Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
20 October 2014
(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Once again, Pearson is up to their eyeballs in another expensive, and unproven Common Core failure this time in Los Angeles, America’s second largest school district. The idea was to put a laptop or tablet in the hands of every student, a sort of blind faith that giving each kid a computer would somehow turbocharge learning. This program provoked a war between the Teacher’s Union that never wants change and a Superintendent who wants change, but seemingly without purpose. Pearson who is involved with everything associated with Common Core and Apple were to have collaborated. Their contract was cancelled because the criticism about the program and the bidding process. When will public officials stop wasting money on untested educational theories and return to teaching the fundamentals)?
By Caroline Porter Wall Street Journal
Facing criticism over the rollout of an ambitious plan to put a personal computing device in the hands of every student, Superintendent John Deasy stepped down Thursday from his post with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest.
The news comes amid intense pressure on the nation’s schools to improve performance and prepare students to compete in an increasingly global economy.
Mr. Deasy pushed an agenda of change, but clashed regularly with the teachers union and the school board. His handling of a roughly $1 billion technology program—dubbed the Common Core Technology Project, intended to give each student a laptop or tablet computer—was a key point of contention.
“While the district’s investigation into the Common Core Technology Project has not concluded, the board wishes to state that at this time, it does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts,” said a joint statement from the board and Mr. Deasy.
During his 3½-year tenure, Mr. Deasy is credited with improving test scores and increasing graduation rates for the district, which serves more than 640,000 students.
Mr. Deasy, a 53-year-old former official at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, faced a $142 million deficit when he took the job. He pressed for a new teacher evaluation system, as well as changes to instruction and filing systems.
In April 2013, a majority of voting teachers in the Los Angeles teachers union gave Mr. Deasy a no-confidence vote. Later that year, the union put out a release regarding reports of his possible resignation titled, “It’s about time.”
On Thursday, United Teachers Los Angeles called Mr. Deasy’s resignation a sign of a fresh chapter in the debate about how to improve the schools and urged a thoughtful and public search for his replacement. “It is no secret that UTLA and Deasy have clashed during his tenure, but now is the time to look to the future,” the union said in a statement.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he looked forward to collaborating with the school board and the new superintendent, but also nodded to Mr. Deasy’s work with the district.
“I was in touch with John Deasy last night as I have been over the last month, and I want to thank him for his service to the students of Los Angeles,” Mr. Garcetti said in a statement.
School board member Steve Zimmer told a local radio show on Thursday that the board wanted a fresh start.
“We felt at this juncture it was the best thing to kind of start again in the process of building those kind of trusting relationships that can create the kind of cooperation we need,” Mr. Zimmer said.
Longtime education analyst Tom Vander Ark, who supports some of the innovations Mr. Deasy promoted, called the change in leadership a loss for Los Angeles, noting Mr. Deasy’s attention to equity and to the importance of sustained leadership in urban school districts.
“It’s a sad day for him and a sad day for Los Angeles,” he said. “It takes a decade of sustained effort by thoughtful leaders to make a difference and Mr. Deasy never had that shot.”
Superintendents’ tenure typically lasts about seven years, according to the American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization for more than 13,000 district leaders. The group notes, however, that for large school districts, superintendents’ stints are more likely to run about three years.
Mr. Deasy, whose annual salary was $350,000 this year, will stay with the district on special assignment until the end of the year.
The board appointed Ramon Cortines, 82 years old, to serve as interim superintendent. Mr. Cortines, who has worked in other big districts such as New York and San Francisco, is a former Los Angeles schools superintendent who stepped down in 2011 when Mr. Deasy took over. He begins his new role on Monday.