Tag Archives: John Deasy

LA teachers planning campaign to oppose charter expansion

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UTLA President Alex Caputo Pearl

UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said the teachers union is planning an aggressive campaign to oppose Eli Broadand other wealthy foundation leaders who have announced plans for a major expansion of charter schools in LA Unified.

In a wide-ranging interview that focused on the state of charters in the district, Caputo-Pearl was highly critical of the effort, asserting that charters are undermining the ability of traditional district schools to maintain a quality education for all students.

“We’re going to make every effort that we can to organize against the expansion of what are essentially unregulated non-union schools that don’t play by the rules as everybody else,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report. “So we’re going to take that on in the public, take that on in the media, engage the school board on it. We’re going to try to engage Eli Broad. We’re going to try to engage John Deasy because we understand he’s the architect of it. It will be a major effort. It is a major concern.”

The charter expansion plans involve three major foundations that have been active for years in education reform across the country: the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the W.M. Keck Foundation. They said they intend to create enough charter schools in eight years to serve as many as half of LA Unified students.

The California Charter School Association has consistently denied that there are separate rules for charters, pointing to the fact that charters have to demonstrate academic achievement and financial stability to remain operating. Many charters do employ non-union teachers, but UTLA in recent years has succeeded in unionizing a number of them.

Caputo-Pearl’s targeting of Deasy evolves from Deasy’s association with Broad before and after he served as LA Unified’s superintendent. Before he was hired in 2011, Deasy attended the Broad Academy, which prepares senior executives for roles in urban education. He resigned as superintendent last year after problems with the iPad program, leading to a federal investigation of the bid process. Currently, he is a consultant for The Broad Center, a separate non-proft organization that helps train future education leaders.

Deasy was replaced as superintendent by Ramon Cortines, who says he intends to step down in December.

“It turns out (Deasy) is involved here with Eli Broad and and this effort, but what really offends us about Eli Broad is that he has been two-faced on issues of public education,” Caputo-Pearl said. “He publicly supported Proposition 30, which was arguably the most important thing in public education in decades in terms of restoring the system. Yet privately was funneling his cash in efforts to defeat it.”

Proposition 30 was a state measure approved by voters in 2012 that raised taxes to support public education.

The Board Foundation did not immediately respond to a message, seeking comment.

Caputo-Pearl and other teacher union leaders, local and national, have fought against the rise of charter schools, asserting that they undermine public education by draining financial support from public education systems and creating an educational caste system that favors some demographic groups over others.

For Caputo-Pearl and UTLA, Deasy personified the challenge for his open support for alternatives to traditional schools.

“We are concerned about these flavor-of-the-day interventions in the school system by billionaires who think that they know things, but really don’t,” Caputo-Pearl said. “The last major intervention that Eli Broad did at LAUSD was making John Deasy superintendent. That didn’t work out too well. We’re under an FBI investigation because of John Deasy. We finally, finally have begun to make improvements to the MiSiS system that spent tens of millions of dollars and had kids out of class for weeks. We of course had the iPad fiasco. We had the beat down of moral of (Deasy’s) autocratic style across the district. Our members are telling us we don’t need another intervention from Eli Broad in LAUSD.”

So strong is UTLA’s animus toward Deasy that Caputo-Pearl said he has urged the school board in its search for Cortines’s replacement to find someone “not out of the Broad Academy.”

“John Deasy was out of the Broad Academy. A lot of the people that he brought in were out of the Broad Academy,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Broad has 120 different people across California that have come out of the Academy who are in high management positions, clearly that’s part of the game that’s being played here.”

While the foundations are formulating their charter expansion plans and UTLA is devising its counter-measures, Caputo-Pearl said he would try to establish a productive working relationship with charter school advocates, such as newly-elected board member Ref Rodriguez, a former charter school executive. He and Rodriguez have met several times.

“One of main issues I raised with him is was that we feel a big part of our strategic plan is around public school accountability and sustainability,” Caputo-Pearl said. “I told him that we want to engage him this issue that all publicly-funded schools need to have common standards we need to adhere to, in terms of equity and access to all students, opportunities for parents to be genuinely involved, adherence to conflict of interest standards, financial transparency, basic common sense apple pie stuff.”

via LA School Report

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Where Shame Is Policy: Inside LA’s ‘Teacher Jail’

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Iris Stevenson hurt no child, seduced no teenager, abused no student at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. This is what her supporters say in rallying outrage that this exemplary teacher has languished for months in the gulag of administrative detention known as “teacher jail”: she doesn’t belong there.

