Archives for category: Los Angeles

Karin Klein of the Los Angeles Times wrote a blistering editorial about the LAUSD school board’s failure (thus far) to get to the bottom of departing Superintendent John Deasy’s $1.3 billion iPad deal.

 

Did the board agree to let him go quietly and to quash the investigation? That would be wrong. Klein rightly says: The public has a right to know.

 

In the separation agreement, the board said it “does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts.”
Why is the board voicing anything about its belief system while a second investigation is ongoing? There have been rumors that Deasy wanted this investigation to go away as part of his agreement; Deasy vehemently denies that. Although the inspector general is an independent office within the district, the board still has authority over the office’s budget, and there shouldn’t be anything that could be perceived as pressure on the investigation to go one way or another. The appropriate response from the board? Radio silence until the investigation is complete and reviewed by the district attorney’s office, as state law requires.

 

The problem is that, although the investigation might well find that nothing criminal happened, what if it finds some ethical issues? The board has promised to take no action against Deasy on that, which makes sense; probably the worst it would have done to him was ask him to leave, so the issue is moot. It could still take action against any employees remaining, but it’s unclear who those would be. Aquino’s already gone.

 

Unless the board decides to make both reports public, the rest of us will never know whether there was a problem with the way this was handled, or whether Deasy and Aquino were utterly exonerated. Both would be equally important to know. United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl, during a meeting with the Times’ editorial board Thursday, was already talking about Deasy’s “bid-rigging,” without so much as a qualifier, as though Caputo-Pearl had some kind of criminal divining rod. Reminded that we’re a long way from knowing whether there was anything wrong with those or any other emails, much less something criminally wrong, he corrected himself, adding a couple of “allegeds” to his words. There would always be a cloud over Deasy’s head, always these conversations in which he is “convicted” by words on an utter lack of evidence, unless an investigation is made public that clears him.

 

Or the opposite. Before the project was slowed, diversified and then suspended, the public almost spent half a billion dollars on iPads that were about to be made obsolete by new models, with software that hadn’t yet been completed. If there were ethical breaches, the public has a right to the truth in every detail.

 

The board’s appropriate response to an ongoing investigation should have been to say nothing except, “We look forward to a complete and unstinting investigation that we promise to make public.” Deasy’s departure shouldn’t alter the district’s commitment to the public in any way.

 

 

 

 

Howard Blume reports in the Los Angeles Times that Superintendent John Deasy is likely to step down as early as today.

He retained the fierce loyalty of business and civic leaders, but alienated teachers and parents. His flubs of key technology projects made his position untenable.

Blume reports that former superintendent Ramon Cortines is likely to be the interim superintendent. Cortines, 82, has served twice before as leader of the L.A. Schools.

Michael Janofsky reports in LA School Report that John Deasy may step down as early as tomorrow as Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools. Read here for the details. 

Talk about cheek! Officials in Los Angeles created dysfunction at Jefferson High School by installing a computer system that screwed up student schedules, then blamed the teachers!

A judge ordered Superintendent John Deasy to fix the problems he had created at Jefferson, and Deasy hailed the decision as a victory for the students. This is Wonderland, when the people in charge wash their hands of all responsibility. And blame teachers.

Here is the best comment on the article:

Offred Gillead on October 14, 2014 8:32 am at 8:32 am said:
Normally I would come up with some sort of response but…

–but, I’m stumped.

Truly nothing is coming to me.

I’m just typing because I’m drawing a blank.

How does one respond to this?

Jefferson as a plane crash. That’s the analogy? A confluence of factors.

Okay. Well what ISN’T a plane crash? Name a single thing in the existence of the universe that ISN’T a confluence of factors?

Some days you just want to throw in the towel as a teacher when you see who is the pilot of this plane. I get on a plane and there’s John Deasy and Tommy Chang in the cockpit?

Sorry. Stewardess! I don’t want another seat! I want another airline! I want the FAA to be on it and not take the word of the drunken pilots!

Board of Ed!

Mayday! Mayday!

What will it take for you to see us circling helplessly? A Ukrainian Ground-to-air missile? Our pilots went to some Florida flight school (paid for by Eli Broad) and seem determined to ram this school system into some buildings and THEN blame the passengers! Didn’t the White House get the briefing earlier? Oh good God. The briefing went to Arne Duncan.

Teachers! Students! Parents!

IPads are where our parachutes should be.

The parent blogger who calls herself Red Queen in L.A. has written what must be the ultimate indictment of the troubled reign of John Deasy.

