LA Unified-UTLA Talks on Labor Charge is Postponed

mediationAn informal conference to discuss a possible settlement in one of the teachers union’s unfair labor practice charges against the LA Unified School District has been postponed; it was supposed to have taken place Thursday. It’s not clear when the sides will meet.

The union filed the action in June with the Public Employee Relations Board (or PERB), objecting to the new teacher evaluation system set up by Superintendent John Deasy, which will, in part, use student test scores. (Of course, there may not be any test scores this year, but that’s a different story.) If the two sides don’t reach a settlement, the case will move to a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The teachers union filed two other unfair labor practice charges in September, over teachers that were separated from their classrooms at Crenshaw High School and City of Angels Independent Study School.

Previous posts: UTLA Files Action Against District Over Teacher Evaluations*Teachers Union Files Two More Unfair Labor Practice Charges*District Urges Board to Dismiss Union’s Unfair Practice Charge

District Urges Board to Dismiss Union’s Unfair Practice Charge

Deasy, left, Fletcher, right

Deasy, left, Fletcher, right

LA Unified is urging the Public Employment Relations Board to dismiss the teacher’s union’s unfair labor practice charge, filed in June. The nine-page district response, dated August 15 and posted today by the LA Daily News, outlines a series of reasons that the district says shows that the charges are without merit.

The issue at hand is over the new teacher evaluations, which are being implemented for the first time and use a far more numerous and nuanced set of metrics than in years past, including, crucially, student test scores.

The LA teachers union has been vehemently opposed to the use of such scores in years past, but reluctantly agreed to them last year after a judge ordered that new evaluations be created based, in part, on student achievement.

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Morning Read: New Rules Expose Old Rifts for CA Schools

A Compelling or Distracting NCLB Waiver?
Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s approval of the CORE districts’ waiver from unattainable provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, exposed some old and some new internecine disputes in California education. EdSource


State Begins Work Revising Teacher Preparation Based on Common Core
The state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing has approved a two-year plan for updating educator training standards – the first comprehensive review in more than a decade. The plan comes forward as public schools in California are already transitioning to new curriculum standards based on a set of national goals in math and English language arts – with new common science standards soon to be ready for adoption. SI&A Cabinet Report


American Education’s Path Back to Greatness
This week, New Yorkers are likely to suffer a mix of disappointment and frustration when the state releases the results of the rigorous new testing regime that New York State has adopted as it joins the national Common Core movement to raise standards of American education. Kentucky, the first state to adopt Common Core-aligned testing, saw its initial scores drop by as much as 33 points, or nearly 50%. New York Daily News


States’ Common-Core To-Do Lists Topped by Tests, Curricula
On the heels of its latest survey taking states’ temperatures about the political environment surrounding the common core, the Center on Education Policy has released a report detailing how far along state education officials think they are in implementing the new English/language arts and math standards, and what they see as the biggest remaining challenges. EdWeek


The Pedagogical Agenda of Common Core Math Standards
Mathematics education in the United States is at a pivotal moment. At this time, forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards, a set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading. Thirty-two states and the district have been granted waivers from important parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. As part of the agreement in being granted a waiver, those states have agreed to implement Common Core. My fear (as well as that of many of my colleagues) is that implementation of the Common Core math standards may actually make things worse. Education News

Teacher Evaluations Still a Work in Progress

teacher-evalTeacher evaluations for the 2012-13 school year were due about a month ago.

Even though they included a section for “student achievement,” it’s safe to say that particular section was a work in progress.

“There was literally just a few weeks to get it implemented, and we had to implement it according to the courts,” said LAUSD instructional director Brian Lucas. “We had to start something now, so we did.”

This year’s set of evaluations are the last of the old Stull evaluations. Next year, they’ll be replaced by a new system that Lucas is calling the Teacher Growth and Developments Cycles.

The new system offers a far more specific set of criteria for a principal to evaluate a teacher with during classroom observations.

“It’s very detailed and specific to what’s happening in the classroom,” said Lucas. “Before, observations could be  generic — for example, they could write, ‘good job.’ Now it’s detail based, fact based.”

Teachers will be evaluated under the new system starting in 2013-2014, but training for principals will start over the summer.

Results of the California Standardized Tests aren’t available yet, so the student achievement section on this year’s evaluations will rest on what sounds like a rather squishy metric — what Lucas calls a ‘data objective’ agreed to by the principal and the teacher. That’s almost sure to change by the end of next year.

