Sunday, October 19, 2014

LAUSafterD: Superman has left the building



4LAKids: Sunday 19•Oct•2014
In This Issue:
 •  TOO MANY MAVERICK MOMENTS FINALLY LED TO DEASY'S UNDOING AT LAUSD
 •  L.A. SCHOOL BOARD OKS PLAN TO RESOLVE JEFFERSON HIGH PROBLEMS
 •  DEASY RESIGNS AND CHANDA IS STILL WAITING…
 •  DEASY’S DEPARTURE PRESENTS OPPORTUNITY FOR LAUSD TO FOCUS ON EDUCATION
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


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This is an issue of 4LAKids I suspect many readers have been looking forward to; I have been anticipating writing it.

It was the week that was inevitably to be.

MONDAY the Special Monitor’s report on the Special Ed Modified Consent Degree went live – and like much that is written about LAUSD of late, it was mostly about MiSiS. And it certainly wasn’t flattering. As late as Thursday senior staff were anticipating an exit from the MCD. Dream on.
"Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear"


TUESDAY had the Board meeting where the Board ran, not walked, into special session at ten AM– and stayed locked in their little room three and a half hours past the start time of the next meeting. I will write more on that later.

Then they came out and addressed the Jefferson High School debacle – which is less about MiSiS and more about a perfect-storm failure of leadership at every level ...but let’s blame it in MiSiS!

I will write more on that later.

Then the Board continued on into the rest of the next agenda (and reapproved my appointment to the Bond Oversight Committee ThankYouVeryMuch) and talked about MiSiS and approved less testing devices than the superintendent asked for and even less than the Bond Oversight Committee approved and voted against releasing the Inspector General’s investigation of the iPads procurement (I will write more on that later) and scurried back into closed session to resume talking about secret stuff into hours way past my bedtime.

A pitiful tweet from LA Times reporter Howard Blume stated “It is 10:56 pm and the school board is still meeting in closed session”.

And at 11:15 Howard tweeted: “L.A. school board fires 4 teachers & zero superintendents Tuesday night”.

AND THEN, AT 8:04 PM ON WEDNESDAY EVENING the LA School Report – usually aligned with the superintendent’s camp - leaked the Breaking News: DEASY EXPECTED TO STEP DOWN

My phone rang almost immediately: “Is it true?” (apparently two blogs in agreement passes for fact) …and within a few minutes it was somewhat confirmed and the Twitterverse and Blogosphere lit up and the superintendent-in-Korea was established to be back in town and Michelle King was-in-and-then-out-as interim supe and media availabilities and press conferences were scheduled and cancelled.

On THURSDAY MORNING All the TV Crews in the World descended on Beaudry anyway and media advisories were issued and at 10 AM everyone read it on their Smartphones at the same moment.

Deasy was gone and Cortines was back without a press conference or a photo op. Cirque du Soleil is the circus without animals; this was a media circus with only the media.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a tweet.

And life went on. Meetings were held. Classes were taught. Students learned and ate their lunch and achieved and/or underachieved as is their wont. Books were checked out of libraries. The school play was rehearsed and a new playground tetherball champion was crowned. Thursday was, in addition to the big shake up, the Great California Shake Out statewide earthquake preparedness drill and everyone from Beaudry to Broadway Elementary duck+covered. There was more relief than happy dancing. It’s theoretically easier to smile than frown …and that proved true.

AND WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

You will read in the story from Sunday’s L.A. Times below of how the Board of Ed negotiated Deasy’s departure while wooing Cortines; a bit of behind the scenes Byzantine intrigue that demonstrates premeditation rather than planning. Not the way to run a twenty-first century school district but Machiavelli would be proud. (To English and Poli Sci majors who balk a mixing the Byzantine and Machiavellian metaphors I offer no apology – power politics like dry martinis are shaken, not stirred.)

Spin Dr. Deasy is not so quietly running Crisis Containment/Damage Control, not so far behind the scenes. He declares victory and retires from the field. His superintendency was “a historic period of time unlike any other”, he is “overwhelmed with pride at what his administration has accomplished”; he has magnanimously stepped aside so that ‘the work’ can be continued. Half-baked/half-digested data are regurgitated about test scores and grad rates. Apparently the recent past was the great new wonderful tomorrow we were promised. Whatever went awry was due to his urgency or the school board’s lack-of-support or the teachers union’s intransigence …or “when you direct resources solely to students, that means those resources are not available to go to adults”.

Which resources are those that went solely to students? They all didn’t get iPads, and those that did didn’t get robust instructional content. Is it the iPads that free students from poverty – or the education embedded therein? Did the students across the District get the resources promised by a new student information system? Did the students at Jefferson get resources when they couldn’t get the classes they needed? Aren’t bond funds resources? Aren’t the executives and stockholders of Apple and Pearson PLC adults?

The most important resource the District has is its people. And Dr Deasy is not a people person. When he says he cares about teachers in the classroom he truly believes he is being honest with us. Not so much so with the man in the mirror. Please excuse the pop social/political psychology: Dr. Deasy falls somewhere on the right of the Eric Hoffer True Believer leadership spectrum: Man of Words/Man of Action/Fanatic. We all get to pick where.

Urgency is the watchword and the ‘excuse me’ excuse. I’m an old guy beset by old guy worries and concerns and maladies. I watch television shows old guys watch – with commercials targeting my ilk. Urgency is not a good thing; it’s a euphemism for bladder control problems, down there on the list with ED and whatever it is the purple pill treats. Mayor Tony was big on urgency too; he could’ve benefited from a little ED.
Sandy Banks and other Deasy cheerleaders claim that “District test scores have soared….” Ms. Banks accuses Mayor Garcetti of being a “hands-off mayor content with incremental gains.” Even I wish the mayor would be more hands-on – but calling Deasy’s miniscule gains “soaring” tortures hyperbole.

The severance package is pretty severe. It’s effective immediately. It pays sixty days when only thirty would be called for if he were to be terminated - but saves Board and Superintendent the drama and embarrassment of a public vote to fire him. He must keep himself available till the end of the year to aid in transition and any “various pending and threatened litigation”. The board opines no wrongdoing, but the agreement specifies that he can never work for the District ever again: "DEASY agrees that he will not seek or accept employment or independent contractor status with the district in any capacity in the future."

“DEASY represents that he is unaware of any undisclosed District-related misconduct he has engaged in as of the date of this agreement”

…and in exchange:

“While the District’s investigation into the Common Core Technology Project has not concluded, the Board wishes to state that at this time. It does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts, and the Board anticipates that the Inspector General’s report will confirm this.”

