Zimmer provides updates on participation in superintendent search

SteveZimmerVideoIn a new video on the LA Unified website, Board President Steve Zimmer  provides the latest count of how many people offered opinions on the superintendent search and what the next steps are in the process.

Zimmer said 13,500 people went to the website to read about the superintendent search, more than 8,000 filled out the survey and 1,500 people attended meetings that were held across the district over two weeks. In a previous interview, he said he’s not completely happy with the turnout, but he wanted to thank the people who did spend the time.

With Spanish subtitles, he said, “I thank every person who turned in a survey, who attended a meeting and who followed the search process.”

He mentioned that the search firm will compile a report and it will be released at the next board meeting, on Nov. 10.

Zimmer said, “Those opinions shared will help guide the board in deciding who will be the superintendent of the nations second largest school district.”

There are also nearly 50 comments so far about the superintendent search process.

LAUSD board to vote on ethnic studies course for graduation

Ethnic Studies Now logoAs support in the state for the idea is growing, the LA Unified school board next month is scheduled to vote on a resolution requiring an ethnic studies course for all district students as a high school graduation requirement.

The resolution was introduced by board member Bennett Kayser and would begin the process with a pilot program at five schools in each Educational Service Center during the 2015-16 school year.

The resolution has received the support of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the California Teachers Association (CTA), the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations and the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition.

“UTLA has always supported the idea that an engaging curriculum, with music, the arts, courses that help students explore their own identities, their own backgrounds, the backgrounds of other ethnicities, are critical,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told the LA Unified board at its Oct. 14 meeting. “And so we are very happy [the ethnic studies resolution] is coming forward and we look forward to doing more support work around that.”

Members of Ethnic Studies Now are planning to hold a rally and press conference outside district headquarters before the Nov. 18 board meeting when the curriculum will be voted on. The group has started an online petition in support of the resolution and also took part in a summit on Oct.18 at Cal State Long Beach called the Campaign to Promote Ethnic Studies (CPES). The summit featured a speech by Kayser.

“Los Angeles is a really diverse place and it’s important that we understand each other. When we have had civil unrest in Los Angeles, it’s been — at least the way the media portrays it — one group against another group. As a result of ethnic studies in our curriculum, I’d like to think that would help bring an understanding so that we will have peace and prosperity through the city and through our schools,” Kayser told the crowd.

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Morning Read: Board Considers Speedier Teacher Investigations

L.A. School Board to Consider Faster Investigation of Teachers
Sexual misconduct allegations at Miramonte Elementary School sparked a surge of investigations of Los Angeles teachers, pushing the ranks of those in “teacher jail” to more than 300 — and prompting officials this week to consider the rights of accused employees. LA Times
See also: AP, SI&A Cabinet Report, LA School Report

Teacher Dismissals: How Do We Protect Children and Safeguard Teachers’ Due Process?
Fire them. Dismiss them. Send them back. Let them languish in “teacher jails” while investigations drag on for months — or even years.  There’s got to be a better, quicker and fairer way to get rid of teachers who truly do not belong in the classroom and support those teachers who do. Huff Po Op-Ed by Tamar Galatzan

Deasy Should Be Thrilled With Union’s No Confidence Vote
It means he’s shaking up the moribund Los Angeles Unified School District and bucking the union that has battled every education reform proposed to protect the livelihood of its teachers – a livelihood that has put a stranglehold on education. LA Daily News Editorial

‘Willful Defiance’ in L.A. Schools
A proposal to prevent the suspending of students for a relatively minor infraction deserves the approval of the school board. LA Times Editorial

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Morning Read: Teachers Vote “No Confidence” in Deasy

UTLA Delivers No-Confidence Vote to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy
LAUSD’s teachers union issued an overwhelming vote of no-confidence Thursday in the leadership of Superintendent John Deasy as he finishes his second year, while a rival survey released by civil rights groups showed strong support for his reform strategies and called for an even more aggressive approach to improving student achievement. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, KPCC, LA School Report, WSJ