“We need to fully flesh out what this is going to look like, what data points are going to be used,” said Lucas. “And the state testing is changing substantially for next year.”

Previous posts: Revamp Teacher Evaluation Plan, Says LA TimesUnion Tells Teachers How to Protest EvaluationsTeachers & Principals Question Deasy Teacher Evaluation Plan

Senators’ Silence Dooms Teacher Evaluation Bill

To the surprise of almost no one, a bill that sought to make changes to California rules on how to evaluate teachers failed to pass the Senate Committee on Education during its second-chance hearing Wednesday.

What was particularly notable about the bill’s failure was the absence of the majority of the Committee’s members during the hearing and the vote.

Last week, the members had deadlocked 4-4 on the legislation, dubbed SB 441, with one abstention. This week, only three out of nine senators — Senators Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad), Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), and Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) — voted “yes.”

The other six members of the Committee sat silently when their names were called. (Watch video of the roll call here, around the 2:59 time mark.)

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Morning Read: Lawmakers Stall on Teacher Evaluation Bill

Bill to Alter Evaluations of California Teachers Fails Again in Senate
Legislation that would alter how California schools judge teachers flunked another test on Tuesday, failing to advance for the second time in a week. Sac Bee
See also: LA School Report


Duncan Says It’s Still Possible for State to Get NCLB Waiver
California remains interested in receiving a waiver from sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday it remains possible for the state to get one. EdSource


L.A. Mayor’s Race: Wendy Greuel Uses Web Chat to Target Women
The chat participants, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, L.A. Unified President Monica Garcia, longtime civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and operatives from the Feminist Majority and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project, urged Los Angeles viewers to join their canvassing efforts on Greuel’s behalf. LA Times


Poll: Should Breakfast Be Banned From the Classroom?
Should under-nourished students be allowed to eat in the classroom? The issue became a hot topic this week after Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy passed on making a decision, putting the future of a pilot breakfast program into the hands of the school board. KPCC
See also: LA School Report

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Senators Absent for Teacher Evaluation Hearing

The empty seats at the Senate Education Committee’s May 1 hearing on SB 441. via Twitter

A bill known as SB 441 that proposes changes to California’s rules on teacher evaluations is being considered a second time today by the Senate Committee on Education today — but eight out of nine of the Committee’s members have been absent from the meeting.

Scheduling might explain at least in part of the reason why only Senator Carol Liu is present at the hearing. This is a particularly busy day in Sacramento, as the deadline for the policy committees to report fiscal bills to the Fiscal Committee is Friday, May 3.

But another possible explanation might be the controversy surrounding the proposal, which pits the state teachers unions, who oppose the proposal, against reform advocacy groups like StudentsFirst, who support it.

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Union Re-Launches Deasy Evaluation Effort

Superintendent John Deasy

Apparently not content with its recent poll on LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy’s performance, UTLA is now embarking on a “Superintendent Performance Review” that calls on teachers to review Deasy’s work.

The union’s announcement of the new Deasy survey appears somewhat more neutral than it was for the last survey, which indicated what the union thought about the superintendent through mocking cartoons. (See the first survey announcement here.)

The union characterizes the new survey as reversing the evaluation tables with a “Stull Deasy” theme. (In LAUSD, to “Stull” someone is to evaluate them, per the Stull Act, which requires teacher evaluations.) The survey asks UTLA members if they think Deasy is “fair,” “effective,” “the best,” or “the worst.” There’s been a spike in negative evaluations of teachers since Deasy has arrived, and no doubt some teachers will be more than happy to return the favor.

LA School Report has contacted UTLA for more details, including why the union is doubling up on its review of the superintendent. The evaluation is scheduled to be distributed by Friday, May 3, and is due back by May 10.

Previous posts: Union “Surveys” Teachers for Deasy Criticism; Teachers Vote Against Deasy, For More Teachers; Teachers Vote on Deasy Tomorrow, Too

Morning Read: Study Praises Teacher Evaluation Tool

First Academic Study of Controversial LA Unified Teacher Evaluation Program
An academic study of a teacher evaluation method that looks at how much teachers are able to improve students’ test scores gave the pilot program a good grade. But the study comes too late — the teacher’s union and Los Angeles Unified School District agreed not to use the measure in the district’s new teacher evaluation protocols. KPCC


L.A. Unified Fight Focuses on Breakfast Program
Los Angeles Unified will eliminate a classroom breakfast program serving nearly 200,000 children, reject more school police, cut administrators and scale back new construction projects unless the school board votes to approve them, according to Supt. John Deasy. LA Times
See also: LA School Report, Sac Bee, LA Daily News, KPCC