How has he survived in his job despite his any transgressions against students, teachers, and the district? Deasy enjoys the patronage of Eli Broad, who rules Los Angeles, and can count on the automatic support of a galaxy of Gates-funded organizations, like United Way and Educators4Excellence. They will demonstrate, they will demand, they will champion Deasy no matter what parents or teachers say.

It is hard to see how Deasy can survive in light of his long record of thumbing his nose at the school board he works for. At some point, they either fire or they should quit.

John Deasy has gone on a tour of South Korea, to learn about how the students in that nation get such high test scores. Perhaps he will learn of the pressure to succeed, the high cost of after-school tutoring, the suicide rate among teens, and other problems that seem to come with demanding that children conform to the state’s desire for test scores.

 

But amazingly, in his absence, the Los Angeles Times–which has reliably cheered on his every move and excused his every failure–published multiple stories critical of the superintendent.

 

Here is columnist Sandy Banks, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, blasting Deasy for his failures at Jefferson High School.

 

She writes:

 

John Deasy notched what he considers a win this week, when an Oakland judge ordered state education officials to rescue students trapped in chaos and dysfunction at Jefferson High in South Los Angeles.

 

The Los Angeles Unified superintendent called the ruling a “victory for youth in challenging circumstances.”

 

What Deasy didn’t say is that those circumstances have been made considerably more challenging by his inaction and his district’s ineptitude.

 

Jefferson was thrown into turmoil in August by the failure of a new computerized system the district relied upon to schedule the school’s 1,500 students. Hundreds of students have gone without schedules, been assigned to courses they’ve already taken or been locked out of classes they need for graduation.

 

Eight weeks into the semester, their schedules are loaded with space-fillers — periods labeled Service, Adult Class or Home, that offer no instruction and waste the time of teenagers already at risk of falling academically behind.

 

Those “content-less” classes are the target of a Northern California lawsuit alleging the state has ignored its obligation to ensure that all students have access to an adequate education.

 

Jefferson became a focal point because its troubles illustrate the issues at stake: Students hanging out in the auditorium or performing clerical tasks, or simply being assigned to go home because their schools don’t have the will, the resources or the leadership to engage and educate them.

 

“We have kids at Jefferson with four of those classes in a day,” said Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel, the pro bono law firm that, along with the ACLU, is asking state officials to correct conditions that deprive the students of their constitutional right to an adequate education.

 

The case won’t be resolved for months, but after hearing the stories of students, counselors and teachers at Jefferson, Judge George Hernandez deemed the school’s problems so outrageous, he ordered immediate fixes — and laid the blame squarely on Los Angeles Unified officials.

 

“There is no evidence of any organized effort to help those students,” Hernandez’s ruling declared. Deasy “expresses appropriate outrage,” but doesn’t seem to have done anything “to remedy this shocking loss of instructional time.”

 

So Deasy was celebrating the outcome of a case that criticized his own ineptitude and mismanagement.

 

Karin Klein, the Times’ education editorialist, sounds as though she is fed up with his unending parade of excuses for his own inaction. In a column titled “Definition of Strange: John Deasy Lauds Ruling Confirming His Failures,” she writes:

 

Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy weighed in on behalf of a lawsuit against the state, contending rightly that students were unconstitutionally assigned to do-nothing classes instead of the academic courses they needed. His action would be wholly appropriate if the state ran the schools where this was happening. But as it happens Deasy runs those schools. Or at least, he was supposed to.

 

“I can’t think of a better gift to give this school district than to expose this indefensible practice,” he said in a declaration in support of the lawsuit.

 

By indefensible practice, was he referring to his not having taken concrete steps to resolve the problem? Was this an admission of incompetence? A request for the state to take over schools that he and the school board could not manage properly?
I called Deasy to ask these questions last week before a judge ruled that the state of California had to step in and get the situation ironed out at Jefferson High School. A combination of a shortage of teachers and the fouled-up student tracking and scheduling system that Deasy oversaw had led to an educational crisis.

 

Deasy’s responses during our conversation covered a range of rationales. The problem was the school board — even though he conceded he hadn’t raised this with the board, offered suggestions to them or asked for guidance. But he was concerned that they would not do what was needed to fix the problem. Maybe he’s right, but it seems to me that not talking to them is a guaranteed way to make sure they don’t fix the problem.

 

It was local autonomy for schools that was to blame, he said, even though Deasy is one of the biggest proponents of that autonomy.

 

It was lack of funding, even though the district got a big increase in funding this year but chose to spend the money on other items. (No, not iPads — bond money cannot be used to increase the number of teachers.)

