Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Howard Blume - LA Times/LA Now |

UPDATE  Aug 25  - LA Times expanded coverage: LAUSD's John Deasy stresses administrator responsibility, promises aid |


Photo: Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy meets with LAUSD administrators before his address at the Superintendent's 2011 Annual Meeting on Wednesday at Hollywood High School. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

August 24, 2011 | 12:37 pm - L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy presented a grand, difficult bargain Wednesday in his first, formal address to administrators of the nation’s second-largest school system.

He will try to get out of their way and also remove constraints from an “ossified” bureaucracy. They, in turn, will have to deliver sharply improving academic achievement.

“I’m committed to finding ways to provide the support necessary to free you from the restraints that impede you from this work,” said Deasy, noting that his expectations could make their jobs uncomfortable at times.

As he has on other occasions, Deasy read from Martin Luther King Jr.'s explanation of his impatience to end segregation at lunch counters and elsewhere, out of which Deasy stated his own imperative for results.

“We are indeed impatient,” Deasy said. “The lunch counter for LAUSD youth is graduation and proficiency and attendance.”

The annual, start-of-the-year speech to administrators has become a much-watched ritual in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a temperature check of sorts on the district’s top manager, his program and how the rank-and-file are receiving it. Deasy assumed the top spot in mid-April, with the retirement of Ramon C. Cortines. Like his predecessors, Deasy took pleasure in reciting the achievements of particular schools at some length.

But as superintendent Deasy has had to take responsibility for “restructuring” several low-performing middle and high schools. In that process, all staff must reinterview for jobs; administrators are typically replaced along with most teachers. Deasy has clearly signaled he’s prepared to take this step as often as he feels necessary.

Administrators packed into the historic Hollywood High School auditorium were well aware of the school-site shake-ups and some expressed, anonymously, some wariness toward Deasy.

Their task -- making large, continuous gains in student achievement --is increasingly difficult in a climate of reduced state funding, Deasy acknowledged.

“There is definitely an assault, in my opinion, on public education,” which Deasy characterized as underfunded and undervalued.

“Not only must this stop,” he said of the attacks on public education, but L.A. Unified must lead the way in reshaping perceptions about the failures of public schools.

“What happens in Los Angeles is hugely important and consequential,” Deasy said. “L.A. is America, only sooner … We had better figure this out so we can lead.”

Dorsey High School principal Reginald Sample said he is ready to embrace Deasy’s challenge.

“To me, it’s healthy pressure -- to pull the best out of us as instructional leaders,” Sample said.


●●smf: I was ill and unable to attend this speech, the first I’ve missed since Romer. I invite others who were there to share their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise.

One early responder cynically called it a “Tony Robbins” moment and praised the professionalism of the closing video.

UPDATE: An administrator writes: “Deasy cloaked himself in the mantle of the civil rights movement by quoting Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King and later, RFK.  Lots of slogans, kudos and guilt trips. . .

“[He spoke]  about a “new way with labor” based upon ‘trust, honesty and civility.’  We’ll see what this new way will mean in practice.

ANOTHER UPDATE - from the ubiquitous  highly placed source: “I never go to those meetings.  It is a waste of time.”

…and Dr. Deasy himself tweets: 

John DeasyDrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

Great inspiration for me 2 speak w/ LAUSD leaders this morning- to share thoughts on our core business of improving instruction

John DeasyDrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

... Miguel Contreras, Belmont, Jefferson, LATeacher Prep- all schools w/ 100% FRL. Great accomplishment 2 the students @ those schools.

John DeasyDrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

20% CAHSEE growth over last 5 years 4 Roosevelt, W. Adams, Manual Arts, San Fernando, Garfield....

John DeasyDrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

LAUSD's improvement over last 7 years are 2nd highest in CA when compared 2 all urban districts- 13% increase in ELA & 15% increase in math.

John DeasyDrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

Excited to share great news that CAHSEE pass rates @ all-time high of 75% in both ELA & Math. First time where ELA & math are @ same rate.

John Deasy

DrDeasyLAUSD John Deasy

Lastly, it was a pleasure 2 bear witness 2 talent of LAUSD students- Great rendition of "Fever" by students of Ramon Cortines School of VAPA

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