Caputo-Pearl Q&A: Running LAUSD like a business?

Logo_LATimesVia the Los Angeles Times | By Patt Morrison

It’s a funny world, and a small one. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the new head of United Teachers Los Angeles, went to school in the same Maryland school district where John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was once superintendent.

They missed each other there, but now they’re in the same place, at the same time, on opposite sides of the table and sometimes on the issues. Caputo-Pearl, who was elected with 80% of the vote, was an ardent labor activist at Crenshaw High School, which he says got him ousted from the school after 13 years there. It was Deasy who decided the poorly performing school needed a clean sweep of faculty. Watch for big headlines as contract negotiations unfold.

Read the full story here.

Morning Read: LAUSD eyed Pearson software early on

Early technology plans called for training on Pearson software
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s early technology expansion plan called for all teachers to be trained on textbook publisher Pearson’s iPad educational software, according to a document obtained by KPCC. KPCC

MiSiS computer mess could impact college applications
Concerned that high school seniors could miss college application deadlines if the school district’s stumbling computer system isn’t fixed, Los Angeles Unified School board members asked staff Tuesday about backup plans. LA Daily News

County approves LA Unified’s accountability plan
After seeking clarification from the Los Angeles Unified School District about how it calculated the funds it said it was spending on low-income students, English learners and foster children, the Los Angeles County Office of Education has approved the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan. EdSource

It’s time to do accountability right – and yes, we know how
Opinion: Using standardized tests as the sole measure of educational performance is a bit like using a measuring tape to calculate weight. You’ll get a number, all right, but it will have limited meaning. S&I Cabinet Report

Panorama City school first to clean up neighborhoods around campuses
Walking to class at Vista Middle School in Panorama City, kids cross over the Pacoima wash — a littered and foul-smelling channel that has become the first battlefront in Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer’s plan to create a safer environment for children. LA Daily News

Teachers union ups pressure on Deasy over technology, contract

Alex Caputo Pearl LAUSD Board meeting-9.9.14

President of UTLA, Alex Caputo-Pearl


With a new contract on the line, the LA Unified teachers union, UTLA, is stepping up its attack on Superintendent John Deasy, blaming him for problems large and small and the opening line the district has taken for a new contract with teachers.

Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl ratcheted up the tension at the district board meeting this morning, with a broadside against Deasy, who appeared unmoved throughout the barrage.

“This board has to look very carefully at what money is going into cleaning up after autocratic measures,” Caputo-Pearl told the members, referring to the recent problems surrounding the district’s iPad contract and the bungled roll out of MiSiS, a student data management system.

It was the latest of Caputo-Pearl’s references to Deasy as an autocrat, a broad criticism for unilaterally making policy decisions without consulting or completely ignoring the union’s position on issues.

Caputo-Pearl also used his brief appearance at the meeting to tell the board members they have $507 million in “unrestricted reserves,” suggesting that the money could be included in a new deal for teachers, who have been offered the same contract terms — raises of 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent over the next three years — as the district has offered its other unions.

“That’s a huge amount,” he said, and he returned to face the board hours later, after its closed session, to repeat his demand to use the $507 million for teachers.

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LIVESTREAM coverage of LAUSD’s school board meeting today

livestreamGrafix250Today the LA Unified Board of Education will convene briefly at 10 a.m. before adjourning to a closed session. They will then reconvene at 1 p.m. for an open session, covering a variety of items.

For the 10 a.m. board agenda, click here, and for board materials, here.

For the 1 p.m. board agenda, click here, board materials, here, and the unaudited actual materials on tab 5, here.


Torlakson, Tuck in statistical tie, according to new Field poll

torlakson and tuck vergara

Tom Torlakson (left), Marshall Tuck (right)


A new Field poll shows that the race for state Superintendent of Public Education is tightening. Some might say it’s now nip and tuck.

A survey conducted over the last two weeks in August of 467 people who said they were likely to vote in November found that the incumbent, Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive, now leads the incumbent, Tom Torlakson, by 31 percent to 28 percent.

It’s not only a slim and un-projectable lead, there were another 41 percent of voters who said they were undecided, making this race appear a virtual tossup.

