Morning Read: ACLU questions Jefferson improvement plan

ACLU: Jefferson High class scheduling improvement plan may be flawed
Attorneys for students who want LA Unified to fix class scheduling problems at Jefferson High say the district’s plan to cure the issues may fall short. KPCC


LA Unified gets school lunch makeover in test of locally sourced meals
Los Angeles Unified and 14 other school districts across California launched a pilot program Thursday that aims to bring the farm-to-table movement to school campuses. KPCC


The War on Teacher Tenure
It’s really difficult to fire a bad teacher. A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that. Time


New downtown L.A. boarding school aims to enhance culture, education
The American University Preparatory School is a new private boarding school at a luxury downtown hotel off Figueroa and Third streets. Los Angeles Times


Teacher tenure: Wrong target
Commentary: Eliminating teachers’ job security is not going to attract better educators — or do much to improve school quality. New York Daily News


Morning Read: No iPad software with bonds, says Cortines

Bonds should not pay for iPad curriculum, new L.A. Unified head says
Newly installed Supt. Ramon Cortines said he opposes using construction bond money to pay for curriculum on student computers. Los Angeles Times


California moving rapidly toward post-NCLB accountability
In one sentence, the president of the California State School board signaled the end of the old era of assessment and the dawn of another. Education Week


State seeks $140 million federal grant to expand preschool
CA officials are asking for $140 million in federal funds for subsidized preschool slots in communities where parents have a difficult time finding quality childcare. KPCC


Support for Prop. 2 inching toward 50 percent
Voter support for Proposition 2, a new version of a state budget rainy day fund, has increased from a month ago. EdSource


Art ed advocates put candidates on the spot
If you want to know where school board candidates stand on arts curriculum, there’s an online tool that can help – sort of. S&I Cabinet Report

Weingarten pleads for ‘collaboration’ in Deasy aftermath

Weingarten at AFT convention

AFT President Randi Weingarten Weingarten speaking at an AFT convention

In a speech today  in Buena Park, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, cited former LA Unified superintendent John Deasy as a failed example of school district management and argued for collaboration over fiat as the pathway to success in public education.

“Collaboration is the vehicle that creates trust. It’s the vehicle that enables risk. It’s the vehicle that enables shared responsibility; it’s the vehicle that has all our backs as opposed to throwing us under the bus, or under the bicycle,” she told an audience of union leaders and school and district administrators from across the country at the West Coast Labor Management Institute. “And it’s the vehicle that gives parents confidence in our public schools and our public institutions.”

While she insisted that collaboration “is not a silver bullet,” she described it as “a way to engender collective responsibility.”

Her plea was to both sides the labor-management relationship, insisting that the “top-down” ways of leaders like Deasy, Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee have failed to achieve their promised revolution in public education.

To her labor colleagues, she asked, “Is a manager or a principal really going to be willing to help us solve a problem after we’ve punched the living daylights out of them? Really? Who would ever want to solve a problem if that happens?”

A full transcript of her speech is available here.

Commentary: Is the L.A. teachers union tone deaf?

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Steve Lopez

It was back-to-school night in August. A time for new beginnings and high hopes at Thomas Starr King Middle School on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border.

Then came an awkward moment.

With new parents and students in the room, a teachers union rep got up on a soapbox to lay out the labor issues that could lead to a strike.

“He could not have been more tone deaf,” said Tomas O’Grady, a parent who was in the room. “What a stupid thing to do, for a new group of parents excited about this school.”

O’Grady said the speaker is “one of the most amazing teachers at King,” so out of kindness, O’Grady reined him in by suggesting this was not the time or place for a labor rally.

“In an attempt to protect him, I spoke up. Because if it was anyone else, I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t have been to protect him, but to reprimand him.”

Read the full commentary here.

