College of Education. The Dean of the College at the time was one Robert Felner, now serving a jail term of 63 months for a variety of frauds committed against UL — and other universities.

The controversial history of John Deasy (and the fact that his quickie "PhD" was awarded by a University of Louisville dean who later went to prison for fraud) seems to be no barrier to the top job in Los Angeles. Deasy has the support of both the Gates and Broad foundations, and that's enough for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. One charge against Feiner was the misappropriation of a $649,000 federal grant. In total, Felner was convicted of stealing $2.3 million in research grants. He was ordered to pay UL $51,000 and the University of Rhode Island $1.3 million. Felner resigned from UL in 2008. He was sentenced on May 17, 2010.

John Deasy earned his PhD directly under Felner, in a period of four months, earning nine UL credit hours.

Prior to coming to UL, Deasy had awarded Felner’s research company, the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, a $375,000 grant from the Santa Monica district where Deasy was head.

Before he came to UL, Felner had been dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Education from 1996-2003. Deasy studied there in the same period, while Deasy was also a Rhode Island school superintendent.

According to a highly placed source, formerly at UL, Deasy's dissertation’s title page carries the date, “May, 2003,” while it is signed off, “April 9, 2004.” He entered the program in January, 2004.

A UL investigation of the Deasy PhD did not condemn the practice. James Ramsey, UL president, who had turned a blind eye to Felner's notorious corruption (the faculty gave Felner a "no confidence vote" in 2006, but he served at least two more years at UL with Ramsey's full support), gave his nod to the "blue ribbon" investigation.

However, the UL handbook clearly states that a PhD candidate must spend two years on campus. More, it usually takes most students a minimum of three years. In addition, UL rarely allows a student to transfer more than six credits.

Deasy, after allegations rose up about his imaginary degree but before the investigation, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "If the university made errors in the awarding of the degree, I do hope they rescind it. My responsibility is to do everything I was advised and told to do. If I was advised wrong and given wrong information, the university needs to take responsibility for that. I certainly would not want anything unearned."

Some may find it odd that Deasy did not vigorously defend a scintillating body of work and an illuminating dissertation. His willingness to do what he is told is equally interesting.

In September, 2008, during an investigation done by Maryland, Deasy refused to release his academic records.

After meritoriously buying his PhD, Deasy went on to work with the Gates Foundation where he focused his eyes on teacher evaluations and merit pay.

He also served as superintendent in Coventry Schools in Rhode Island, Prince Georges County, and Santa Monica. He was a Broad and Annenberg Fellow.

The United Teachers of LA first met Deasy when the Los Angeles Times published their infamous “value added teaching” project which sought to link teacher effectiveness directly to test scores. Deasy heartily supported the effort, demanding that UTLA re-open the contract to include the measurement for matters of pay and promotion. UTLA rejected his demand.

UTLA, like other big districts, is now engaged in an internal election battle that will likely determine the direction of the union, that is, more retreats or a ferocious effort to emancipate education from the ruling classes.

Rich Gibson has a real PhD from The Pennsylvania State University (you can look it up, dissertation online and really long too). He is an emeritus professor of education at San Diego State and is a co-founder of the Rouge Forum. He can be reached at

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