Closing the door on what he’s best at, he’s forbidden from testifying in court representing LAUSD without permission.

This is all well and good and predictable and cognizant of a presumption of innocence – and also tells us that the previous IG’s report (which the Board in its finite wisdom has decided to keep secret) did not convince the Board of unlawful acts or ethical violations. That investigation looked into the CCTP (LAUSD/Apple/Pearson) RFP, contract and award - but DID NOT investigate the potential unethical/illegal action prior to the RFP now being investigated.

I am going to speculate (because nobody can stop me) that the Board’s stated belief that nothing unethical or illegal took place may be why the one boardmember who voted against the agreement did so.

And I am reminded of a New Yorker cartoon where the subject protests “I thought it was legal - I wrote it on a legal pad.” http://bit.ly/1zgbeEF

When asked about future plans Dr Deasy spins+frames: "I'm not going to speak about them specifically but I would give you the general topics. One would be youth corrections," he said. "Another would be working and supporting the development of superintendents, and the third would be a consideration for political office."

Biting my tongue – or planting it firmly in my cheek – I wonder if he does more damage working with incarcerated youth or developing impressionable superintendents? A good place to start on a political career is running for school board. Does employment “in any capacity” include the Board of Education?

I am quoted in the social media as saying that I don’t believe Deasy is a bad man, but I do believe he did bad things. A friend spouts some Texas wisdom: “Even the most arrogant bastard elevates to sainthood upon their demise.” (She used words more colorful than ‘arrogant’ or ‘bastard’; I have translated from the Texan.) Deasy isn’t dead and I come neither to praise nor bury him.

► TWO THOUGHTS WORTH FAR MORE THAN 2¢ RE: THURSDAY’S TRANSITION

By e-mail to 4LAKids from a knowledgeable school-based educator and occasional contributor

Thur., Oct 16, 2014 11:58 pm

As I read about Supt. Deasy's resignation, I have two thoughts:

The MiSiS debacle was more of a factor than the iPads.
The decision to implement MiSIS this year was negligent, and schools are a shambles do to MiSIS. Unfortunately, there's no obvious way to extricate ourselves from this mess that affects, to varying degrees, every school in LAUSD. Students will be hurt, and after multiple system failures, employees have lost all faith in LAUSD’s Information Technology Division. At a series of eight meetings (22 hours total) hosted by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) between November, 2012 and May, 2014, Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler, Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill and other high district and ITD officials were warned repeatedly, and in compelling detail, by school site administrators and coordinators, but they chose to ignore the school-based experts who would have to use the system.

Most stories state that Supt. Deasy raised test scores, so I reviewed the data this evening.
The Deasy superintendency began in April, 2011, shortly before the CST exams were given, so 2011 seems a sensible baseline. Since the CST was not given in 2014, claims about Supt. Deasy raising test scores rest on the 2012 and 2013 CST. Attached [http://bit.ly/1081pcs] is a spreadsheet that includes the 2011-2013 LAUSD and (for comparison) statewide CST ELA scores for grades 3-11, the CST Math scores for grades 3-6, and the CST Algebra 1 scores for grades 7-11. Cohort views of the ELA and Math are included so that one can see how the same (or substantially the same) group did through three years of testing. There are a few bright spots (6th grade and 10th grade English; 4th and 6th grade math; 8th grade Algebra 1), but there are no huge, across-the-board improvements. Besides, the achievement of an 8th grader on the 2013 CST is the consequence of at least nine years of schooling, only two of which were during Mr. Deasy's superintendency.◄


And even Monica Garcia’s effusive valedictory for Dr Deasy qualified his claims to improved ‘preliminary’ graduation rate(s) for ‘comprehensive’ schools. What happened to No Child Left Behind/Every Child Achieves?

ON THAT NOTE: I was sitting with senior Sacramento staff form California Dept of Ed, and the Governor’s and AG’s offices while we waited for 3½ hours for the board meeting to begin on Tuesday. After we all got acquainted and showed each other Smartphone pictures of our kids, grandkids, horses and cats - and talked about what high schools we went to (apocryphally they promote parent engagement in Connecticut by sending a car for folks to attend PTA meetings!) we discussed the LAUSD advertised goals of 100% attendance + 100% graduation that hovered over us on the big screen. The consensus was that: 1.) Goals – especially for kids - should be realistic …and as almost everyone in the boardroom was making other plans for childcare, feeding families and airplane reservations: 2.) Scheduled meetings should start on time.

Q: Is it always like this? A: Pretty much.

Yes, the Board of Ed was discussing important stuff – and yes, they were having no fun – but they would be doing those things until past 11PM (3PM the next day in Seoul) anyway. Why keep all of LAUSD’s senior staff and students and parents, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction and half the passenger load of Southwest Airlines flight #502 from LAX to SMF – and your querulous blogger – waiting?

When the proceedings finally began I was hoping Superintendent Torlakson would tear into LAUSD for our failures at Jefferson, but he didn’t. It’s a case in litigation and though LAUSD was obviously+admittedly culpable at Jefferson, the judge was watching and attorneys had scripted the response and the plaintiffs and the defendants were in the room. The outrage had already been perpetrated, the damage done and solutions agreed to …and now everyone was on their best behavior. The students made the best presentations – and a student from Dorsey made it clear to the Board and the CDE that Jefferson itself was more of a norm than an outlier.

TO BE CLEAR: Jefferson was a catastrophic failure in leadership in reacting to the MiSiS crisis. The rollout of MiSiS was not exclusively an IT problem; it was and continues to be an institutional LAUSD problem.

Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree Independent Monitor David Rostetter “Our conclusion is that this is fundamentally an organizational management problem, not a technical problem”.

The organization, such as it is, doesn’t just "get" IT.

And it was a management failure at the very top by whoever (singular or plural) made the “green light” strategic+executive decision to go ahead with the districtwide MiSiS rollout on the first day of school, driven by urgency without institutional buy-in, adequate preparation, staffing, training, systems integration, etc. Someone(s) who understood neither IT nor LAUSD. On Aug 24 Dr. Deasy said: “(IT) is not my area of expertise…” and proposed to hire a special liaison to bring him up to speed. [http://bit.ly/1zqMJiV] Aug 21st was ten days into the MiSiS Crisis. Students would walk out of classes at Jefferson on the 25th.

THE POSITIVE THINGS Dr. Deasy accomplished he did by fiat – in what the Times calls his ‘maverick moments’ – flying solo – all by himself. He got rid of chocolate milk on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He forbade out of school suspensions for ‘willful defiance’. He imposed Breakfast in the Classroom, making a promising program really unpopular.