Greuel Vows School Reform as Garcetti Seeks End to ‘Division’
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel laid out her plans to improve public schools on Thursday, pushing for tougher evaluations of teachers and principals, while opponent Eric Garcetti secured endorsements from a handful of African American leaders. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News, LA School Report, LA Times Now, LA Weekly

Education Leaders Divulge What They Want From LA’s Next Mayor
There’s been a lot of talk about what the next mayor of Los Angeles should do for public education. KPCC talked to three leaders in the education field about what they expect from the city’s next leader. KPCC

Imagine That: Happy Ending to a ‘Parent Trigger’ Petition
The “parent trigger” movement underwent a maturation process in its latest campaign, a petition to restructure 24th Street Elementary in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Unlike in previous campaigns, there were no lawsuits against the district, no claims by parents that they had been duped into signing the petition. LA Times Op-Ed

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Morning Read: Teacher Dismissal Bill Gets New Champion

Sen. Padilla Drops His Teacher Dismissal Bill
Two days after Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, introduced a bill that would make it quicker and potentially cheaper to fire teachers, Sen. Alex Padillo, D-Los Angeles, has shelved his controversial version of a teacher dismissal bill and signed on as a principal co-author of hers. EdSource

L.A.’s Mayoral Rivals Walk Fine Line in Dealing With Labor
Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are Democrats with long histories of supporting organized labor. But the competition for labor support has upended conventional thinking about the candidates. LA Times

L.A. Unified Officials Let Abuse Allegations Slide, Lawyers Say
Two high-level district employees heard but failed to act on accusations of sexual misconduct by an elementary school teacher, according to attorneys representing alleged victims. LA Times
See also: KPCC, KTLA

LA Unified School Board Blocks Current President From Another Term
The term limit may be the first sign that fewer members on the board of education may support the reform agenda. KPCC

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Group Calls for “Courageous” School Board

Ama Nyamekye, the executive director of Educators 4 Excellence Los Angeles, an organization that advocates for teachers to take a more active role in shaping education policies, wrote an op-ed in last week’s Huffington Post LA calling for a more “courageous” LAUSD School Board:

“Our school board needs to get to work tackling a tall order of business,” she writes, ticking off key decisions and activities the Board should make: evaluating teachers and giving them more tools to teach more effectively, listening to teachers, doing more than simply evaluating educators, building partnerships with communities and families, and embracing diversity. Read the full op-ed here.

Districts Wrong to Rely on Interns, Teacher Says

Districts are wrong to oppose new state limits on the use of the state’s 4,400 alternative certification teachers who work with English Language Learners, according to former LAUSD teacher Walt Gardner, writing on his Education Week blog:

“I don’t dismiss the idealism of new college graduates. I’m sure their desire to “make a difference” is sincere, but it is not enough.” (Read the whole thing here.)

Last week, a state commission voted to ratchet up requirements for alternative certification teaches who work with English Language Learners – limiting the future use of these teachers in LAUSD and elsewhere.

Previous posts: Compromise Protects “Intern” Teachers – For NowWhere The TFAers Are

Morning Read: Budget Forecasts – and Pink Slips

Despite Increase in Funding, School Districts Still Sending Layoff Notices to Teachers
Year after year, March 15th has been a date of dread for California public school teachers. The date, wAhich falls on a Friday this year, is the preliminary deadline for school districts to send out “Reduction In Force” notices for cuts to next year’s staff. KPCC

Senate GOP Leader Wants to Reduce Pink Slips for Teachers
State Senate GOP leader Robert Huff of Diamond Bar says he has a way to reduce the annual practice of issuing preliminary pink slips to tens of thousands of California teachers who later are told they will not lose their jobs. LA Times