Morning Read: Education Secretary meets with Cortines

Education Secretary Duncan talks tech with L.A. Unified’s Cortines
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a brief visit to Los Angeles on Tuesday, met with newly installed L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines. Los Angeles Times


Education secretary says time to debate preschool is over
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a conference of preschool advocates in L.A. Tuesday that the value of early education to young children is undisputed. KPCC


LGBT students face less harassment and fewer assaults in schools
Harassment and physical assault against LGBT students has been trending downward in the last six years, according to a report. Los Angeles Daily News


Officials debate Common Core amid standing-room-only crowd
About 200 people attended a standing-room-only debate in a special meeting by the Orange County Board of Education. Orange County Register


Nation’s wealthy places pour private money into public schools
Private groups are raising an increasing amount of money for public schools in wealthier communities, highlighting concerns about inequality. New York Times

LIVESTREAM coverage of today’s school board meeting

livestreamGrafix250Today, available by LIVESTREAM, the seven members of LA Unified school board will meet for the first time since the high-profile resignation of Superintendent John Deasy and the selection of Ray Cortines as interim replacement.

At 10:00 a.m., the board is set to hear an update on the troubled computer system, MiSiS, which, has caused management and scheduling snafus at several schools. The board is also set to vote on the terms and conditions of the employment contract for Cortines as well as hear public comment.

In a closed-door session to follow, of note is a late addition to the agenda of an item listed as ‘Public Employment, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Schools,’  a possible look at the employment Michelle King, who was passed over to serve as interim superintendent after she offered up her services to replace Deasy.  The agenda is here.

At 2:00 p.m., the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet to discuss the controversy over the district’s temporary suspension of the Parent Trigger Law will be discussed with a presentation by Gloria Romero, former California State Senator. The committee’s agenda is here.

At 3:15 p.m., the full board will return for a Special Session to report on the labor negotiations between the teachers union and the district. Agenda is here.

At 4:15 p.m. the Committee on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is set to meet to discuss, among other items, the Public School Choice Initiative, first launched in 2011 by then interim Superintendent Cortines. That agenda is  here.

Morning Read: Deasy is being paid but won’t advise Cortines

New LA schools superintendent won’t use district-paid Deasy as adviser
New L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said his improvement plans won’t involve the man who arguably knows the district best: resigned Superintendent John Deasy. KPCC


Deasy’s exit reflects other school battles across the U.S.
Union leaders say Deasy’s exit marked a repudiation of his policies. Los Angeles Times


On his first day, Cortines feels a ‘sense of urgency’ at L.A. Unified
Ramon C. Cortines’ first day in his latest tour at the helm of Los Angeles Unified started in a familiar fashion: early, with his first meeting at 7 a.m. Los Angeles Times


Gloria Romero: Parents trigger change at failing school
Commentary: Increasingly, parents are mobilizing to “trigger” change at failing schools. Orange County Register


A New Breed of Journalism
There’s been a recent and surprising revival of education reporting, a resurrection driven by a new breed of journalism. Education Next


NYC Chancellor Fariña Forges a New Era for Nation’s Largest District
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s victory last November was a clear indication that many voters sought a clean break from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature school policies. Education Week

City measure would extend LAUSD school board term to 5 1/2 years

Steve Zimmer takes the oath of office for the LA Unified school board

Steve Zimmer takes the oath of office for the LA Unified school board

The Los Angeles City Council is considering a measure that would extend the terms of the next school board election winners to 5 1/2 years, from the usual 4.

The longer terms would only apply to the next two school board voting cycles, bringing the board elections into even-numbered years that correspond with other city and state elections.

The change is part of the city’s effort to enhance voter turnout by consolidating elections. Because of periodic orphan scheduling, school board seats are sometimes filled with only a small percentage of registered voters determining the outcome.

In the case of George McKenna’s runoff victory over Alex Johnson for the District 1 seat in August, just 9 percent of the district’s voters cast ballots. In 2013, only 23 percent of voters citywide participated in the mayoral election.

Several steps remain before the new schedule goes into effect. The City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday to ask the City Attorney to write an ordinance that would appear on the March 3, 2015 ballot, effectively changing the City Charter.