WELCOME BACK RAY CORTINES. You’ve been here before, you know what to do; we know who you are. We all have opinions and hopefully we all remember how to share them.

There is a lot of work to do moving forward and we look forward to doing it. Together.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


●●MORE THAN A PS: This may come as a shock, but there is far more going on in the world than LAUSD.

Here’s a question: Will all those parents who are vaccine resistant – and expose their children and all children to measles and diphtheria and pertussis, etc. – continue when the Ebola vaccine comes on line? The reason why nobody has to get immunized against small pox and polio anymore is because everybody did back in the day.


TOO MANY MAVERICK MOMENTS FINALLY LED TO DEASY'S UNDOING AT LAUSD
SCHOOLS SUPT. JOHN DEASY FLEW SOLO, BEYOND THE CONTROL OF HIS ELECTED BOSSES ON THE L.A. SCHOOL BOARD

By Howard Blume, James Rainey | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1t2M4pA

Oct 19, 2014 | 5:00 AM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District dumped a heap of trouble on its schools this fall when it rolled out a new student records system.

The breakdown was the most severe at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles. Seniors couldn't get courses they needed to graduate. Others had to sit in classes they had already passed. Hundreds waiting for a complete class schedule crammed into the school auditorium for up to three weeks.

In this moment of crisis, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy came up with a novel response, one that positioned him where he had been many times before: flying solo, beyond the control of his elected bosses on the school board, campaigning for reform on a high-profile platform.

Without the knowledge of board members, Deasy prepared a sworn statement in a court case that attacked scheduling practices in L.A. Unified and other districts, citing Jefferson as an example of what was going wrong.

Deasy's declaration irked some school board members and the judge in the court case, who wondered why Deasy didn't take charge of the problem in his own school system.

By then, Deasy's bosses on the L.A. school board had endured enough of his maverick moments. They sent their attorney on a mission to reach out to former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who had led the district before Deasy.

The talks had to remain secret because there had been past tensions between the two, and board members didn't want Deasy to know they were courting Cortines.

The lawyer posed the big question: Would the 82-year-old Cortines consider coming out of retirement?

::

Deasy's 3 1/2 years as head of the nation's second-largest school district ended with his resignation last week, but his path was unusual from the very outset of his tenure at L.A. Unified.

Not the product of a nationwide or local search, Deasy instead was installed as the heir apparent, taking the No. 2 job under Cortines with every expectation he would soon be in charge.

Then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had staked considerable political capital on improving low-performing schools, was among those who quietly demanded that Deasy take over. His previous post had been as a deputy director with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He'd also served as superintendent in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland.

Deasy said from the outset that he would use any means necessary — including supporting legislation and outside litigation — to pursue his vision of what would propel gains in student achievement. His sense of urgency was heightened, he said, by the poverty and low academic skills he saw in Los Angeles.
This is not about me. This is about making a statement to the community that the superintendent, whoever it is, and the board are going to make every effort to work together. - Ramon Cortines, named interim head of L.A. schools

The superintendent repeatedly proved true to his word — most notably earlier this year, when he testified in a groundbreaking court fight that stripped teachers of some key traditional job protections. He wanted to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers in the name of promoting student civil rights. Deasy had his staff devote considerable time to Vergara vs. California before he spent three days on the witness stand.

"I was the only sitting superintendent to participate in the Vergara case and there is a reason for that," Deasy said at the time. "I am taking a risk, but I feel the issue is too important to sit out."

An angry backlash from teachers proved his words prophetic. He also didn't endear himself to members of the Board of Education by proceeding without their approval. (The lawsuit succeeded at trial and is on appeal.)

Deasy's desire to be the vanguard of change also had found expression in his bid to provide iPads for every student — pledging that he would close the technology gap with the state's more privileged children.

The school board unanimously went along, with little discussion and no dissension, until problems ensued with the rollout last year and questions recently emerged about the bidding process.

Months before bidding began, for example, Deasy made a promotional video for Apple, talking about the wonders of the iPad. That endorsement and other statements and actions gave the appearance, to critics, of a single-minded rush toward one product, which troubled some board members and financial overseers. They pointed out how other districts brought technology to students at lower cost or without using school construction bonds.

Deasy insisted no wrongdoing had occurred and said he had sat out the formal bidding process. The troubled iPad initiative — with students accessing forbidden sites and officials misstating costs — enhanced a portrait of Deasy as the big-picture advocate who was too passionate, or distracted, to attend to details.

Many rank-and-file employees came to view him another way: as imperious and punitive, always demanding more from teachers and administrators even when budget cuts resulted in larger classes and fewer resources.

Nonetheless, he remained the darling of a community of philanthropists and proponents of a certain style of education reform that borrows heavily from the principles of private enterprise.

They applauded his push for a teacher evaluation system that incorporated student standardized test scores, and that he fired teachers identified as poor performers in greater numbers than before.

Deasy's path was made more difficult because he never had a solid majority on the Board of Education. His supporters tried, and failed, to elect newcomers who would give him broad latitude. Four pro-Deasy candidates lost over two election cycles, resulting in a board majority that would not unreservedly follow his lead.

Those officials also felt that Deasy ignored their directives and treated them dismissively. "It was clear that he thought he was the smartest person in the room," said one senior district official, a comment echoed by others.

And he wasn't the most patient, diplomatic or strategic leader, something that even Deasy has acknowledged.

Deasy threatened at least twice to leave the district. In the summer of 2013 the superintendent tried the tactic to prevent the elevation of Richard Vladovic to board president. The effort failed.

All the while, test scores continued to improve, as did graduation rates. By those two crucial measures, the superintendent, and students, appeared to be winning.

But for the board majority, Deasy had become an uncommunicative, ungovernable, somewhat detached leader. It didn't help that he became a target for the teachers union to rally against in its push for a better contract.

Instead of looking for ways to unite behind Deasy, board members — unhappy with their leader — began looking for reasons or justifications to push him aside.

The recent crises over technology programs — first the iPad and then the student records system — gave them a rationale they could, if necessary, defend in public.

The board had additional leverage over Deasy. His regular performance evaluation was set for next Tuesday. Anything less than a positive rating would place his reputation under a bigger cloud if he did not step aside.

For their part, board members began to see Cortines as an irresistible balm for a leadership crisis, sources said. He'd been in occasional touch since his retirement in 2011. At least three board members began to talk to him in the latter part of September, getting his advice and sounding out whether he might consider an interruption in his retirement.

Cortines initially said no. Then he said an official request would have to be made on behalf of the board.

That happened after Deasy filed his court declaration attacking L.A. Unified's scheduling practices.

Next, Cortines insisted on a unanimous vote.