As the better known candidate, by virtue of his incumbency, Torlakson registered a 40 percent favorable rating with voters and a 14 percent unfavorable rating. Another 46 percent had no opinion.

Tuck’s favorable/unfavorable ratings were 27 percent and 11 percent, with 62 percent expressing no opinion.

Previous Posts: Marshall Tuck to Oppose Torlakson for State Superintendent

* An earlier version inverted the results for who is leading.

Morning Read: LAUSD’s iPad program still raising questions

Questions persist over troubled iPad deployment in LA schools
With the huge purchase plan suspended, Superintendent John Deasy has alternated between assertions of his acceptance of the slowdown as a chance to regroup and denunciations of others who he said had politicized the process. Government Technology

Universal preschool spending draws wide support in national poll
A new Gallup Poll released Monday shows more than two-thirds of those surveyed favor federal funding of expanded preschool access. KPCC

Schools must report sports equity data
There should be no question about whether girls and boys have equal sports opportunities now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill requiring school districts to track and publicize corroborating data. S&I Cabinet Report

Commentary: Don’t blame lawyers for LAUSD’s lawsuit problems
In her opinion piece, “Largest school district, highest litigation costs” Gabriella Holt asserts “frivolous” lawsuits brought against LAUSD by “unscrupulous attorneys” result in money being “diverted from children’s education in the classroom to pay for excessive legal fees.” LA Daily News

Progress (or lack of it) with teachers comes to LAUSD board

Galatzan and Ratliff

Unlikely Co-sponsors: Galatzan (left), Ratliff (right)

The LA Unified School Board returns tomorrow with a full agenda although a lot of the juicy stuff will be discussed in closed session.

In addition to the usual topics — personnel issues and ongoing litigation — the board will review labor negotiations, which at this point is down to the on-going talks with the teachers union, UTLA.

The union submitted its initial proposal to the board late last week and in it, UTLA called for discussions of various subjects, including salaries, teacher evaluations and discipline at future bargaining sessions. The proposal is the first item of business on the agenda for the board’s open session. However, the board will not publicly discuss the demands contained within the document nor any details of negotiations, such as they are.

Although an update on the student data system, MiSiS, is not officially on agenda it is inconceivable there wouldn’t be a lengthy discussion about it either in closed session or by a public speaker later in the day. Problems with the program have made it next to impossible to get an accurate count on the number of students enrolled in each school and in the right classes, according to school principals and school administrators. That has set schools back in making necessary teacher hiring adjustments.

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Commentary: Vergara could be a win-win for students and teachers

EdWeekVia EdWeek | by Carl Finer

As a veteran urban educator and career union member, I care deeply about both my students and building the systems to ensure that all students and teachers have what they need to be successful. In the legal precedent laid out in the controversial Vergara decision relating to teacher tenure in California, I see a potential window of opportunity opened for all of us to rethink our current conceptions of accountability and advocate for something that will serve both students and teachers better.

Registration is required, but you can read the full story here.

Not everyone is rejoicing over halt to LAUSD’s iPad program

LAUSD schools that won't be getting iPads 2014-2015

Click to enlarge image

Principal Steven Martinez of John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park figured the worst that could happen is that his school’s new iPads wouldn’t connect to the Apple TVs that staff bought to enhance lesson plans.

He figured wrong.

On Friday, he learned that his school is not getting iPads at all.

“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Martinez told LA School Report. “We want the iPads, and we were waiting for them to come any day now.”

John Burroughs is one of 27 LA Unified schools next in line to get iPads that were part of the district’s grand plan to put a digital device in the hands of every student. Superintendent John Deasy halted the plan in late August after questions over whether he and a former deputy, Jaime Aquino, manipulated the bidding process that gave the $1 billion deal to Apple and its software supplier, Pearson.

He announced that a new bid process would begin soon, but the largest number of schools that won’t get iPads soon, 11, are in George McKenna‘s District 1 — the poorest of LA Unified’s seven districts.