Then the council would have to approve the wording, probably by the end of the month, for the measure to seek final approval from voters.

The first group of school board members to be affected would be McKenna, Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic, as well as their challengers, in a primary scheduled for the same day.

Members up for election in 2017 — Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff — would also win the longer terms.

The proposed measure might give any candidate pause, considering the additional time commitment for very small renumeration: For a board member who has no other full-time job, like McKenna, the annual salary is $45,637. For a member who also works elsewhere, like Galatzan, an assistant city attorney, the reward is $26,347 annually.

$300K contract for Cortines comes before LA Unified board

LA Unified's ray cortines

LA Unified Interim Superintendent Ray Cortines

* UPDATED

If it’s Tuesday, there must be another LA Unified board meeting.

Now that the John Deasy era is over, the seven members begin facing more mundane matters, and this time, tomorrow, the 10 am meeting has only one item for open discussion before the members move behind closed doors to discuss, among other things, labor contracts and litigation.

The item for the board in the open session is approving an employment contract for Ray Cortines, the once and current superintendent who was lured out of retirement to hold the seat until the board finds a permanent replacement for Deasy.

According to board documents, the Cortines contract will run from today through the end of next June and pay him the equivalent of $300,000 annually, or $50,000 less than Deasy’s deal. Plus, he gets a car and a driver.

In closed session, the members will review progress — or lack of progress — in bargaining with eight labor groups, including the teachers union, UTLA, which has given no indication its demands are changing now that Deasy is gone.

The board this afternoon added an open meeting at 3:15 pm tomorrow as a formality to recognize issues the union is seeking to negotiate in a new contract.


 

* Adds notice of an afternoon open meeting.

Morning Read: Brown preps plan for school construction funding

Brown’s plan for fixing school construction funding
Capitol sources say Gov. Jerry Brown is developing a sweeping new proposal for righting school construction woes. S&I Cabinet Report


Ding dong LAUSD’s John Deasy’s done! What do we do now?
Commentary: The controversial superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District is out. Now what? Los Angeles Daily News


Public is still owed accounting on Deasy’s iPad emails
Commentary: Will the public eventually find out the truth regarding the question-raising emails between John Deasy and the two companies that won the contract to provide iPads to students? Los Angeles Times


National school boards group ends tobacco partnership
The National School Boards Association ended its health curriculum partnership with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. last week. EdSource


25 percent of low-income urban high schools beat the odds
A new report reveals that a quarter of low-income urban high schools are doing better than a quarter of their high-income counterparts. The Hechinger Report


Torlakson touts experience in tight re-election battle

Torlakson is counting on his years of experience and support from Democratic leaders to persuade voters to give him four more years at the helm of California schools. The Sacramento Bee

Morning Read: Deasy resignation makes headlines nationwide

Deasy resigns as Los Angeles schools chief after mounting criticism
In a sign of the powerful resistance that big-city school chiefs face in trying to make sweeping changes, John Deasy, LAUSD superintendent, resigned. New York Times


Why did the Los Angeles superintendent resign?
In his efforts to improve his district, John Deasy took risks and made impressive gains. He also made mistakes and earned some enemies along the way. The Atlantic


How the iPad helped bring down the Los Angeles schools chief
John Deasy resigned after a bungled effort to give an Apple tablet to every student in the district. Time


LAUSD Supt. John Deasy’s resignation is no cause for celebration
Commentary: More than anything else, Deasy’s departure is a dispiriting sign of a district that is in grave danger of losing its way. Los Angeles Times


Students at South LA’s Manual Arts High react to Deasy resignation
Students at South L.A.’s Manual Arts High School are hopeful that a future superintendent can be a model leader. Intersections South LA

Deasy separation agreement: payout through end of year

hands shakingBy terms of the separation agreement between the LA Unified school district and John Deasy, the out-going Superintendent retains his his salary through the end of the year.

Deasy is remaining an employee of the district “on special assignment” earning his existing salary but not any additional vacation time. His payout will include the cost of his health benefits until June of 2015.