"This is not about me," Cortines said in an interview. "This is about making a statement to the community that the superintendent, whoever it is, and the board are going to make every effort to work together."

Meanwhile, the board was negotiating more intensely with Deasy, who had retained an attorney.

Deasy received a few concessions, including an arrangement that keeps him on the payroll through the end of the year. The school board also agreed to a departure announcement that celebrated his accomplishments and indicated their confidence that Deasy would be exonerated of any wrongdoing related to the iPads-for-all program.

In 7 1/2 hours of closed meetings last Tuesday, the board reached its final terms with Deasy and gave Cortines a unanimous offer, which Cortines said he never expected to be possible.

"I might have had a different strategy for responding to them," he said with a laugh, "if I thought this would ever happen."


L.A. SCHOOL BOARD OKS PLAN TO RESOLVE JEFFERSON HIGH PROBLEMS
L.A. UNIFIED WILL SPEND $1.1 MILLION TO HELP STUDENTS WHO LOST INSTRUCTIONAL TIME AND WILL AUDIT OTHER HIGH SCHOOLS TO SEE IF THEIR STUDENTS HAD SCHEDULING PROBLEMS

By Howard Blume | LA Times | http://lat.ms/1FmhHON

Oct 14,2014 | 10:12PM :: The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a $1.1-million plan to provide a longer school day, additional classes and tutoring to Jefferson High students who lost instructional time as a result of widespread scheduling problems this semester.

Officials also announced that the Los Angeles Unified School District would audit other high schools to find additional students who might have been similarly shortchanged.

The controversy with the scheduling problems at Jefferson adds another layer to the intrigue surrounding L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, whose job evaluation is scheduled for next week.

A majority of school board members have signaled to insiders that they could support the departure of Deasy, either through a resignation or buyout. Earlier this month, the board authorized its legal staff to initiate discussions over a possible departure agreement.

His contract — and preparation for his evaluation — were on the agenda Tuesday for a closed-door meeting, along with other matters.

The board remained in closed session for six and a half hours, delaying the start of a public meeting. Members made no announcement upon convening into open session for several hours. They were expected to return to closed session for additional deliberation late Tuesday evening.

Some board members and other critics have faulted the superintendent for what happened when Jefferson opened this fall.

"We have to do better at this side of the table," said board member George McKenna, referring to senior staff, and, implicitly, to Deasy.

Deasy is out of town on a previously planned trip to South Korea. Before he left, he offered a sworn declaration on behalf of students suing over conditions at Jefferson.

Some board members have criticized Deasy for getting involved without clearing it and for focusing on the lawsuit rather than on doing more to address problems at Jefferson.



Hundreds of students had incomplete or incorrect schedules. Many lost two to three weeks of instruction waiting in the auditorium, and then many were programmed into schedules that still had mistakes. The result was that students fell behind in course work they needed to graduate or to complete college preparatory requirements.

The remedy will include extending the school day by 30 minutes. In addition, teachers will be paid for up to two hours per week to provide tutoring before and after school. Counselors will be freed from lunch and playground supervision, so they can provide more counseling. And new class sections will be offered to students to replace non-academic classes. These non-academic periods include students assigned to run errands for staff or to spend time off campus unsupervised.

Officials also insisted that conditions at Jefferson had been mostly dealt with even before last week's court order.

As of Tuesday, the district identified eight students who lacked classes they needed to graduate. Forty-three other students were improperly placed in courses they'd already passed, said Tommy Chang, a senior administrator.

The scheduling flaws were not unique to Jefferson, which is south of downtown. Many campuses also dealt with major hitches caused by a new student records system that was activated before it was ready.

Board members Tuesday criticized that rollout and asked the district's inspector general to broaden a probe into what went wrong.

The technology fiasco came at a bad time for Deasy, who already was under scrutiny for a districtwide iPad program for students. The inspector general also is looking into that project, and Deasy intends to launch a new bidding process.

The scheduling challenges at Jefferson were exacerbated by administrative turnover as well as by glaring errors in the first master schedule, officials acknowledged.

With the help of advocates, Jefferson students and teachers took their complaints to court, joining a lawsuit over non-academic classes that was filed in Alameda County.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. chastised L.A. Unified for allowing problems to persist and last week ordered the state to intervene. A state delegation came to Los Angeles for meetings and praised the proposed plan Tuesday.

Advocates insisted that the fixes don't go far enough and that too many students still could be forced to waste time taking non-academic classes or courses they'd already passed.

"Content-free classes and an education are an oxymoron," said attorney Mark Rosenbaum. "The state should ban these classes tomorrow."

Some students expressed ongoing concerns in public comments to the board.

"All that lost time adds up," senior Jason Magana said. "I will leave Jefferson High School with my diploma. But so many Jefferson students don't.


DEASY RESIGNS AND CHANDA IS STILL WAITING…

From the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) Weekly Update for the week of Oct 20th | http://bit.ly/JidN0H

►DEASY RESIGNS!

Oct 16, 2014 :: The Board of Education reached a termination agreement with Superintendent John Deasy. The interim superintendent will be Ramon C. Cortines who starts on Monday, October 20, 2014. We welcome back Mr. Cortines and look forward to commencing AALA’s regular meetings with him.

►CHANDA IS STILL WAITING: MiSiS’ IMPACT ON STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Oct 16, 2014 :: The District’s announcement to take immediate action and fund resources at Jefferson High School needed to happen and AALA welcomes the corrective move. However, AALA wonders why the administrative team supervising Jefferson didn’t act in a more timely and effective manner.

The Jefferson news clouds another alarming report that surfaced this week from the Office of the Independent Monitor on the impact of MiSiS on students with disabilities.

The independent monitor’s report shows that major problems still exist. Key findings include:

• 98% of the 201 schools that participated in the survey reported problems with MiSiS, with 57% reporting they used alternative methods for maintaining data
• 83% reported problems with identifying students with disabilities enrolled at their school
• • 69% reported varying degrees of problems with placement for students with disabilities
• • 69% reported varying problems with services for students with disabilities
• Nearly 56% did not participate in any training
• 35% indicated inadequate training
• Interface problems continue between MiSiS and Welligent

By way of background, it was in 1993 that the Chanda Smith class action lawsuit was filed to challenge the adequacy of supports received by Chanda Smith, an LAUSD special education student. As one of its 15 outcomes, the Modified Consent Decree (MCD) requires the District to build an integrated student data system to track all of its students through all grade levels and school sites. The “new” system was to replace 26 “legacy” (aka “obsolete”) student data systems. The new system was implemented at the start of this school year despite alarms about glitches in MiSiS and the lack of readiness for the system to be effective.

