Archives for the month of: February, 2015

The Education Writers Association held a panel discussion on the future of the Common Core. The panel included strong advocates for the controversial standards but no equally strong critic.

Is EWA afraid of a genuine debate?

“DENVER, Colorado – The Common Core needs to avoid an internet catastrophe with its new tests for the country to embrace the new multi-state education standards, a panel of experts agreed Thursday,

“It will need to survive the release of low test scores in late summer, just as Republican Presidential debates begin.

“And it will have to overcome ongoing “misinformation” – as supporters call it – before the public will fully accept it.”

Very likely there was no discussion of the millions of dollars spent by the Gates Foundation to sell the standards. Some of those millions went to EWA panelists.

It would not have been difficult to find a credible critic, like Anthony Cody, Carol Burris, Stephen Krashen, or other qualified voices.

Denny Taylor is Professor Emerita of Literacy Studies at Hofstra University. She has won many awards for her writing about literacy and literature. She is also the founder and CEO of Garn Press, which published the book I am reviewing (and also published Anthony Cody’s The Educator and the Oligarch).


Save Our Children, Save Our School, Pearson Broke the Golden Rule is a political satire about the current education “reform” movement. It takes place in an imaginary “Cafe Griensteidl” in New York City, at 72nd Street and Broadway, where the author and a friend meet for coffee. In this comedy, the leading players in the “reform” movement appear at the cafe and get into discussion or debate with the author. Nine powerful men happen to be in the cafe, including Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein, and Michael Barber (of Pearson). They banter with the author and her friend. She makes clear that these nine powerful men know nothing about education yet are taking control of the American public school system.


The men leave, and in the last “Act” of the book, twelve eminent female scholars (living and dead) talk about what is happening and the need to resist. The chapter is headed by this statement: “In which twelve venerable women scholars with more than 500 years of teaching experience refuse to capitulate to the demands made by nine rich men who have no teaching qualifications or teaching experience.” Hannah Arendt, Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Adrienne Rich, Yetta Goodman, Toni Morrison, and more are there. As the wise women speak, people come into the cafe and make YouTube videos, Tweet, or just listen. Yetta begins to rap. Horns honk. Traffic jams form at the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway. The women at the table clap along with Yetta’s rapping. The women talk about how to stop the corporate takeover of U.S. education.


Denny Taylor, sitting at the table with the great women, says, “Children have a right to a free and public education. For the pursuit of human knowledge and understanding that is free of corporate greed.”


“We should not have to ask permission for teachers to teach in developmentally appropriate ways that inspire and excite, and enhance our children’s incredible capacity to learn–


“–for the sheer joyfulness of their lives and for their lightness of being.”


The great women agree: We are and always will be defenders of every child’s right to a childhood free of despots and demons, except those they imagine when playing with friends….”


The author says, “Dump Pearson….Barber and Pearson are taking our children in the wrong direction,” she says. “His Whole System of Global Education Revolution is a global social catastrophe, a total system failure.”


Others ask how to stop this recklessness. The author responds, “The madness will stop if we refuse to participate. The struggle for democracy is always ground up….Make it a crime for oligarchs to interfere with democratic social systems. It’s vote tampering on a national scale.” She adds, referring to Bill Gates, “He’s violating the rights of fifty million children, jeopardizing their future. Send him to jail.”


“Tell Gates we choose decency and democracy and not the indecency of his oligarchy. He does not have the power to dictate how our children are taught in public schools.


“Tell him we refuse to participate in his Common Core experiments. Ban the use of galvanic skin devices in affective computing trials that he’s funded.


“Tell him to stop wasting his money. To spend it for the Common Good. Build new public schools. Create parks in poor urban neighborhoods. Make sure there are health centers. Medical care for everyone in the community.


“Tell him to put his money into Earth-friendly low-income housing.


“Libraries. Media centers.


“Work with local leaders. Make sure they’re not exploited…


“Pearson could too. Tell Barber we take back our independence. That US public schools are no longer under Pearson’s colonial rule.”