LAUSD Budget Forecast Is Getting Brighter
LA Unified’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee is convening Tuesday morning. The proposed agenda shows financial improvement at the district after five years of devastating cuts — due to a boost from Prop. 30 funds. KPCC

Power Shift on L.A. School Board
Election results for seats on the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District – the largest district in California and second-largest in the nation – will have far-reaching implications for the future of education reform in the Golden State. OC Register Column (Gloria Romero)

Divided Over L.A. Unified
One nasty election later, there is no sign that the divisiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District will abate. If anything, it looks likely to increase, with activists in United Teachers Los Angeles announcing that teachers will vote on a passel of anti-reform positions. LA Times Editorial

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Morning Read: Daily News Endorses Two Reform Candidates

Three for LAUSD Board – and for Education Reform
The result could either confirm the slow move toward innovation and reform in the nation’s second-largest school district. Or it could reverse the course, destroying the few steps the district has taken in recent years to shake up the old, failing education structure. LA Daily News Editorial

Bloomberg’s Meddling in L.A. Unified Races Is Paying for Junk Ads
The wealthy New York mayor’s $1-million contribution to the Coalition for School Reform is helping fund attack ads in L.A. that distort the truth and misinform voters. LA Times Steve Lopez Column

Brown’s School Funding Plan Draws Mixed Reactions
The governor’s proposal would funnel more money to low-income, English-learning or foster-care students. Not everyone thinks that’s fair. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News

Los Angeles Unified School District Takes First Steps to Equip Students With Tablets
Last week, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board approved to spend $50 million to purchase tablets, install wireless networks, and provide teacher training for approximately 30,000 students at 47 schools. EdSurge

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Morning Read: Teachers Union Slams Deasy’s 30% Plan

Deasy Wants 30% of Teacher Evaluations Based on Test Scores
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy announced Friday that as much as 30% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student test scores, setting off more contention in the nation’s second-largest school system in the weeks before a critical Board of Education election. LA Times
See also: KPCC, LA Daily News, EdSource, LA School Report

Los Angeles Unified School Board Election Has Nation’s Attention
The race for three Los Angeles Unified school board seats has drawn more than $4 million in donations – as well as the attention of education leaders nationwide – as the district’s powerful unions and the reform movement battle for control of public education. LA Daily News

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East LA Forum: District 2 Candidates, Issue By Issue

Board candidates Isabel Vazquez, Abelardo Diaz, Monica Garcia, and Annamarie Montanez

Held in the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex, Wednesday night’s packed United Way of Greater LA School Board candidates forum provided a somewhat clearer picture of the politics and priorities of the four East LA District 2 candidates who were present.

But some candidates were more direct than others about their views on a range of sensitive issues affecting LAUSD — the role of the teachers union in the district, school choice, the influence of outside money in School Board elections, and Superintendent John Deasy’s job performance.

Let’s go through the candidates’ responses, one candidate at a time.  Or, you can watch the video from the two-hour event here.

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Commentary: Do You or Don’t You Support Deasy?

If you were running for School Board it might seem obvious you would need to be prepared to answer this simple question:

“Do you support current LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy?”

But at last week’s District 6 candidate forum for the Los Angeles School Board race in the San Fernando Valley, this question made for some interesting theater:

Antonio Sanchez, an organizer and former staffer for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa confirmed straight away with a “yes.”

Monica Ratliff, a lawyer and elementary teacher, demurred, saying she is “hesitant to evaluate someone’s job performance based on articles I’ve read,” and would “need to know more” before evaluating him.

Maria Cano, a former LAUSD organizer, said, “I would think twice about evaluating him as a successful employee.”

All three of these candidates have been endorsed by the teachers union, which has been deeply critical of Deasy.  But some candidates are having a hard time giving “The Supe” a clear thumbs up or down. Why?

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Who Will Pick Up the Mayor’s Education Torch?