On the District’s MiSiS website it says:

“The beginning of a new school year is the only feasible time to implement this type of system, as a midyear transition from a legacy to a new system would cause an intolerable level of disruptions to instruction and operations.

While public attention has focused on schoolwide scheduling and other disruptive problems, we should keep in mind that MiSiS was also intended to remedy the District’s failure to identify and track students with special needs and provide instructional services to meet their needs. As a result of that failure, Chanda Smith entered 10th grade with 2nd and 3rd grade reading and math skills. After repeating 10th grade twice, Smith’s mother took action. The 1993 lawsuit found 21 areas of noncompliance by the District that included failure to identify, assess and serve students with disabilities (SWD), meet required timelines, offer designated instructional services and track, maintain and access records.

The rush to implement the imperfect technology of MiSiS just to bring closure to the MCD instead hit schools and students with a double whammy! In retrospect, it’s been 21 years since the Chanda Smith lawsuit. Wouldn’t the District have been better off to wait just one more year to genuinely refine MiSiS instead of foisting it upon schools before it was ready? It would have saved major disruption and disservice to students, as well as hours of additional labor for school-site administrators, counselors, teachers and other school personnel.


DEASY’S DEPARTURE PRESENTS OPPORTUNITY FOR LAUSD TO FOCUS ON EDUCATION

By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1sD4ydF

Posted: 10/18/14, 9:16 PM PDT | Updated: 10/19/14 :: In ousting an embattled superintendent, leaders of the nation’s second-largest school district can set aside their differences and focus instead on educating 650,000 students in Los Angeles.

While the departure of former Superintendent John Deasy marks another win in a battle to preserve traditional public schools — primarily centering on teacher tenure — now is no time to take a victory lap, said Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Unified’s school board, which has become more and more populated by union-backed members, is poised to make decisions even its most vocal opponents would support.

“This is their opportunity to show that in power, they too can be reformers,” said Sonenshein, adding that influential business and civic leaders will be watching closely when it comes to picking a new school superintendent.

In the meantime, Sonnenshein said, school board members have turned to a seasoned and politically savvy interim superintendent, Ramon Cortines, to run the district while they conduct a search for a replacement. No stranger to the district, Cortines has great “political antennae,” making him a go-to pick for districts that encounter leadership trouble.

School board member Tamar Galatzan, a frequent Deasy supporter and San Fernando Valley representative, said Cortines’ ability to handle complicated issues will come in handy.

“He has decades of experience and people skills that are legendary. That’s what we need right now,” Galatzan said.

With Cortines’ help, Galatzan said, she hopes the district and its stakeholders will be able to settle down, focus on the budget, learn the new Smarter Balance standardized testing and ensure that students obtain the education they need to attend state universities.

“That’s where all of our energy should be focused,” whether you’re a student, parent, teacher, classified employee, board member or superintendent, Galatzan said.

Board member Monica Ratliff, who is occasionally at odds with her fellow San Fernando Valley representative, also believes the school district will be served well under Cortines.

“I think the district is going to be able to move forward very successfully,” she said.

Cortines has already sought to open lines of communication with his elected bosses, Ratliff said, by sending them his calendar, which lists all of his appointments and previews his priorities for the first day of work on Monday.

“I think that transparency is going to be very helpful in terms of building consensuses and building collaboration,” Ratliff said.

The first two things on his agenda, Cortines said, will be unraveling the MiSiS computer mess and getting caught up on contract talks.

The district’s disastrous new computer software, MiSiS, continues to hamper educators, impairing their ability to perform tasks that range from taking attendance to reporting grades and generating college transcripts.

Meanwhile, talks with leaders of the 35,000-member teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, haven’t made any real progress in months. Union leadership is demanding a 10 percent pay raise this year alone and other improvements, such as smaller class sizes.

Regardless of the issue, Cortines said, he will look to the hardworking employees of LAUSD for solutions

“The district needs to use the talent at schools and the people who are there to help solve the problems,” Cortines said. “The superintendent alone cannot do it.”

The teachers union demands are part of a campaign called “Schools LA Students Deserve,” which also aims to rally members and parents in case of a strike.

“That continues and we do look forward to meeting with Mr. Cortines, as well as continuing to meet with school board members around the Schools LA Students Deserve,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said.


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
Deasy blames LA school district politics for blocking 'reforms' | http://bit.ly/w0MlFb

Sandy Banks: DEASY'S EXIT LEAVES UNFINISHED WORK AT LAUSD | http://bit.ly/1rlO2Ls

TWO THOUGHTS WORTH FAR MORE THAN 2¢ RE: THURSDAY’S TRANSITION | http://bit.ly/1081pcs

LAUSD/Deasy Separation Agreement states categorically that it is 7 pages long. Only 6 pages have been made public.| http://bit.ly/1sAtJ0j

UPDATE: TRANSCRIPT OF NPR EXIT INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DEASY :"It was a historic period of time unlike any other " | http://bit.ly/1CytSE6

On the day Apple unveils a new iPad Air, Time Magazine explains: HOW THE iPAD HELPED BRING DOWN L.A. SCHOOLS CHIEF | http://bit.ly/11FHMcj

Which Way, L.A.?: JOHN DEASY STEPS DOWN FROM L.A. UNIFIED | http://bit.ly/1FdE8Wx

THE DEASY DENOUEMENT: The national media [ NY Times/AP-Wash Post/EdWeek] http://bit.ly/1yKDXjQ

DEASY’S RESIGNATION LETTER: “I am overwhelmed with pride with what this administration has accomplished….” | http://bit.ly/1tzQtkM

LAUSD/DEASY SEPARATION ACCORD “Deasy has determined to resign” meets “there is various pending+threatened litigation” http://bit.ly/1yKpLYb

THE DEASY DENOUEMENT: Four stories from Thursday | http://bit.ly/1xZ5Elz

Teachers are "bad"/parents "uncaring"/students "failures" but John Deasy is only 'beleaguered"? It seems to be his new honorific. Like "Dr."

LAUSafterD: The LA Times reports that Cortines is back for a third try.

L.A. school board in closed session more than 5 hours so far. Several topics, including the evaluation & future of Supt. John Deasy.

INDEPENDENT MONITOR’S REPORT RE: THE SPECIAL ED MODIFIED CONSENT DEGREE ON MiSiS: "Our conclusion is that this is fundamentally an organizational management problem, not a technical problem." | http://fw.to/ij711qH


EVENTS: Coming up next week...


*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
http://www.laschools.org/bond/
Phone: 213-241-5183
____________________________________________________
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
http://www.laschools.org/happenings/
Phone: 213-241.8700


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
Marguerite.LaMotte@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at mayor@lacity.org • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.


Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends



4LAKids: Sunday 12•Oct•2014 Columbus Day
In This Issue:
 •  Sunday’s Page 1 Headline MiSiS Story: LAUSD’s STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM BECOMES A TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTER – and a quick fix is unlikely + more than 2¢
 •  DEFINITION OF STRANGE: JOHN DEASY LAUDS RULING CONFIRMING HIS FAILURES
 •  JUDGE ORDERS STATE TO FIX JEFFERSON HIGH SCHEDULING ISSUES + Highlights and a link to the ruling
 •  Sandy Banks: DEASY’S INACTION ON JEFFERSON HIGH FIASCO IS SHOCKING
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?


Featured Links:
 •  Give the gift of a 4LAKids Subscription to a friend or colleague!
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
 •  4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
After all the sturm und drang, after the attempted wit and solid investigative journalism, the accusations and denials, the framing+spin; after sworn testimony and letters-to-the-court and depositions+evidence …after the detailed stories outlining All Three of the Big Three: Waste, Fraud and Abuse – a single letter writer spells it out in the Letters section of Sunday’s LA Times: “We need honest and competent leadership to improve and preserve our city's public education system.”

Honest+Competent. Is that too much to ask?
________

A prediction has been made, a soothsayer has spoken:

“He will be gone by November first.”


So it was said and so it is written. November first.
El dia de los Muertos. How appropriate.

If one were writing theater reviews one could say: “You can cut the tension with a knife!” And go on about the high drama and the palpable inevitability of The Fall.

Calvinists could say it is A Fall From Grace – predestination undone – and hands could be wrung about How Are the Mighty Fallen. Götterdämmerung at Bayreuth, cue the fat lady. Tragedians could seek the Fatal Flaw. Was it his urgency? His hubris? His flat top or hawkish profile? Where are Bill or Eli or Arne when he needs them? One can almost sense the groundlings fall silent in the Old Globe as the soliloquy begins. Was it Richard Burbage who first spoke the lines: “Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York?”

Made summer? Made slumber!

Give me a break.

Sorry elaborate conspiracy theorists and L.A. Noir fans, but this is third rate melodrama unworthy of a middle school production …and in its final scenes the plot and the scenery and the script are unraveling faster than the local baseball franchises. The lead actor is off on a junket to Korea and a judge from Alameda County is closing the show early. It’s another failed Southern California folly laced with fruits, nuts and flakes – offered up while the lesser players try to remember their parts. Last year the October surprise was tragicomedy. This year it’s farce; which research (Wikipedia) says is ‘often highly incomprehensible plot-wise (due to the many plot twists and random events that occur), but viewers are encouraged not to try to follow the plot in order to avoid becoming confused and overwhelmed’ with doors opening and closing and pratfalls and slapstick. This isn’t Moliere or even Laurel+Hardy. Think Three Stooges …but not very hard.

No Bill or Eli. Ain’t gonna be no deus ex machina.

Götterdämmerung maybe, but at Baywatch.

If you signed up for the subscription package, watch this space as we announce the next production. There will certainly be some new casting, but most of the familiar players will be back to continue whatever the next production will be in repertoire. The show must go on, the students and their parents have signed up for thirteen years …and the faculty and staff hope to make a career of it.

Will it be a hip new production with sophisticated dialog and novel situations? A happy ending? A revival of an old workhorse? Comedy? Tragedy? Farce? Perhaps a Variety Show? Hopefully it’s not a zombie play. Maybe the whole thing was a ‘Bobby Ewing in the Shower’ dream?

Do I end on Shakespeare and Henry VIII?
'Tis ten to one this play can never please
All that are here: some come to take their ease,
And sleep an act or two; but those, we fear,
We have frighted with our trumpets; so, 'tis clear,
They'll say 'tis naught: others, to hear the city
Abused extremely, and to cry 'That's witty!'
Which we have not done neither: that, I fear,
All the expected good we're like to hear
For this play at this time, is only in
The merciful construction of good women;
For such a one we show'd 'em: if they smile,
And say 'twill do, I know, within a while
All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap,
If they hold when their ladies bid 'em clap.

…or ELP?
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind a glass is a real blade of grass
be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


Sunday’s Page 1 Headline MiSiS Story: LAUSD’s STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM BECOMES A TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTER – and a quick fix is unlikely + more than 2¢
By Abby Sewell | L.A. Times | http://lat.ms/1xF2tiY


Oct 11, 2014 5:41 PM :: With a few taps on a computer keyboard, a student's entire school history from kindergarten to high school graduation was supposed to show up on the screen. That perfect score on a third-grade spelling test, that trip to the principal's office for talking too much in class, that day of ditching math as a senior.

The computer software was supposed to help school officials schedule the classes a student needed to earn a diploma or attend college and to allow parents to track their children's grades and attendance.


“ The whole system needs to work. Having an integrated system allows someone to see the big picture. ”
Robert M. Myers, an attorney for the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit

Instead, the Los Angeles Unified School District's student information system, which has cost more than $130 million, has become a technological disaster. The system made its debut this semester and promptly overloaded the district's database servers, requiring an emergency re-engineering. In the days and weeks that followed, many teachers were unable to enter grades or attendance or even figure out which students were enrolled in class.

Because of scheduling blunders partly stemming from the new system, students at Jefferson High School sat in the auditorium for weeks waiting to be assigned classes. A judge became so alarmed he ordered state education officials to intervene.

But a quick fix to the problems plaguing the system is unlikely. More than 600 fixes or enhancements are needed in the software, and there are "data quality and integrity issues" that include grades, assignments and even students disappearing from the system, Supt. John Deasy acknowledged last week in a letter. It could take a year to work out kinks in the system just to enter grades, he said.

The district agreed to implement the student information system as a result of a federal class-action lawsuit two decades ago. The suit alleged that LAUSD violated special education students' rights, in part, by keeping such disorganized records that it sometimes lost track of those students' needs.

As part of a consent decree still overseen by a court-appointed monitor, the district promised to create a computer database that would track comprehensive information on every student in the district.

"The whole system needs to work," said Robert M. Myers, an attorney for the lawsuit's plaintiffs. "Having an integrated system allows someone to see the big picture."

Among the immediate concerns with the system is that seniors are not being scheduled for the classes they need to prepare for college and might not obtain accurate transcripts in time to apply.

On Monday, the monitor is expected to release a report assessing the district's progress in implementing the system.

The project has had a long and tortured history.