‘Super PACs’ Negate Spending Limits in L.A. Mayor’s Race
As groups raising funds for Greuel and Garcetti pour money into the race — a record $6.1 million so far — voter-approved contribution restrictions become meaningless. LA Times


Eric Garcetti for Mayor
Perhaps most important, Garcetti has demonstrated the capacity to grow, learn and improve his performance. He admits mistakes, such as his vote in favor of a settlement allowing, for a time, virtually unregulated digital billboards. LAT (editorial page)


L.A. Schools Finish One-Two in National Academic Decathlon
After months of preparation, Granada Hills Charter High wins the title for the third straight year. Finishing second was El Camino Real Charter High, a six-time national champion. LA Times
See also: Sac Bee

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Committee Deadlocks on Teacher Evaluation Bill

Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) sponsored the teacher evaluation bill.

A proposed bill known as SB 441 that would tighten teacher evaluation rules statewide narrowly failed to pass the Senate Education Committee Wednesday — but it’s not completely dead yet.

After hearing impassioned testimony from parents, teachers, and union representatives, the Committee deadlocked 4-4 over approval of the legislation.

But the Committee also voted to reconsider the bill later in an amended form, leaving the door open for a return to the issue.

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Morning Read: Did UTLA Leaders Make a Deal With Candidate?

Rumor of Deal Roils Teachers Union
The leadership of the Los Angeles teachers union is roiled over whether its officials made a private deal with a Board of Education candidate whom critics view as an ally of anti-labor forces. LA Times


New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Donates $350,000 to LAUSD Reformer’s Campaign
With the runoff now less than a month away, Bloomberg has given the coalition an additional $350,000 – again at Villaraigosa’s request – to support the election of Antonio Sanchez to the District 6 seat. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report


Teacher Evaluation Bill Opposed by Unions Dies in Committee
Legislation that would have required more frequent evaluations of educators was killed by a state Senate committee Wednesday under strong opposition from teachers’ unions. LA Times
See also: LA School Report, SI&A Cabinet Report


Jerry Brown Vows Battle With Democratic Critics of Education Plan
Gov. Jerry Brown offered a spirited defense of his plan to overhaul the state’s education system Wednesday and warned Democratic critics of his plan that they were “going to get the battle of their lives” if they attempt to change key parts of his proposal. LA Times
See also: EdSource, Fresno Bee

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Morning Read: Unions Oppose Teacher Evaluation Bill

Teacher Evaluations: Let the Battle Begin
On Wednesday, the state Senate Education Committee will take up a bill by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, that would adopt a formal state standard for evaluating teachers. SD Union-Tribune Editorial


A Student With Promise, a Teacher Who Had to Help
Brought to the U.S. as a baby, Itzel Ortega had no way to get financial aid to become an architect. Then a former teacher, recalling her own story, stepped in. LA Times


L.A. Unified Teacher Arrested for Alleged Child Porn Possession
Douglas Randolph Collins, 46, of Valencia, was taken into custody at the Van Nuys Education Center, where he had been sent after being removed from the classroom after authorities began investigating child porn allegations in October. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News, HuffPo


LA Mayor’s Race: How the Candidates Stand on Your Issues
Even though the mayor doesn’t have any direct authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District, many voters said they want the next major to play a role in education. Neither Greuel nor Garcetti has indicated they would follow Antonio Villaraigosa’s lead. KPCC
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Morning Read: District 6 Runoff Ramping Up

In L.A. School Board Race, Sky-High Spending Continues
Record spending will continue in the last remaining race for a seat on the Los Angeles school board, as a political action committee has put together a war chest of about $600,000 to use on behalf of a candidate endorsed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


State Probes Burbank Third Grade Cheating Report
Burbank school officials say a third-grade teacher has been put on leave after a student reported a got help with answers on state standardized tests. KPCC
See also: LA Times


State Toughens Regs for Interns Teaching English Learners
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing will now require non-credentialed Teach For America teachers and other intern teachers to receive more training in how to teach English learners and to get weekly on-the-job mentoring and supervision. EdSource


Democratic Party Schism Over Scandalous Schools: Gloria Romero, Slimed by Teacher Unions, Says Sober Up
A few days ago, the teachers union wing of the California Democratic Party tarred the growing numbers of breakaway Democrats who, in sync with President Obama, point the finger at teachers unions as a big obstacle to fixing crappy schools. LA Weekly

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Analysis: Worried Teachers, Union Publicity Stunt

Via LA Times

Most of the news coverage surrounding last week’s union straw poll on LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy focused on the whopping 91 percent of teachers who expressed “no confidence” in his leadership and treated the result as if it had some sort of real-world impact.