Mayor Villaraigosa and LAUSD Supt. Deasy

“For the last eight years, education reformers have had a staunch ally in the L.A. mayor’s office,” writes LA Weekly reporter Gene Maddaus in a recent roundup of the Mayoral candidates’ education priorities.

“But in a few months, Villaraigosa will be gone, and at the moment it appears that his successor will not be as strong an advocate for making dramatic changes to the current public school system as he has been.”

“Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, the top two contenders, talk often about improving education,” notes Maddaus, pointing out that Garcetti is the more union-friendly of the two leading candidates even though he supports charter schools.  “But neither has campaigned on the more controversial elements of the education reform agenda.”  (Read the story at LA Weekly.)

Candidates Tout Their Ideas

Campaign questionnaires don’t always yield reflective or candid responses from candidates, but a majority of LAUSD Board candidates have now responded to a questionnaire on the League of Women Voters’ Smart Voter website and their answers shed some light on what they think are the biggest issues facing LAUSD — as well as what’s needed to improve the district.

Click below for some highlights of what some of the candidates have to say, or click above for the full set of responses.  In the very near future, LA School Report is planning to ask and publish candidates’ answers to more specific education questions. What do you think we should ask? Meantime, don’t forget that candidates for District 6 are scheduled to appear tomorrow, January 31, at the next United Way Greater Los Angeles candidate forum.

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Morning Read: Former Teacher Accused of Molestation

Ex-LAUSD Teacher Accused of Abusing 20 Children
A former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of committing lewd acts and sexually abusing 20 children and an adult, law enforcement authorities said. LA Times
See also: ABC LA

Plan to Supply LAUSD Students With Tablet Computers Wins Key Vote
Los Angeles Unified students may be closer to stepping into classrooms of the future where much of the world’s knowledge is right at their fingertips. LA Daily News

Listen: Is the ‘Parent Trigger’ Finally Being Given a Chance?
For the first time since the era of school reform began, the Los Angeles Unified School District has accepted a petition from angry parents demanding “immediate and significant” change in a public school. KCRW

LAUSD Board Candidate Iris Zuniga Drops out of Race for Nury Martinez Seat
Iris Zuniga, one of five candidates to succeed LAUSD board member Nury Martinez in the East San Fernando Valley, announced Wednesday she has dropped out of the Distrct 6 race. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, LA School Report

ACLU: State, School Districts Failing English Learners
More than 20,000 students whose first language isn’t English are not getting proper instruction according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened California education officials with a lawsuit Wednesday. KPCC

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Campaign Trail: Robert Skeels

Robert Skeels

Saturday provides dueling campaign events in LAUSD Board District 2, which includes Central and East Los Angeles. Candidate Robert Skeels is inviting supporters to walk the precincts in Boyle Heights to get out the word on his campaign (for details, click here). Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s the same day that his opponent, incumbent Monica Garcia is staging her campaign kick-off.

Previous posts:  Possible Board Candidates: District 2, More Board Candidates Qualify

Morning Read: LAUSD to Take Over Crenshaw High

L.A. Unified to Overhaul Struggling Crenshaw High
Calling Crenshaw the worst in L.A. Unified, Supt. John Deasy gets the green light to turn the landmark campus into three magnet schools. LA Times
See also: KPCC, KCAL, LA School Report

24th Street Elementary School the Target of New Parent Petition
Parents at an underperforming Los Angeles elementary school are seeking to wrest control from the nation’s second-largest school system a week after parents in a rural California community made history by taking over a failing school there. Reuters
See also: LA Weekly, LA School Report

Hebrew-English Charter School in Van Nuys Approved by LAUSD
A proposed Hebrew-English charter school in Van Nuys won the approval Tuesday of the LAUSD board, which also OK’d the renewal of two landmark charters and the conditional approval of a third. LA Daily News

Funding Schools Fairly
Gov. Jerry Brown will have to tread carefully if he wants his proposal for revamping education funding both to be fair and to work for the ultimate good of the schools. LA Times Editorial

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