The book is funny, learned, and zany. If you want to order it, go to

A reader suggests a massive way to resist standardized testing:

“Diane and all my favorite people at this blog,

“I am not sure are where to post this but today I had an idea. I have been teaching in a MD public high school for many years. I have been a loyal reader of this blog for two years but never commented before. Today at an excruciating, propaganda filled faculty meeting at my school, we were informed of how for three weeks in March our school would stop functioning as a school and instead become a branch of Pearson Education as we administer the PARCC. Seriously, no normal instruction for weeks. Next when someone had the gumption to ask about the OPT OUT movement, we were told that it was against MD state law to opt out and if asked, tell parents and students exactly that.

“Thus, my idea. Why not start a nationwide movement of civil disobedience. For all multiple choice questions, students could simply bubble ‘A’. That one simple act performed over and over by hundreds of thousands nationwide would represent a powerful statement.
I know that this may be more doable for middle and high school students who are in tune with social movements and who do not have to pass a test to be promoted to the next grade. But seriously, why not. Let’s call it the BUBBLE ‘A’ movement. it will render all tests invalid and show that this idea of using students and teachers for nefarious, profit making schemes is unacceptable and immoral. It must stop. Now!


A new poll by Siena College finds that public supports teachers, not Cuomo.

“Consider what voters said when asked about what hinders education in New York: Little parental involvement (37 percent), not enough money in schools (18 percent), the effects of poverty (17 percent), ineffective state oversight (12 percent), poor quality teachers (10 percent).”

The public backs teachers by 48-36.

High school students in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, have organized a student union to oppose PARCC. it is called the Blono Student Union.

In a statement, these super-smart students said:

PARCC Refusal Campaign

Refusing the PARCC

An effective way to resist standardized testing is to simply not participate in it; refusing state tests is a common, legal strategy used all over the nation. Students and parents around the country are becoming more and more fed up with the excessive testing in our public schools, causing a massive opt-out/refusal movement.

Illinois State Board of Education does not explicitly recognize opt-outs; however, students have the right to refuse to take state tests in Illinois. Parents are encouraged to notify the principal and superintendent in writing that their child will be refusing. To send a notice of refusal for your child, see our letter template here.

Illinois State Board of Education recognizes that students may refuse testing. Refusing will have no negative academic consequences for students, and despite what ISBE says, will not result in loss of funding. See our full explanation of refusal rights and implications here.

What Is The PARCC Test?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test is the new Common Core standardized test that will be used for state level accountability measures. This test will replace the ISAT for elementary schools and PSAE for high schools. This year (spring 2015) is the first time the PARCC is being administered. In Unit 5, the PARCC will be administered to students in grades 3-8 and high school students that are enrolled in English II and Geometry (or have previously taken geometry). PARCC is expected to take up just under double the amount of time the ISAT and PSAE assessments took respectively. See full testing times here. Testing dates will be sometime between March 9 to April 3, 2015 and April 27 to May 22, 2015.

In future years, the PARCC is intended to be a state graduation requirement for 11 graders and is intended to be available to use for college entrance, in addition to being administered in elementary/junior high. These policies are not in place yet. 2015 is a baseline year, so the PARCC will have no consequences for schools or students.

Why Are We Against It?

Since No Child Left Behind was passed, testing in schools has become overused and overemphasized. Excessive testing takes away from classroom time for authentic teaching and learning. Especially in elementary schools, test preparation takes even more away from instructional time. This leads to loss of curiosity and creativity. Emphasis on these tests also leads to a narrowed curriculum, taking focus away from untested subjects.

We reject the use of test scores to dictate the success of schools, students, and teachers. This only induces competition between schools through the means of a less rigorous learning experience for students. These scores are not representative of a student’s growth, as they only test a narrow set of skills. Also, some students get anxiety upon taking these tests, and some students are just better test takers. Standardized testing primarily measures a district’s socio-economic characteristics; wealthier districts, with access to more resources, score higher on tests. Attaching high stakes to these tests only perpetuates inequity.

PARCC has shown to be poorly designed and developmentally inappropriate for each grade level. Also, administration of the PARCC is extremely costly. With the abundant amount of technology needed, some districts in Illinois are struggling to finance the administration of the PARCC. A week of PARCC testing means a prolonged use of schools’ resources; computer labs will be closed off for testing and not available to any student that needs to use them, which is especially problematic in the high schools. And since the test is highly dependent on computer skills, some students are left at a disadvantage.

More reliable and effective forms of alternative, performance-based assessment are available. Proponents claim that the PARCC allows to compare students around the nation; however, fourteen out of twenty-five states have already dropped the PARCC in the past year.