And she doesn’t.

Days before being removed from her music classes in December and ordered to spend her workdays isolated on a floor of the LA Unified School District (LAUSD)HQ with other suspect teachers, Stevenson, a legend in South LA and beyond, was at the White House directing the renowned Crenshaw Elite Choir as it sang for President Obama.

She has not been officially informed of the charges against her. Unofficially, Stevenson is said to have swept off the choir to perform first in Paris and then in Washington without permission—an absurd claim, since parents had to consent, and Stevenson has conducted such foundation-supported field trips untroubled for decades. District authorities say only that Stevenson is under investigation.

If she were a de facto kidnapper, police should have been called long ago. But, no, this is not about criminality or even misconduct; it is about a larger game of control being played by School Superintendent John Deasy. That game owes quite a lot to sex, because a few years ago a scandal tripped the panic button, which Deasy has kept his finger on ever since, exploiting justified public anger over a classroom pervert to pursue a war on teachers.

The political question, then, is not just whether Stevenson belongs in teacher jail but what this institutionalized containment regimen, this sub-bureaucracy of punishment, exists for in the first place, and how the specter of sex is the cowing excuse to go after anyone.

Some form of disciplinary netherworld has long existed in the LAUSD, but teacher jail, also known as “housed employee” locations, entered its high rococo period in early 2012, not long after Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School now serving twenty-five years in prison, was arrested for lewd conduct.

For years, administrators had swatted away complaints about Berndt. When he came under suspicion in January of 2011, they removed him from the classroom but initiated a secretive internal process to pay him to resign. Following his arrest a year later, instead of making a sober assessment of administrative accountability, Deasy pulled the entire staff out of Miramonte. All but the principal were sent to an empty school; there, custodians, cafeteria workers and office staff would perform their regular jobs while seventy-six teachers were to sit facing the wall for six hours for the rest of the school year. The leadership of the teachers union was paralyzed. (It was recently swept from office by a progressive reform slate.)

The teachers, too, were paralyzed initially but resisted the seating plan and made the best of it together over four months, while the media made hay. The LAUSD’s questioning was minimal. Most were never interviewed by police. All were cleared. Not all got their old jobs back, because in the interim Deasy restructured Miramonte, cutting the teaching staff by almost 50 percent. The new form of district discipline was set.

Now about 450 teachers languish in sites around the city. They are given no formal explanation. Overwhelmingly, they are past 40. Disproportionately, they are black; disproportionately, they are LGBT, according to Alex Caputo-Pearl, a leader of the union’s progressive slate and the likely next union president. Some, like Stevenson and Michael Griffin, also from Crenshaw, who spent more than a year in teacher jail before the district acknowledged there were no grounds, have actively opposed efforts to privatize their schools. (The district’s “reconstitution” of Crenshaw is its own story.)

Presumed to be a danger to children, most disappear in silence, their reputations swinging in the wind of conjecture. Some of those “housed,” as the district puts it, are assigned to a room all day, or a cubicle, or an auditorium, or their home. Since their number has mushroomed, some report for short shifts and spend the rest of the workday under a form of house arrest. Some sit elbow to elbow facing a wall, in a bloc within district HQ, overseen by Specialists, who report to Directors. Nondetainees working in their midst are not to make eye contact or speak to them. One, walking past the room and seeing detainees through glass windows, said, “I thought, Oh, creepy; these are the weird people.” Some detainees may not read books or use the Internet or have a phone; others elsewhere may do some or all of those things. Some may be yelled at just for whispering; others may talk with no consequences.

The assault on their identities, the limbo of secret, open-ended investigation, have driven some older teachers out, retiring early and sacrificing lifetime benefits. Justifying the regime, Deasy recently told parents and others, “A teacher could be accused of drug trafficking, child molestation, prostitution, etc.” Fear is a useful tool; under its cover, a profession is suspect, budgets balloon to pay disciplinary costs, and “education reformers” are handed an opportunity.