Armani Richards, 17, a senior at Jefferson High School, is one of hundreds of students who could not get into the classes they need due to a malfunctioning computer system. A judge has ruled the state must intervene to fix the scheduling issues. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
In 2003, the district signed a contract with Virginia-based Maximus Inc. to build most of the key components of the Integrated Student Information System, or ISIS. It was supposed to be finished in 2007.

The district spent $112 million building that system, but most of it was never put into use. Instead, after multiple delays and false starts, the project fell apart amid rancor and lawsuits against the vendors hired to build it.

In 2008, Maximus sold its education software division to another company, Harris Education Consulting. The district later complained in court filings that both companies "not only consistently failed to meet deadlines, they also delivered shoddy software releases that are plagued with major defects or bugs." Former project managers for the district said in interviews with The Times that in many cases, the companies did not test the software before delivering it to the district.

The companies acknowledged that there had been problems but said that was to be expected with such an ambitious project. They complained in court filings that "internal dysfunction" in the district, including frequent turnover in administrators and staff, led to "constantly changing requirements" that prevented the work from getting done.

The system was supposed to launch in late 2010, but the district put it on hold, saying too many bugs showed up in testing. The district stopped paying most of Harris' bills and began to look for other ways to complete the project.

One option the district considered was software that had been jointly developed by Microsoft and the Fresno Unified School District.

In the spring of 2011, the ISIS and Fresno systems were tested side by side. The difference was dramatic: the Fresno system, known as ATLAS, succeeded at about 20% of the tasks, while the ISIS software's success rate was 82%. Based on that, the district opted to keep working with Harris.


But in late 2012, the district changed course. Deasy and Ron Chandler, the district's Internet technology officer, told the court-appointed monitor that they wanted to use the Fresno code to develop their own system in-house. They cited continuing delays and design flaws in the ISIS system.

Chandler said the ATLAS software had made advances since the initial testing and could now be adapted to meet Los Angeles' needs. He said the new system would be easier to work on and cheaper to maintain because the district would own the code, which had been donated by Fresno. He estimated the move would reduce the district's annual maintenance costs by more than $1 million.

Then-monitor Frederick Weintraub — who died in May — eventually signed off on the change in direction but expressed reservations that the district was "proposing significant changes" at a time when it finally appeared to be on track to meet the consent decree requirements.

The district agreed to spend an additional $29 million building that system.

In the meantime, the district sued its former vendors, Maximus and Harris. The district asserted that not only was the software late and faulty, the contract with Harris was invalid and the company should pay back $12 million.

A panel of arbitrators found the Harris contract was valid, the vendors had delivered the software as required and "some of the problems the District complains about were caused or contributed to by the District itself." The arbitrators ordered the district to pay $10 million to Harris, which a Superior Court judge later reduced to $6 million.

The case was settled last month on appeal, with Los Angeles Unified agreeing to pay Harris $3.75 million. The district had spent an additional $2.3 million on outside attorneys.

Despite its rocky rollout, district officials have defended the new software system, known as My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS. Chandler likened the changeover in student information systems to a heart transplant. He acknowledged that he knew the rollout would be "messy" but said the scale of the issues that cropped up during the first week of school had taken his team by surprise.

Chandler said that once the problems are ironed out, the system will free the district from the consent decree and provide a valuable tool for tracking and boosting student success.

"There will be information on every student across the life cycle of the student," he said. "We'll know where they are and who they are and how they perform."

While district Internet technology staffers work to fix the problems, school officials have resorted to work-arounds, including tracking grades and attendance the old-fashioned way: with paper and pens.


School board member Tamar Galatzan, who called for an audit of the MISIS rollout by the district's inspector general, said everyone agrees on the need for a centralized student record system.

"MISIS is probably that system," she said. "But it might take us a little longer than we had expected or hoped to get there."
________________

●● LA TIMES LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FOR SUNDAY OCT 12 | http://lat.ms/1vj9zeY
LESSON OF JEFFERSON HIGH: STUDENTS NEED GOOD TEACHERS, SMALL CLASSES

To the editor: The scheduling problems at Jefferson High School require state intervention. It isn't surprising that bureaucratic decisions, inadequate funding, overcrowding, emphasis on testing over content and other factors contribute to poor school performance. Yet the focus for blame is usually on the teachers. ("Judge orders state to fix Jefferson High scheduling issues," Oct. 8)

The warehousing of students at Jefferson is a good example of the overall lack of comprehensive understanding of what it takes for students to receive a good education. For instance, an iPad in every student's hand will never trump a teacher with small, manageable classes and some creative freedom.

Marty Wilson, Whittier

..

To the editor: What am I missing here? The mess at Jefferson High was caused by the failed rollout of the Los Angeles Unified School District's new computer system, which is still causing problems today.

Wasn't Supt. John Deasy responsible for anything? No; he joins the lawsuit over the situation at Jefferson High.

Where does the buck stop?

Marc Pollard, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: Some readers will be shocked by the report that students have been waiting weeks for class assignments and instruction at Jefferson High due to the bureaucratic bungling of the new system implemented by LAUSD hierarchy.

I am not. As a retired 23-year veteran LAUSD high school teacher, I am relieved to see it noticed by the state and reported in The Times. Students are routinely ignored and inconvenienced by mandated district policies while upper administrators schedule adorable photo ops, invent complicated new acronyms and purchase expensive new equipment and programs.

We need honest and competent leadership to improve and preserve our city's public education system and stop taxpayers' money from being wasted on diploma mills and payouts for failed superintendents.

Teresa Nield, West Hills


DEFINITION OF STRANGE: JOHN DEASY LAUDS RULING CONFIRMING HIS FAILURES

By Karin Klein / LA Times Education Editorialist | http://lat.ms/1uYPWat

10/11/2014 || Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy weighed in on behalf of a lawsuit against the state, contending rightly that students were unconstitutionally assigned to do-nothing classes instead of the academic courses they needed. His action would be wholly appropriate if the state ran the schools where this was happening. But as it happens Deasy runs those schools. Or at least, he was supposed to..

“I can’t think of a better gift to give this school district than to expose this indefensible practice,” he said in a declaration in support of the lawsuit.

The indefensible practice of his not having taken steps to resolve the problem? So was this an admission of incompetence? A request for the state to take over schools that he and the school board could not manage properly?

I called Deasy to ask these questions last week before a judge ruled that the state of California had to step in and get the situation ironed out at Jefferson High School. A combination of a shortage of teachers and the fouled-up student tracking at scheduling system that Deasy oversaw had led to what amounted to an educational crisis.

Deasy’s responses during our conversation covered a range of excuses. The problem was the school board — even though he conceded he hadn’t raised this with the board, offered suggestions to them or asked for guidance. But he was concerned that they would not do what was needed to fix the problem. Seems to me that not talking to them is a guaranteed way to make sure they can’t fix the problem.