What got left out or minimized along the way was the reality that the vote was really nothing more than a “push” poll crafted by UTLA leaders to generate negative responses (teachers were encouraged to vote against Deasy) and that the result was largely the result of budget cuts and tougher evaluations in recent years that have cost thousands of teachers their jobs and put many more in an angry, uncertain mood.

There were however at least a couple of voices out there challenging the coverage, including Educators 4 Excellence and — somewhat of a surprise — the LA Daily News editorial page.

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Commentary: What Yesterday’s LAT Editorial Left Out

Thursday’s LA Times editorial about the use of student achievement data in teacher evaluations around the country (Bill Gates’ warning on test scores) makes some valuable points about the dangers of rushed, half-baked teacher evaluation schemes that count test scores as more than half of a teacher’s evaluation (as is being done in some states and districts). But it neglects to mention how the issue is playing out in LAUSD — and omits the controversial role the Times itself played in promoting the use of test-based teacher ratings three years ago.

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More Failing Teachers Pushed Out Under Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy via LA Weekly

From LA School Report contributor Hillel Aron:

“Bad teachers are rarely fired. In the 2005-06 school year, according to LAUSD’s human resources division, just six of L.A.’s army of 34,000 teachers were dismissed, and 10 were convinced to resign. In 2006-07, those numbers were three and 15….

“Without fanfare, the school district famous for its unacknowledged Dance of the Lemons — a policy of repeatedly transferring the worst teachers to unsuspecting new schools — has started to fire its bad teachers

“Last year, 331 teachers flunked their Stull evaluations, and 89 of those were fired or pushed out.”

Read the rest of the story at LA Weekly.

Morning Read: Symbolic Teacher Vote on Deasy

Teachers to Vote on ‘Confidence’ in L.A. Schools Supt. Deasy
Members of the L.A. teachers union begin casting ballots Tuesday in a symbolic confidence-vote referendum on L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


CTA Goes Hollywood on Teacher Dismissal Bills
An adage in politics is that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Not so for the California Teachers Association, California’s most powerful political special interest. Their mantra seems to be more like, “If you can’t beat ‘em, just overtake ‘em.” OC Register Column
See also: SD Union-Tribune Editorial


What’s Really Scandalous About the School Testing Scandal
Even if we eliminate all the cheating, what remains is a broken system built on the dangerous misconception that testing is a proxy for actual teaching and learning. Time


What Will New Evaluation Systems Cost?
The cost of new teacher-evaluation systems is likely to vary based on how states and districts choose to establish student-growth measures for all teachers, according to an analysis from a researcher at the Value-Added Research Center. EdWeek

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Morning Read: Teachers Pass as Students Lag Behind

Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind. NY Times


California’s Largest Teachers Union Now Backs Bill to Ease Firing
Districts have long complained that the process is cumbersome and expensive, but unions have stridently fought attempts to change it.  Union leaders say the new proposal would shorten the dismissal process in a way that still allows charges against teachers to be handled fairly. San Jose Mercury News


Want to Teach Better? New Study Says Use Your Hands
One key to more effective teaching could be as simple as talking with your hands, according to a new study from the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. KPCC


Final Count in L.A. Election Due Tuesday After Three-Week Delay
Three weeks after the Los Angeles primary election, the city will announce the final vote count Tuesday in races for mayor, City Council and other local offices. LA Times

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Morning Read: Decreased Pink Slips Statewide

Dramatic Dip in ‘Pink Slips’ Given to Teachers
Reports are still trickling in, but the number could be as low as 2,600 notices statewide – down 87 percent from the 20,000 “pink slips” issued last year and just a 10th of the 26,000 notices issued in 2010, the peak during the recession, according to the California Teachers Association, which tracks the numbers. EdSource
See also: HuffPo


Most State Board members Back Districts’ NCLB Waiver
A majority of State Board of Education members expressed strong support at their meeting Thursday for a consortium of districts’ unconventional request for a waiver from constraints of the federal No Child Left Behind law. EdSource


Aspire Surrenders Benefit Charter Status Under Settlement Terms
Aspire Charter Schools will surrender its statewide benefit charter status under terms of a settlement agreement reached today between the charter operator, the state board of education and the group of education advocates that brought the lawsuit. SI&A Cabinet Report

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