“Whatever is going on just get them to us because we’re ready to run over here,” Martinez said, a reaction that suggests, despite the controversy, not everybody in LA Unified opposes the iPad program.

In fact, Martinez’s school went to great lengths in generating excitement for them.

About 1,800 mostly low-income students attend Burroughs, and the campus is offering several specialized programs tied to the iPads, including a magnet program for Korean and Spanish dual language and a large special education program. For more than a year, Martinez has organized multiple training workshops for teachers, instructional coaches and parents “to show them the capabilities of an iPad.”

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Morning Read: LA Unified teachers paid less than state peers

LAUSD teachers are paid less than others in California
Records obtained by the Daily News show that those LA teachers averaged $2,148 — about 3 percent — less in pay than peers at a majority of California schools last year. LA Daily News

Why don’t more men go into teaching?
Analysis: Across the country, teaching is an overwhelmingly female profession, and in fact has become more so over time. More than three-quarters of all teachers in kindergarten through high school are women. NY Times

Parents at Pasadena charter school left scrambling after campus closes
Parents at Celerity Exa Charter in Pasadena were left scrambling to find a new school for their children last week after the campus abruptly shut down. LA Times

Illinois to upgrade history, standards; CA’s still pending
History and social science standards will be updated under a plan announced late last month by State Superintendent Christopher Koch, making Illinois the latest state to use frameworks aligned with the Common Core State Standards. S&I Cabinet Report

Kashkari to Gov. Brown: ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’

Debate brown and kashkari

Brown (left), Kashkari (right)

Governor Jerry Brown and his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari, spent a few testy minutes in their debate last night talking about public education.

Their exchange largely focused on the recent decision by Brown, as a loser in Vergara vs. California, to appeal the ruling, which struck down laws protecting teacher employment rights.

Brown was asked why he did and answered this way: “I am appealing because the Constitution requires the Court of Appeals to invalidate the laws of California?

Kashkari suggested Brown made the wrong call:  “The judge got it right. This is one of the most important civil rights cases in years. Nine kids sued Governor Brown and said their civil rights are being violated by a failing school. You side with the union bosses. You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m going too fight for the kids.”

Brown: “That is so false.”

Kashkari: “It’s absolutely true.”

You can view clips here, and here.

Smith leaving United Way LA to join Education Trust-West

Ryan Smith United Way LA

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith, whose work as Director of Education Programs and Policy for United Way of Greater Los Angeles helped improve the educational prospects for students of color and those living in poverty, is leaving his post to become executive director of Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based non-profit focused on many of the same objectives.

In his two years at United Way, Smith helped realign education strategy in Los Angeles to increase the role of parents and community groups in shaping education policy.

He was especially active in the work of Communities for Los Angeles Student Success — a coalition of community groups known as CLASS — advocating for an equitable distribution of the new funds coming into LA United through the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). CLASS now includes 60 community organizations.

He also worked to push the LA Unified school board to include a student member, an innovation that is currently in the planning stage.

In his new position, he said, “I hope to expand the work we’ve been doing in LA.”

After spending several weeks at Ed Trust’s national headquarters in Washington, Smith said he plans to move to Oakland and start his new job in early November.

LAUSD board candidate repudiates statements of ex-aide

Lydia Gutierrez school board

Lydia Gutierrez, candidate for the LA Unified school board seat next year

Lydia Gutierrez, a candidate for the LA Unified school board seat next year, says a former campaign manager misrepresented her positions in speaking to LA School Report earlier this week.

Gutierrez disputed statements from Jose Gonzalez, who identified himself as one of her campaign managers, saying she would not vote to fire Superintendent John Deasy but would have insisted on a closer examination of the iPad program, which Deasy has championed.

She said Gonzalez is no longer working for her and should not have represented any of her positions.

Gutierrez said she is focusing her campaign on three issues: the “waste” of $1 billion for iPads; the cancellation of music, art and vocational trade skill classes; and the influx of consultants hired by the district.

Gutierrez, who ran unsuccessfully for State Superintendent of Instruction earlier this year, is opposing Board President Richard Vladovic for the the LA Unified District 7 seat.

