Carson High School Trailblazer Staff Editorial (student newspaper from MyHighSchoolJournalism.org | http://bit.ly/eeTTkW
Friday, January 28, 2011 LAUSD, the second largest school district in the nation, needs help improving. A new superintendent might just do the trick.
Come April 15th, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Ramon C. Cortines, 78, will be retiring his post as superintendent to John Deasy.
Cortines’ successor was announced on January 11th. However, the decision-making sparked up some disapproval from certain unions and one LAUSD Board member. That member, Steve Zimmer, abstained in the 6-0 vote believing that, though capable, Deasy was hired too easily—he had no competition! Under normal circumstances, the district would conduct a public, nationwide search for the next superintendent, something the United Teachers of Los Angeles believed should have happened. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, taken with Deasy, had a large influence over his appointment but Deasy, who joined LAUSD in July of 2010 as deputy superintendent, was long expected to be superintendent-in-waiting. There was also the issue that LAUSD is already money tight as it is and a search would be both unnecessary and time-consuming.
Despite the lack of competition, Deasy’s capabilities won over the District Board, the Los Angeles mayor, and us. In his years of experience, the man was the leader of three different school districts including the Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District worthy of note. It was there he was among the first to break up large campuses and create smaller academies—an idea that traveled along to Carson High and our establishment of SLCs. Among his colleagues, he’s also been known to be a character of practicality and assertiveness: always approaching problems with an attitude determined to fix it. Deasy’s national reputation came to be as the “public education reformer.” And to top it off, he’s already been shadowing Superintendent Cortines for months and therefore couldn’t be more prepared. A nationwide search would have been trivial compared to the reasonable and efficient decision to hire Deasy .
Deasy has already set to getting involved. After the recent Gardena High Shooting, Deasy plans to review the district’s safety policies. He also makes a point about treating both schools and the students in the schools with dignity.
Deasy’s contract grants him a one-time bonus if he achieves the following three tasks: increase the percentage of third graders who can read at grade level, increase the percentage of ninth graders scoring proficient in algebra by four, and increase the percentage of high school students that graduate within four years by six.
The Superintendent-to-be is also a supporter of using student test scores to evaluate teachers. He does not, however, think that the hire and fire method will get us to succeed.
Deasy’s main reform is to turn around chronically low performing schools, and possibly make them chartered. It seems Carson isn’t out of the charter school haze yet, folks. Deasy supports proven highly effective charter schools in which the faculty focus is so unyielding, no student falls behind. Either way, it seems Carson and the rest of the district may be in better hands this coming April.