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Stevenson has been ordered to draw up lesson plans. For what should she plan? She is forbidden contact with her substitute, or with students, parents, staff or faculty on any school-related issue. While her music classes have been left to watch videos, Stevenson can only worry about students with upcoming auditions.

Her extended community has mounted vigorous opposition through rallies, press conferences, a Facebook site and the donning of fuchsia ribbons sayingBring Back Dr. Stevenson. Alumni, parents and the national youth-led organization BAMN have a petition campaign linking Stevenson’s case to a broader attack on Crenshaw and public education.

Vocal community protest recently helped spring Greg Schiller from the same detention. A teacher of AP biology and psychology classes and the coach of the only sport (fencing) at the Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, Schiller had the support of the Los Angeles Times editorial page, students and a group of parents aggressively interested in their children’s futures. With AP exams weeks away, the pressure on the LAUSD mounted. Schiller had been removed from his school in February over fears that two of his students had constructed imitation weapons for a science fair, simpler versions of propulsion systems that have been applauded, variously, as model science projects in California state education materials, and as a darn clever method for shooting marshmallows at a White House science fair.

“They picked the wrong guy,” a Cortines parent told me. That’s got it backward, though, because what enabled Schiller’s mistreatment, and Stevenson’s, is a general consent that mistreatment, secrecy, the lack of due process, is OK for the “right” teachers.

There is no more reason teacher jail should exist than doctor jail or fireman jail. For teachers accused of child molestation or other crimes, there is the option familiar in every other area of life: the police and, assuming there are charges and no bail, actual jail. For serious accusations pending investigation, there are leaves of absence. Alleged minor infractions do not require the disruption of classes and lives.

What’s happening in Los Angeles is not about reason as reasonable people understand it. A Miramonte teacher who is back at work but anxious about using her name still feels the sting of her detention. She said of Deasy’s administration: “They want to dehumanize the profession as a whole, because if you can bring this profession down, if you can make people lose trust in this profession, then you can do anything.”

This, writ large, is the legacy of moral panic: dehumanize anyone, and everyone is vulnerable.

Via The Nation

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Ex-LAUSD chief John Deasy joins Broad leadership academy

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John Deasy, former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, is joining a training academy funded by philanthropist Eli Broad, Deasy’s long-time supporter.

Deasy resigned from LAUSD in October after issues with technology projects and growing tension with the school board. He remained on the district’s payroll until the end of December.

In his new position at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, Deasy will serve as a consultant and superintendent-in-residence for the Broad Academy, the center’s training and coaching program for urban public education leaders, according to a center news release.

>>> Read more 

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Before LAUSD travel ban, former superintendent flew 100k miles last year

on private foundation’s dime

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Dr. John Deasy.

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.

Before he stepped down, Deasy charged more than 30 business trips to his district-issued American Express card over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., at least five times each.

LAUSD’s contract with Deasy, who remains on the payroll as an administrator until the end of the year, states the district is responsible for his expenses. But theWasserman Foundation,  a private family foundation headed by Casey Wasserman, ultimately covers the tab, district officials confirmed.

Deasy continued to travel on district business after he announced his resignation Oct. 16. His decision to step down followed a string of problems with the rollout of key technology projects and growing tension with school board members.

Read more >>> Deasy News. 

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(Click on the above image to enlarge it. Map by KPCC’s news clerk Daniella Segura.)

KPCC obtained two years’ worth of Deasy’s credit card expenses, beginning on June 30, 2012 and extending through the end of June 2014, the close of the district’s fiscal year.

The records show Deasy charged flights, hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation costs for visits to Aspen, Austin, Birmingham and Boston, among other locations. In all, Deasy logged more than 100,000 miles in the air, according to KPCC analysis of flight purchases.

To get a better idea of Deasy’s monthly expenses, KPCC examined charges in August 2013, during which Deasy bought tickets to Washington, D.C., New York, Pittsburgh and Albuquerque.

His local restaurant bills reached $630 for the month with per meal prices ranging from $25 to $250 at Fleming’s Steakhouse. Fleming’s tasting menu starts at $45 per person.

His expenses for the month neared $4,800, including $1,340 for a three-night stay at the W in D.C., which Travel Advisor lists as a luxury hotel.

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