To read more about the flaws with the PARCC, click here.

Other Resistances to the PARCC

Parents and students around the country are refusing testing in record numbers. Specifically, people are taking action against the PARCC more than ever. There are only ten states left that are administering the PARCC; among them are increasingly large refusal/opt-out movements.

There is already widespread opposition to the PARCC in Illinois; Chicago public school district has expressed concern with administering the PARCC, over 40 superintendents in Illinois urged the state to delay administration of the PARCC, and one superintendent in Illinois even wrote a warning letter to parents and community members about the PARCC . Meanwhile, Chicago parents and students are actively organizing to refuse the PARCC. If more communities in Illinois organize together and speak up, we will not be ignored.

By uniting in opposition locally, we can add our voice to a nation full of teachers boycotting tests, parents opting their kids out, and students walking out of tests. We are in the midst of a wave of resistance to standardized testing in order to reclaim our public schools. Join the movement. Refuse the PARCC.

Refusal Rights

Students have the right to refuse state tests. Illinois State Board of Education acknowledges that students may refuse to participate in testing. ISBE provides a list of reasons for not testing for districts to use when stating why a student has not taken a state-required test (medically exempt, homebound, in jail, etc.) Code 15 on this list is refusal. It is state mandated that districts administer the PARCC, but there is no legal way that a school can force a student to test. For younger students and students with special needs, parents can notify the school of their child’s refusal to ensure that the student will be treated fairly and not compelled to test after refusal.

The district will not lose funding if a large amount of students refuse to test. This is a baseline year for PARCC testing (meaning the data will just be used to establish cut scores since this is the first year it is being administered), so ISBE has stated that there will be no consequences for schools or students this year. There will also be no federal penalties since students that refuse to test will be marked by code 15 of reasons for not testing; code 15 does not count against the school’s adequate yearly progress participation rate. No Child Left Behind requires that schools test 95% of their students in order to make adequate yearly process; however, Illinois is one of the forty one states that has a waiver from the US Department of Education that eliminates sanctions brought to schools that don’t make adequate yearly progress. There is also no federal or state law that requires penalties for schools or districts if parents/students opt out or refuse the test.

No student will be penalized for refusing to test. Students cannot be penalized for exercising their refusal rights. There is no basis for any state agent to take any action against parents’ and students’ explicit refusal, and/or take any action that causes the student emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against their refusal. Also, there are no academic consequences for refusing. PARCC has no effect on students’ grades, and it is not a state graduation requirement for high school students this year. Again, this is a baseline year, so there will be no consequences for students.

Send a Notice of Refusal

Notice of Refusal

Your Name:

Your Email:

Child’s Name:

Child’s School:


Dear Principal,

My child, [CHILD’S NAME], will be refusing to participate in PARCC testing this spring. I am fully aware of my child’s right to refuse state testing, and as my minor child’s legal representative, I am informing you that he/she will not be taking the PARCC this March and May.

I expect my child to be treated with kindness and respect upon this decision, and be allowed a meaningful learning opportunity, or be able to read or do other work as other students test. No state agent should harass, intimidate, or attempt to force my child to test after he/she has respectfully refused.

Please respect this decision and have your staff treat my child appropriately upon this notice of my child’s refusal.

The school should code my child’s test as Reason 15 for not testing (refusal) so that this refusal will not count against the school.

Thank you for your support,

[To read all the links, open the students’ statement.]

Governor Andrew Cuomo released a report which identified 178 “failing schools,” with more than half in Néw York City. His report was an implicit–if unintended–critique of mayoral control, since the schools in Néw York City have been under mayoral control since 2002.

Cuomo wants the state to take control of the schools he named and turn them over to private management organizations.

“The report aims to bolster Cuomo’s argument that the state should be allowed to seize control of the schools and hand them over to outside organizations. Cuomo’s takeover plan would allow “receivers” to restructure the low-ranked schools, overhaul their curriculums, and override labor agreements in order to fire “underperforming” teachers and administrators.

For another perspective, read Bruce Baker as he rips apart “Angry Andy’s” list of “failing schools,” most of which have been shortchanged by the state.

Baker writes:

“NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has released a report in which it identifies what it refers to in bold type on the cover as “Failing Schools.”
Report here:

“Presumably, these are the very schools on which Angy Andy would like to impose death penalties – or so he has opined in the past.