Until the end of the year, the agreement states, he may be called upon to assist in the hand-off to his replacement, Ramon Cortines, who is also his former boss.

However, it clearly states that he is “not to perform any DISTRICT work unless requested to do so.” He is also free to pursue employment, and if he gets one, his relationship with the district would end upon his starting date of the new job.

Deasy is also required to be available for any legal action involving the district.

 

Breaking news: LA Unified confirms Cortines is interim

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines

LA Unified has confirmed that the district’s former superintendent, Ray Cortines, will return to the post on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found for John Deasy, who resigned today.

Here’s the statement:

“The Los Angeles Board of Education has appointed Ramon C. Cortines to serve as Superintendent of Schools pending a search process for a successor superintendent to Dr. John E. Deasy.  The District appreciates Mr. Cortines agreeing to serve in this capacity.

“Mr. Cortines will begin his tenure on Monday, Oct. 20.”

 

Breaking News: LAUSD makes it official, Deasy steps down

Deasy cancels ipad contractLA Unified made it official: John Deasy is stepping down as the district superintendent. There was no mention of an interim.

Here’s the statement:

“Today, Superintendent John Deasy tendered his resignation as General Superintendent of Schools from the District. We thank Dr. Deasy for over three years of devoted service to the District and its students. In that period of time, academic achievement rose substantially despite severe economic hardships, and the students of the District have benefitted greatly from Dr. Deasy’s guidance.

“We look forward to jointly celebrating all of the successes of our students that have occurred during Dr. Deasy’s tenure as Superintendent.

“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, and the Board anticipates that the Inspector General’s report will confirm this.

“We further jointly desire a smooth transition in leadership. Towards that end, Dr. Deasy has agreed to remain on special assignment with the District until December 31, 2014.”

 

Morning Read: Year-round schooling growing in popularity

Popularity grows anew for year-round schooling When Stiles Simmons, the superintendent of a two-school district outside Lansing, Mich., looked at the data, he realized summer break was hurting his mostly-low-income students. Education Week


Teacher training extends to gender sensitivity Along with the heavy load of training tied to the new Common Core content standards, a growing number of teachers are also being asked to take professional development intended to improve gender identity awareness and inclusiveness. S&I Cabinet Report


Calif. schools have dogs in unlikely proposition fights When it comes to the Nov. 4 statewide General Election, most of the K-12 education community’s attention has been on Proposition 2, but schools also stand to be impacted by two other ballot measures. S&I Cabinet Report


Norward Roussell, who led schools in Selma in turbulent time, dies at 80 Norward Roussell, who in 1987 arrived in Selma, Ala., as the city’s first black superintendent of schools with aspirations to equalize educational opportunity, died on Monday in Selma. He was 80. New York Times


As Deasy’s fate remains uncertain, other districts continue tech purchases School officials across the U.S. say they have already learned one major lesson from Los Angeles’ botched iPad rollout: Classroom technology is here to stay, but it is important to choose wisely. The Hechinger Report

An update: Deasy is still LAUSD superintendent, for now, anyway

Superintendent John Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

John Deasy is still the LA Unified superintendent.

The district board met for more than 13 hours yesterday, including seven in closed session, where Deasy’s employment status was on the agenda. But the members emerged after a final 30 minutes in closed session at 11 o’clock last night with no announcements.

That means that the beleaguered boss is still at the helm of the nation’s second-largest school district even if his continued association with the district remains uncertain.

Little is really known about what’s going on. The board has authorized settlement negotiations for a buyout package, but there has been no public indication that lawyers are close or even if they are still talking.

Short of a buyout or an outright resignation, the board has several choices: It could vote to fire Deasy under several scenarios, which include instant dismissal, which would leave him in charge for nor more than 30 days; or judging his performance, scheduled for Oct. 21,  less than “satisfactory,” which would mean letting him remain through the end of his “at will” contract, June 2016.