Morning Read: Lawmakers tightening accountability of LCFF

Activists win further regulation of LCFF money
School administrators are still balking at attempts by lawmakers and other student advocacy groups to further tighten accountability restrictions under the state’s new school funding system. S&I Cabinet Report

Superintendent Deasy explains Pearson, Apple meeting
More than a week after new questions arose regarding the bidding process for the 1:1 technology program, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy sent a six-page memo to the school board Tuesday defending his actions and stating that neither he nor his staff violated any rules. KPCC

California teachers’ union sets sights on charters
The national charter sector remains largely union-free despite the efforts of the country’s two largest teachers’ unions, the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers. EdWeek

Celerity Exa charter gives up charter after being closed by fire marshal
Celerity Exa Charter School surrendered its charter to the Pasadena Unified School District on Thursday and will close its Pasadena campus, officials said. LA Daily News

Teachers union submits initial contract demands to LA Unified

UTLA contract proposal to DeasyAfter months of bargaining talks with LA Unified, the teachers union, UTLA, today submitted its first contract demand within the course of current negotiations.

In a document submitted to the board this morning, the union called for discussions of various subjects, including salaries, teacher evaluations and discipline at its next bargaining sessions, according to a district staffer who read the two-page letter to LA School Report.

Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian, said in an interview she was “very pleased to have received their initial proposal.” She declined to discuss any of its content.

The letter, sent by UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl to the board, did not elaborate on salary demands, which the district contends it has not formally received. Caputo-Pearl says the union made it clear to the district long ago what it wants.

“UTLA’s salary proposal of 17.6 percent was formally presented to LAUSD under former President Warren Fletcher,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report. More recently, the union has clarified that the 17.6 percent salary increase demand is for two years.

The proposal comes on the heels of the district’s new deal with the Lieutenants and Sergeants School Police unit, whose contract was approved last night in a unanimous vote by unit members.

LA Unified has also completed negotiations with six other labor groups, most of which agreed to a similar salary increase package: a raise of 2 percent for 2014-15, 2 percent in 2015-16, and another 2.5 percent in 2016-17. Each annual pay bump is contingent on funds available.

While some groups also received a 2 percent lump sum payment for the 2013-14 school year, others tailored the additional payment to suit different preferences.

The raise UTLA is seeking over the next two years is nearly double what other groups have received over the span of three years. Superintendent John Deasy and other district officials say that could ultimately bankrupt the district.

Further, a “me too” clause included in most of the signed agreements allows a union the opportunity to re-open salary negotiations should the school board approve a higher general percentage increase for another group.

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Tech startup innovates teacher evaluation system

NYT logoVia NY Times | by Farhad Manjoo

Halfway through the last school year, Leila Campbell, a young humanities teacher at a charter high school in Oakland, Calif., received the results from a recent survey of her students.

On most measures, Ms. Campbell and her fellow teachers at the Aspire Lionel Wilson Preparatory Academy were scoring at or above the average for Aspire, a charter system that runs more than a dozen schools in California and Tennessee.

But the survey, conducted by a tech start-up called Panorama Education, also indicated that her students did not believe she was connecting with them. Ninety-six percent of the students at Lionel Wilson are Hispanic, and 92 percent receive school lunch assistance.

Read the full story

Morning Read: CA awarded common core test contract

State awards Common Core test contract
With the State Board of Education’s approval, California became the ninth state Wednesday to award a contract to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for the standardized tests in the Common Core State Standards that students will take next spring. EdSource

Truancy package marks half-step in reforms
It’s September – which state schools chief Tom Torlakson has declared attendance awareness month – but that doesn’t mean Gov. Jerry Brown will celebrate by signing a package of bills aimed at reining in truancy and chronic absenteeism. S&I Cabinet Report

As the third-largest school district in state, Long Beach thinking smaller
As students file in for the first day of school Wednesday in the Long Beach Unified School District, more will find themselves at smaller schools and matched with close-knit learning communities as the district works to reinvent its campuses and curriculum. LA Register

Child care hard to find in parts of Los Angeles
Looking only at infants and toddlers, the area doesn’t even have enough space in licensed childcare centers for 1 percent of the nearly 4,000 children 2 and younger who live here, according to the study. KPCC

Majority of students are minorities, but most teachers are still white

A majority of the public school students heading back to school this September aren’t white. But the teachers leading their classrooms are still overwhelmingly so. Huffington Post

Deasy on his critics: Constant attacks are ‘politically motivated’

Deasy comments on education politics

Superintendent John Deasy

Under withering criticism over the iPad program, a new student-tracking computer system and discordant relations with the teachers union, LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy said today that the attacks feel politically motivated at the expense of his agenda to improve the lives of district students.