“The report identifies 17 districts in particular that are home to failing schools. The point of the report is to assert that the incompetent bureaucrats, high paid administrators and lazy teachers in these schools simply aren’t getting the job done and must be punished/relieved of their duties. Angry Andy has repeatedly vociferously asserted that he and his less rabid predecessors have poured obscene sums of funding into these districts for decades. Thus – it’s their fault – certainly not his, for why they stink!”

“I have addressed over and over again on this blog the plight of high need, specifically small city school districts under Governor Cuomo.

“On how New York State crafted a low-ball estimate of what districts needed to achieve adequate outcomes and then still completely failed to fund it.
On how New York State maintains one of the least equitable state school finance systems in the nation.

“On how New York State’s systemic, persistent underfunding of high need districts has led to significant increases of numbers of children attending school with excessively large class sizes.

“On how New York State officials crafted a completely bogus, racially and economically disparate school classification scheme in order to justify intervening in the very schools they have most deprived over time.

“I have also written reports on New York State’s underfunding of the school finance formula – a formula adopted to comply with prior court order in CFE v. State.

“Statewide Policy Brief with NYC Supplement: BBaker.NYPolicyBrief_NYC
50 Biggest Funding Gaps Supplement: 50 Biggest Aid Gaps 2013-14_15_FINAL

“Among my reports is one in which I identified the 50 districts with the biggest state aid shortfalls with respect to what the state itself says these districts require for providing a sound basic (constitutional standard) education. Districts across NY state have funding gaps for a variety of reasons, but I have shown in the past that it is generally districts with greater needs – high poverty concentrations & more children with limited English language proficiency, as well as more minority children – which tend to have larger funding gaps.

“I have also pointed out very recently on this blog that some high need upstate cities in NY have had persistently inequitable/inadequate funding for decades……

“Personally, even I was shocked to see the relationship between my 50 most underfunded districts list and Angry Andy’s 17 districts that suck.
NY State has over 650 school districts, many of which may be showing relatively low test scores for a variety of reasons, including & especially due to serving high concentrations of needy students.”

Los Angeles school board member Steve Zimmer supports fellow board member Bennett Kayser, who has been the target of vicious attacks by the charter industry. Kayser has also been endorsed by Board chairman Dr. Richard Vladovic.

Here is Bennett’s website:

Here is how to volunteer to help:

By Steve Zimmer

Exactly two years ago, The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) sent out a series of campaign hit pieces blaming me for the budget cuts that hit LAUSD during the great recession. They attacked me on every front they could with over three million dollars raised from the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee and Eli Broad. It was the ugliest, most expensive school board campaign in the history of the nation. We thought it couldn’t get any worse.

Then, last summer CCSA came after Dr. George McKenna with a vengeance. With lies, filth and distortion they tried to mar the career of one of the most beloved educators ever to teach and lead schools in South Los Angeles. The effort failed and McKenna won handily. We thought we had seen the worst.

We were wrong.

In the current School Board election campaign the Charter Schools Association has turned their sights on my colleague Bennett Kayser. In an onslaught of mail, radio and TV commercials, CCSA has gone completely off the rails in their effort to vilify Bennett Kayser. The first mailer attacks Kayser as a racist ( despite the fact that he has a 100% voting record on every major district transformation supported by civil rights groups. They claim he protected child molesters ( when the entire Board has voted to dismiss every single teacher accused of crimes against children . The most disgusting TV advertisement ( directly mocks and mimics his public fight against Parkinson’s.

We have never, ever seen attacks like these in political campaigns.

Bennett Kayser is a good man. His entire adult life has been devoted to public service. And he is an outstanding policy maker. He has been a leading advocate on the Board in support of Early Childhood Education, Adult Education, Arts Education and Immigrant Rights. His courage in his fight against Parkinson’s has been a ray of hope to families fighting neurological diseases.

So why is the Charter Schools Association so hell bent on destroying this man?

One reason and one reason only: he votes against charter schools. Not all charter schools. But most. He has many explanations for this including that charter schools do not serve an equitable number of special education students.

It is fair to disagree with Kayser. In a tough campaign it is fair to attack him for voting against charters. But this is not what the Charter Schools Association is doing.

