In leading LAUSD, big goals are no substitute for planning and hard work

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Former Superintentent of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education John Deasy during a board meeting on August 26, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

The LA Times supported John Deasy’s every move when he was superintendent and ranked out his critics. Deasy who was a Superintendent of schools in Prince George’s County before abruptly resigning after Maryland officials discovered he had acquired his doctorate fraudulently, left the same mess in Prince George’s County.

Now the LA editorial board turns against him and says he had big visions but no follow through. It even calls Deasy’s $1.3 billion iPad plan a “fiasco.”

Says the editorial:

In school superintendent searches across the nation, parents, teachers and the public tend to rank educational “vision” as the No. 1 attribute required for a new leader. But in online surveys and focus groups in Los Angeles Unified, vision came in at a weak ninth, according to the executive search firm helping the district hire its next leader.

Interestingly, the survey results may be as much about the past under John Deasy as they are about the future. Deasy, who resigned under pressure last year, had vision galore. He wanted the largely low-income and minority students in his district to have access to up-to-date technology, nutritious breakfasts, more effective discipline and classes that would qualify them for four-year colleges. Deasy’s eloquence on the subject was admirable, and his sense of urgency was legendary; he wanted it now.

What became apparent over time, though, was that setting high-profile goals was only one part of the job; where Deasy stumbled was in getting down to the unglamorous work of making those dreams come true through meticulous planning, accounting for contingencies and addressing valid concerns raised by others.

It would be a shame for vision to fall toward the bottom of the list of the district’s priorities. Deasy was right about what L.A. Unified students need. Big goals should still be at the top — as long as they are paired with a commitment to the hard, incremental work of achieving them.

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LA

City of Los Angeles – California

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