 

Of course the additional funding doesn’t restore the schools to pre-recession levels. Things are still far too tight. But the district beefed up many other programs while leaving students in an untenable predicament at various high schools, not just Jefferson. It’s not that the district spent money on unimportant things. But there is simply nothing more basic than teaching students. Teaching them, not assigning them to sit in the auditorium or worse yet, go home for a period or two.

 

Deasy better hurry home from South Korea. His excuses are wearing thin, even with his usual supporters.

 

 

 

 

In an earlier post, I referred to the long-running saga in Los Angeles as a soap opera.

Well, friends, it is time for another installment.

Howard Blume writes in the Los Angeles Times that Superintendent John Deasy has joined litigation against the state that puts him at odds with the board that he works for. This is a situation that Deasy relishes.

Blume writes:

“The goal of the litigation is to compel the state to eliminate non-academic periods that have hindered students from fulfilling graduation and college requirements. Those periods include “service classes,” which involve answering the phones and running errands, and “home periods,” during which unsupervised students are allowed to leave campus.

“The ‘classes’ are not designed to deliver real instruction or learning opportunities to students, but rather are no more than fillers to plug gaps where no genuine courses are readily available,” Deasy wrote. He asked the judge in the case to halt these “outrageous” practices at L.A. Unified and other districts. “I can’t think of a better gift to give this school district than to expose this indefensible practice that is antithetical to learning.”

“In an interview with The Times on Monday, Deasy called his declaration a matter of conscience.

“Although it is not unusual for superintendents to support student causes, Deasy has aligned himself with critics of the district he runs — on matters that he has the power to influence.

“I hope our superintendent would remedy untenable situations within his direct control immediately,” said school board member Monica Ratliff.

“A senior state official also questioned why Deasy didn’t remedy the problem on his own campuses.

“It certainly is befuddling that he would encourage the state to fix a problem that is within his authority to fix,” said Richard Zeiger, the state’s chief deputy schools superintendent. “If he doesn’t like these classes, he doesn’t have to have them. He and the school board can work this out.”

The board is supposed to evaluate Deasy’s job performance by October 21. Deasy seems to be picking a fight with the board or trying to demonstrate yet again that he is not accountable to the board. Whenever Deasy thumbs his nose at the board, he says he is doing it to defend the civil rights of students, implying that he cares more about students than the board does.

Blume writes:

“The superintendent has talked of possibly leaving the job; a majority of board members voted in closed session last week to begin negotiations over a possible departure agreement.

“An ongoing point of dispute is whether Deasy follows the direction of the board — an issue that also came up this year in a lawsuit over teacher job protections. Deasy became a star witness in that litigation, which eventually overturned laws that made it more difficult to fire teachers. Deasy never sought board guidance or assent for his participation. He characterized his involvement as fighting on behalf of student civil rights…..

“He’s entitled to his opinions,” said school board member George McKenna. “But if he testifies and it doesn’t represent the board, it would be a concern. Any superintendent should be working on behalf of the district and be working at the direction of the board.”

“McKenna, a former principal, said that in certain situations, for example, a student who works in the school’s office can learn responsibility and skills that could help land a job. Deasy’s declaration lacked that nuance, McKenna said.”

If you believe in miracles, clap your hands!

 

With Superintendent John Deasy under pressure because of the accumulation of his bad decisions, the district just announced that high school graduation rates increased by a stunning 12% in only one year! Clap your hands!

 

While citizens are demanding Deasy’s resignation, and the city’s elites defend him because he gets results, even if teachers and parents don’t like him, Deasy announced that the graduation rate had soared to an amazing 77% (clap your hands).

 

Howard Blume writes a cautionary note:

 

But the good news comes with a substantial caveat. The rate is calculated based on students enrolled in comprehensive high schools, and it leaves out students who transfer to alternative programs — which frequently include those most at risk of dropping out.

For example, Bernstein Senior High in Hollywood had a graduation rate of 62%; Alonzo, the “option” school on the corner of that property, had a graduation rate of 5.2%. Santee Education Complex, south of downtown, had a rate of 68%; Kahlo High School, the alternative campus on its perimeter, had a rate of 10%.

Once the alternative campuses are factored in, L.A. Unified’s rate drops to 67% — much less impressive but still surpassing what the district has accomplished in recent history. The previous year’s rate of 65% also did not include students in such programs.

In the past, graduation rates have been subject to extreme manipulation, although that is less likely under current methods of record-keeping.

“We continue to move closer to our goal,” Deasy said. “The results keep getting better and better.”

The statewide graduation rate is 80% for 2012-13, the most recent year available.

 

The one thing we have noticed in recent years is that the more data matter, the more data are manipulated to produce the necessary results. That is known as Campbell’s Law.