CCSA seeks to take over the Board of Education by any means necessary. The Association believes in a private sector, corporate model for privatizing our public schools. If CCSA’s candidate, Ref Rodriguez, wins on March 3rd, CCSA will gain control of the LAUSD Board. This will mean an even greater expansion of charter schools and a much greater number of colocations on district campuses, without concern for the financial stability of our district or its impact on district students.

But that’s not the most important reason we should stand against what CCSA is doing.

We should stand against this because it is morally and ethically wrong. By equating voting against a charter school to racism, CCSA cheapens the deep struggles that still face our city and our nation. The crimes against children in school districts are both heinous acts and moral outrages. But to use the suffering of children and families as a campaign issue is the lowest form of political exploitation I have ever seen.

The most shocking attack is the attack on Mr. Kayser’s disability. I have seen very closely how difficult Bennett’s struggle against Parkinson’s is. It is a disease that affects his mobility, physical stability and his speech. But Parkinson’s does not affect Bennett Kayser cognitively nor does it impair his conscience. Bennett Kayser is absolutely fit to serve a second term on the school board. Bennett talks openly about Parkinson’s and uses his profile to raise awareness and allay fears about his disease. His courage to face down illness and to battle publicly should be celebrated not derided.

Do not let the Charter School Association get away with this. They are not only destroying a man; they are degrading our entire electoral process. This is one of those moments when if you do not directly stand against this, you are complicit.

This is especially true for every charter school that is a member of CCSA. If you think it is wrong to dehumanize a person, call upon the leadership of the organization that represents your schools to take these ads down.

Do not let Ref Rodriguez get away with this.

The candidate will tell you he has nothing to do with this. But when a candidate directly or indirectly accepts the dehumanization of his or her opponent it raises serious questions about their character. The willingness to view those who disagree with you as less than human is what actually raises questions about one’s fitness to serve. I have grave concerns that the ethical recklessness that has driven this campaign will become the operational norm of the Board of Education if CCSA is successful in taking control.

Finally, it is a time to lead. We cannot let Bennett Kayser stand alone.

I call on all of our elected leadership and community leadership to stand against the moral low bar of this campaign. If we allow the public tar and feathering of those who follow their conscience to become an acceptable norm, we are endangering the very republic itself; we are rupturing the fibers of our social contract. Stand up and call on CCSA to take down its commercials and apologize for its mailers ( Stand next to the courageous charters to withdraw their membership from CCSA.

And most importantly, let us all commit to re-focusing our attention on children, their families and their school communities. While we argue and hurt one another their dreams languish. It is these dreams, after all, to which we are all accountable.

Daniel Tanner is a professor emeritus at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. He has long been one of the leaders in the curriculum field.

In this article, he notes that many of our policymakers have come to believe in the magical powers of standardized testing, especially when high-stakes are attached to them. He notes with disappointment that there is no difference between George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top program. Neither has succeeded, he says, and neither will ever succeed. He explains patiently that tests can’t cure poverty, nor can they close achievement gaps rooted in poverty. Only direct action to address poverty can cure poverty.

Did you know that charter authorizers in many states are paid a fee for every student who enrolls in a charter they oversee? Did you know this fee removes any incentive to demand accountability?

This article shows how fraught with self-dealing, conflicts, and indifference many of these relationships between authorizers and charters are. It is a wild, wild world out there.

Consider this:

“Nestled in the woods of central Minnesota, near a large lake, is a nature sanctuary called the Audubon Center of the North Woods. The nonprofit rehabilitates birds. It hosts retreats and conferences. It’s home to a North American porcupine named Spike as well as several birds of prey, frogs, and snakes used to educate the center’s visitors.

“It’s also Minnesota’s largest regulator of charter schools, overseeing 32 of them.. ”

“Many of these gatekeepers are woefully inexperienced, under-resourced, confused about their mission or even compromised by conflicts of interest. And while some charter schools are overseen by state education agencies or school districts, others are regulated by entities for which overseeing charters is a side job, such as private colleges and nonprofits like the Audubon wildlife rehabilitation center…..”

“In 2010, an investigation by the Philadelphia Controller’s Office found lavish executive salaries, conflicts of interest and other problems at more than a dozen charter schools, and it faulted the authorizer – the School District of Philadelphia’s charter school office – for “complete and total failure” to monitor schools. In 2013, more than a dozen Ohio charter schools that had gained approval from various authorizers received state funding and then either collapsed in short order or never opened at all. [That hasn’t stopped Philadelphia from opening more charters.]