“I serve at the pleasure of the board,” he said today in a wide-ranging interview with LA School Report. “If the board is not pleased, they can get rid of me at their pleasure.”

Asked if he would relieve them of that action by stepping down, he said, “I’m not prepared to answer that question.”

His tenure aside, Deasy said when he considers the acid tone of criticism over a confluence of issues, “I think it’s a troubling sign to me that the agenda is possibly no longer students. I had always assumed that the agenda was lifting students out of poverty. The agenda appears to be lifting Deasy out of LAUSD.”

The drumbeat of criticism is threatening to end a period of apparent comity and collegiality between Deasy and the school board that began last fall, shortly after it appeared that Deasy was resigning from a post he held since 2011.

Over the last 10 months or so, board meetings have played out with little of the tension that characterized previous meetings. Board President Richard Vladovic, especially, has shown a willingness to work closely and productively with Deasy.

But apparent unity could be cracking under the weight of problems with the iPad program and the bumpy implementation of a computer system that principals, teachers and parents rely on to track the progress and whereabouts of students.

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UTLA holds morning rally to insist Deasy be thrown into ‘jail’

UTLA Rally Alex Caputo-Pearl speaking at a news conference 9-3-2014

Alex Caputo-Pearl speaking at a news conference 9-3-2014

UTLA is calling on Superintendent John Deasy to lock himself in teacher jail while he’s under any investigation over iPads, computer systems or anything else.

At a rally earlier today union President Alex Caputo-Pearl told a crowd of teachers, “We are saying that he has to play by his own rules… He must not report to work here, he must report to teacher jail or report to home.”

Caputo-Pearl also called on “whoever is at the head of this district to be focused on schools and students and the day-to-day operations, and not scrambling to try to get out of investigations.” Assuming that’s Deasy, Caputo-Pearl did not explain how he might do that from “jail.”

The union claims that since Deasy took over, the district has escalated the practice of removing teachers accused of misconduct from the classroom and reassigning them to the central office where they often do nothing but continue drawing a paycheck. And many teachers who have been reinstated after a stint in teacher jail complain they were never informed of the charges against them.

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After runnerup finish in state race, Gutierrez taking on Vladovic

Lydia Gutierrez, former candidate last June for California Superintendent of Instruction

Lydia Gutierrez, former candidate for California Superintendent of Instruction

The LA Unified school board president, Richard Vladovic, is no longer running uncontested for his seat next year.

Lydia Gutierrez, who nearly advanced to the general election in the California Superintendent of Public Instruction race this year, has filed to oppose Vladovic in 2015, when elections are being held for four school board seats — Districts 1, 3 5 and Vladovic’s 7.

Also, Ankur Patel, a former candidate for LA City Controller, has become a third challenger to Tamar Galatzan in District 3, joining a field with Carl Petersen, Director of Logistics for a Glendale manufacturing company, and Elizabeth Badger, owner of an auto repair company in Canoga Park.

On her Facebook page, Gutierrez describes herself as “a long-time California educator and elected official on the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.” In the June primary, she just missed moving onto the November general election, winning nearly 1 million votes — 24.5 percent of the total — to finish third behind Marshall Tuck (28.9 percent) and the incumbent, Tom Torlakson (46.5). Tuck and Torlakson are facing each other in the November general election.

Her decision to oppose Vladovic came through an analysis of where her votes came from.

Jose Gonzalez, one of her campaign managers, told LA School Report that she came within 1,000 votes from District 7 residents of the total Vladovic received in 2011.

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