 

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” 

 

 

 

 

Ever since it became clear that Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy was in a whole lot of trouble and might be held accountable for his actions, the Los Angeles Times has run an editorial daily in support of him. So what if he made mistakes, the Times’ editorialists say, he is indispensable. He has a sense of urgency! He can’t wait! So what if he gave the appearance of colluding with Apple and Pearson to give them a contract for iPads and software that would cost the district $1.3 billion? So what if he raided the bond fund intended for school construction and repairs to buy those IPads? So what if he laid off arts teachers and librarians? How dare the elected school board even think of telling him what to do! He is the superintendent! Hands off, you elected troublemakers!

Robert Skeels here explains why the Los Angeles Times is gaga for Deasy. Tip: It is not about the kids.

Los Angeles’ school politics is beginning to sound like a soap opera. Tune in next week to see if long-suffering Superintendent John Deasy, much admired by billionaire Eli Broad, survives yet another unjust attack at the hands of the brutes who disapprove of the $1.3 billion iPad fiasco, the bungled computer mess, the other snafus unjustly laid at the feet of a man guilty only of caring too much. Forget the emails showing possible collusion between Deasy and Apple, Deasy and Pearson. What matters details like this when a great man is in our midst, loved and appreciated most by those too rich to patronize the schools he oversees. Never forget: every organization funded by Bill Gates adores this man: think Educators 4 Excellence; think United Way of Los Angeles.

It was not enough that the LA Times’ editorial writer Karin Klein paid him tribute and chastised the LAUSD for seeking to hold him accountable: how dare they! Now her boss Jim Newton weighs in with another full-throated defense of the Indispensable Man. Okay, says Newton, so his handling of the $1.3 billion deal for the iPads was “admittedly sloppy.” Well, “sloppy” is one way to characterize the friendly negotiations between Deasy and Apple. Others might have less kindly words. Like, why did LA have to buy an obsolete model at a higher than retail price? Why did Deasy think that buying iPads mattered more than repairing schools, which the voters wanted in the first place? What part of 25-year construction bond approved by the electorate did Deasy misunderstand?

Do read Jim Newton’s apologia for Deasy. All of his errors on blamed on the Board, for daring to expect accountability, and on the union for…. for being the union, always a ready scapegoat for the editorial board of the L.A. Times, even for matters in which the u ion had no role.

Stay tuned. This is the soap opera that ends in tragedy or never ends at all.

But also read this letter to the editor, which I post in full, in case it gets deleted:

Offred Gillead on September 29, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am said:
We have officially entered into a super bizzaro, gothic world with Jim Newton.

With his Emily Bronte opening: “There’s a storm cloud gathering over Los Angeles politics these days” before moving into gaunt, haunted purple poignancy, “It’s taking a toll on the superintendent. I visited him in his office last week…he looked drawn. Already slight, he’s lost weight.”

Deasy’s rich, cultish supporters, have always given us a variation of THE MARTYRDOM OF JOHN DEASY. I tingle over Newton’s words like “have been dragged across these coals” and “put through the local grinder”.

Okay. I get it.

I’m really reading 50 SHADES OF DEASY, a story that makes Deasy’s backers swoon.

Newton says, “Deasy has made matters worse by some admittedly sloppy handling of a deal intended to put iPads in the hands of students.” Really? “Admittedly?” When did Deasy EVER admit to this?

Newton tells us, “So, what’s not to like? By his own admission, Deasy can be bullheaded and impatient.”

Ana Steele could understand that. She might say, like Newton, “No one is suggesting he did anything for personal gain, but his trademark impatience may have left him…vulnerable.”

Sensitive and obsessively-driven! Like Moses! Dr. Frankenstein! Ahab! Hamlet! Dr. Strangelove!

Deasy confides, “‘I could have done a thousand things better,’ he conceded during our conversation.”

Really? How about naming ONE thing, Doc?

In Deasy’s perverse brain, his biggest fault is that he CARES TOO MUCH. He is TOO MUCH of a perfectionist. His only goal is to lift children out of poverty and has to put up with hundreds who stand in his way.

“He’s quick to correct and sometimes short-tempered….Even Deasy’s critics acknowledge that he is a powerful intellect and a determined education reformer.”

Karl Rove also breathlessly informed us that George Bush was the smartest person he ever met and, famously, “The Decider”.

I don’t know what Christian Grey non-disclosure contract might have gotten signed between the two, but the Op-Ed hints: “But here’s the perversity of punishing Deasy for aggressiveness…”

Sizzle!

Do we really need to read the whole trilogy to find out where this story ends? I hope the BOE has the good taste to call this series quits.

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