“Considerable state funds were lost and many lives impacted because of these failures,” the Ohio Department of Education wrote in a scathing letter last year to Ohio’s charter-school regulators. The agency wrote that some authorizers “lacked not only the appropriate processes, but more importantly, the commitment of mission, expertise and resources needed to be effective….

“It’s not just Trine. In the esoteric world of charter authorizing, there’s long been confusion and tension over the basic role of authorizers. Are they charter-school watchdogs, or are they there to provide support?

“In Ohio, many charter authorizers fall on the “support” end of the spectrum. Some go so far that they sell “support services” – back-office services, for instance, or even professional development – to the very schools they regulate. It’s a way for these groups to make additional revenue on top of the fees they’re allowed to charge the schools.”

I am happy to endorse Scott Schmerelson for the LAUSD school board. He is an experienced educator who worked for 35 years. He turned around a troubled middle school. He knows what schools and students need. He would make a great school board member.


“I have been a school site teacher, counselor and administrator for the past 35 years. I chose to always remain at the school site to work with students, parents and staff on a personal basis. I began my teaching career as a Spanish teacher with the School District of Philadelphia for 5 years and came to the Los Angeles Unified School District to continue as a Spanish teacher, English as a Second Language teacher, Secondary School Counselor, Assistant Principal of Secondary Counseling Services, Assistant Principal and Principal.

“I began my LAUSD career with a 12 year stay at Virgil Middle School in the Mid City area as a teacher, school counselor and Assistant Principal of Secondary Counseling Services. I later became an Assistant Principal at Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles for 5 years and then became Principal at Lawrence Middle School in Chatsworth for 5 years and retired as Principal of Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Middle School in South Los Angeles for 11 years.

“I have been treasurer of the Middle Schools Principals’ Association and currently I am treasurer of the Cuban-American Teachers’ Association. I am a member of the Association of California School Administrators. I served a two year term as President of Region 16 and I currently am the Executive Director of Region 16. Region 16 encompasses the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.

“I consider my most effective endeavor was in accepting the offer to transfer from Lawrence Middle School to Mount Vernon Middle School in order to try to prevent the school from a state take-over due to a history of poor test scores, low morale and a decaying physical plant. The school was successful in avoiding a state take-over. The test scores, the physical plant and teacher-student-parent morale continued to significantly improve.

“I was also elected as Secondary Director of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. My goal was to assure all members that their rights would be protected. I believed that the strength of AALA is in all members participating in organization meetings. Our organizational meetings enabled fellow administrators from across the district to meet and share best practices. Some Local Districts do not thoroughly share operational issues at Principals’ meetings which are vital to the smooth functioning of our schools. Organizational meetings, on the other hand, present a balance of instructional and operational issues.

“I consider myself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I believe all students should receive the best education possible and that all school should have the necessary funding to make the students successful. The school is where all available funding should be directed. As employees of LAUSD we all work for the children of the District. Every employee from the Superintendent down should focus on the school site when making fiscal decisions; that is where every available dollar should be directed. As a board member, will absolutely only use bond funding for its intended purpose. The last bond issue was to repair and upgrade our schools. That was a sacred trust between the voters and the District. You may be assured that as Board member I would follow the will of the people and see that the money is used as it was intended

Scott Schmerelson
Age: 63
Eduction: Master of Science in education, school administration, Cal State L.A.
Political experience: first run for public office
Website:, also

Candidate Scott Schmerelson worked in LAUSD schools for 33 years and carries the endorsements of LAUSD’s administrators union, Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, as well as the California School Employees Association, which represents clerical workers, teachers aids and other classified positions.

And he’s no stranger to troubled schools. When LAUSD wanted to prevent a state takeover of Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School when it was Mount Vernon Middle School, Schmerelson was called in. During his five years as principal, he improved test scores, conditions and morale at the troubled Mid-City campus, according to his website.

Schmerelson wants to increase local control by sending more decision-making power to school site councils, which are campus-based bodies of administrators, teachers and parents. He also wants teachers to evaluate the performance of their peers, as opposed to administrators, and create mentoring systems to support underperforming educators.

“The average teacher has close to 10 years’ experience right now. Why in the world would we move to get rid of struggling teachers without doing everything we can to help them improve instruction,” Schmerelson states on his website.