The thing about a vote to fire him is tricky. The board needs four votes to do, and the votes don’t appear to be there yet. As much as several members clearly want Deasy out, the board operates with a majority rule on votes. It seems reasonable to assume that if a majority wanted him gone, he’d be gone by now.

Anyway, Deasy returns at the end of the week from South Korea to await his fate — not to mention updates on Jefferson High School, MiSiS problems, iPads, Title I battles and all the other issues plaguing LA Unified these days.

 

Morning Read: LAUSD takes on bullying of LGBT athletes

LAUSD ‘blowing the whistle’ on bullying, hazing of LGBT student athletes
Officials announced Tuesday the Los Angeles Unified School District will “blow the whistle” on bullying and hazing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student athletes. Los Angeles Daily News


A fortune for iPads, but not enough for math books
Commentary: With the conversion to Common Core standards, L.A. Unified purchased new math books for eighth grade, but not for sixth or seventh. The reason was lack of funding. Los Angeles Times


Deasy and keeping students at the center of political battles
Commentary: Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced a 15-point increase in its graduation rate. This is cause for immense celebration as more students are on their pathways out of poverty. The Hechinger Report


There’s no Superman, but Deasy wasn’t afraid to try on the cape
Commentary: John Deasy wasn’t dealt a winning hand. He’s a very smart guy, so I think he knew it from the start, but he wanted to play the game as superintendent of Los Angeles Unified so badly that he picked up the cards anyway. The Hechinger Report


LA school board backs $3.6 million ‘bailout’ of faulty data system
The LA Unified board Tuesday night approved the purchase of 3,340 computers costing $3.6 million for school sites struggling to properly schedule classes, take attendance and track student needs in a new data system. KPCC


L.A. school board OKs plan to resolve Jefferson High problems
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a $1.1-million plan to provide a longer school day, additional classes and tutoring to Jefferson High students who lost instructional time. Los Angeles Times

School board returns to closed session to discuss — Deasy?

Superintendent John DeasyAfter 12 hours of open and closed meetings, the LA Unified school board still wasn’t through for the day.

At 10 pm tonight, the members retreated back into closed session, spurring speculation they were returning to the issue of Superintendent John Deasy‘s employment status.

With Deasy in South Korea on a cultural trip and due back at the end of the week, the members had before them the same options they have been wrestling with for weeks, as criticism of Deasy over a multitude of issues has intensified.

Their choices: do nothing; vote on his performance evaluation, which could lead to termination by June 2016; or fire him.

Deasy has the option of negotiating a settlement package to leave — the board has authorized lawyers to start the process. But board members have said nothing has been finalized, and Deasy has consistently refused to discuss his employment status.

If the board does make a decision on Deasy, the members are obligated to report their action publicly at the conclusion of the closed meeting. If they merely go home, that is a sure sign they reached no conclusion and took no action.

 

 

LAUSD board approves plan to solve Jefferson schedule

KABCVia KABC

The Los Angeles Unified School District board unanimously approved a $1.1 million plan Tuesday to resolve class-scheduling issues at Jefferson High School in south L.A.

The issues have hundreds of seniors worried they may not graduate on time. The issues have hundreds of seniors worried they may not graduate on time. According to court documents, at least 48 seniors at the school are unable to attend classes they need in order to graduate.

Also, 204 juniors and seniors are assigned to classes they’ve already passed. The students say they have far too much free time on their hands. Some students claim they sit in the auditorium, assigned to so-called courses where there is no teacher. Others are being sent home to study.

The district and the state say they don’t have the money to take care of this issue. So, it is being taken up in superior court in Alameda County, where a judge ordered the state to fix the problem. That’s where the $1.1 million deal comes in to play.

With that money, the LAUSD board wants to extend the school day at Jefferson High School 30 minutes for 124 days so students can make up the learning time they lost. They also want to add classes and funding to support students and add student transportation services to the school.

They’re going to look into next semester’s curriculum to make sure this doesn’t happen again and also look into the issue of overcrowded classrooms at the school.