It was local autonomy for schools that was to blame, he said, even though Deasy is one of the biggest proponents of that autonomy.

It was lack of funding, even though the district got a big increase in funding this year but chose to spend the money on other items. (No, not iPads — bond money cannot be used to increase the number of teachers.)

Of course the additional funding doesn’t restore the schools to pre-recession levels. Things are still far too tight. But the district beefed up many other programs while leaving students in an untenable predicament at various high schools, not just Jefferson. It's not that the district didn't spend money in important things. But there is simply nothing more basic than teaching students. Teaching them, not assigning them to sit in the auditorium or worse yet, go home for a period or two.

Under a judge’s ruling last week, the state is supposed to make sure that L.A. Unified toes the line. The state is supposed to offer guidance, if needed, support and, if the district doesn’t have enough money, provide additional funding.

After the ruling, Deasy certainly sounded as though money was what he expected. "We look forward to meeting state officials to explain the new resources needed," he said. How about explaining how you left students high and dry while you’re at it?

That's not precisely how things are working out. Teachers have come up with useful proposals and, reportedly, the district has hammered out a plan to lengthen the school day. So far, the state is saying that the "new resources" will be coming from the district, not the state.

And that sounds about right. California recently moved to a fairer funding system under which school districts are given more autonomy over how they spend their money. If L.A. Unified doesn’t know how to spend the money where it’s most needed, then it might have to have expenditures dictated to it; the state can't just keep giving more money to districts that aren't covering the basics.

Deasy also blames the bell schedules at some schools for the problem, saying that under the teachers’ contract, individual schools get to set their own schedules. Some schedules are more conducive to offering adequate courses than others.

Deasy wants to change this in the contract, and he’s not necessarily wrong. It’s reasonable for districts to decide how many class periods their students need each day. But Deasy is the one who has pushed hard to empower schools to make more of their own decisions. Why not say to them: Look, if you can get all the students all their necessary coursework with whatever bell schedule you have, more power to you. But whatever you do, they have to have the classes.

And if they don’t, do whatever is called for under the local-autonomy plan — which should mean depriving them of some of their autonomy. The deal is supposed to be, more independence for better performance.

But Deasy wasn’t sure he could do that. Which raises the question: If there’s no real accountability under the autonomy plan, why is the district bothering with it?

Worst of all, while Deasy has been busy supporting the lawsuit, what he wasn’t busy doing was improving the situation for the district’s students. His reaction to the judge’s ruling sounded as though he had won a victory. Yet, though the ruling was against the state, the judge reserved perhaps his harshest words for Deasy, saying he wasn't acknowledging his responsibilities for knowing about Jefferson’s problems and hadn’t thought of a way to fix them, much less actually taken action.

This is a victory? For whom? The students who were enrolled in Jefferson’s sham courses will see improvement now, but a real victory would have been for Deasy to do something about this starting back in August. Two months into the school year, it will be a miracle if students catch up, even with extra tutoring. It will be interesting to see how this is explained as a victory to the school board when it looks at the improvement plan on Tuesday


JUDGE ORDERS STATE TO FIX JEFFERSON HIGH SCHEDULING ISSUES + Highlights and a link to the ruling
By Howard Blume & Ruben Vives | LA Times |http://lat.ms/ZROJq1

Oct. 8, 2014 | 9:50 PM :: For weeks, Armani Richards sat in the Jefferson High School auditorium waiting to be assigned classes for his senior year. The student body president wanted to enroll in subjects that would help him pursue a career in chemistry or computer science.

But a malfunctioning computer records system meant that Richards and hundreds of other students weren't getting the classes they needed. Some were sent to overbooked classrooms or were given the same course multiple times a day. Others were assigned to "service" periods where they did nothing at all. Still others were sent home.

"Everything had gone so wrong," Richards, 17, said.

On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge ordered state education officials to fix the problem at Jefferson High immediately, ruling that students were being deprived of their right to an education.

Alameda County Judge George Hernandez Jr. ruled that students "have suffered and continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations" as the "direct result of Jefferson's failure to provide the students with appropriate course schedules."

The scheduling blunders affected honors students as well as those behind in credits and at risk of not graduating. Problems at the school continue even though the academic year began nearly two months ago, according to sworn declarations reviewed by the court.

Student schedules must be corrected and additional instructional time provided as necessary, Hernandez wrote in his 14-page decision. He said the state must ensure that "there are adequate teachers, classrooms, seats, desks and instructional materials and any other resources needed."

The state also must determine whether the Los Angeles Unified School District has the resources to correct the problems. If it doesn't, he said, the state must fill in any gaps "financial or otherwise."

The ruling was a rebuke both to L.A. Unified — for mishandling the situation at Jefferson — and the state, for its unwillingness to get involved.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy had offered a declaration in support of Jefferson students last week and, on Wednesday, hailed the ruling.

"This is another victory for youth in challenging circumstances," he said in a statement. "We look forward to meeting state officials to explain the new resources needed."

The judge, however, did not spare Deasy or the Board of Education from criticism.

What this judge is saying is that the state of California -- and its education officials -- cannot turn its back on the students of Jefferson.... - Mark Rosenbaum, Public Counsel director

"Jefferson's scheduling issues and the resulting chaos have been widely publicized and communicated," the judge wrote. Despite the public attention, he said, "scheduling problems still persist and, more importantly, there is no evidence of any organized effort to help those students who have been assigned to courses several weeks into the semester to catch up to their peers."

The judge also chided Deasy, saying "he does not admit to knowing" about Jefferson's scheduling problems "or describe any actual or anticipated efforts by LAUSD to remedy them."

Deasy initially downplayed difficulties with the new records system across the district, but then assigned a team of senior administrators to address them. He did not recount these measures in his declaration to the court.

The judge's order applied to the state because L.A. Unified is not party to the lawsuit, which was filed in Alameda County. The underlying litigation is about whether the state should end or limit non-academic course work that hinders students from achieving their academic goals.

"What this judge is saying is that the state of California — and its education officials — cannot turn its back on the students of Jefferson by forcing them to enroll in sham courses and calling that an education," said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel, which pursued the case along with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.

State education officials had argued in court that course schedules and content were a local matter over which the state should not exercise authority. But a top official said the state would comply with the order.

"The department believes strongly that every child should have the classes he or she needs to graduate from high school," said state Chief Deputy Supt. Richard Zeiger. "This is a position I know we share with Los Angeles school officials."

Jefferson was not originally named in the lawsuit, although two other L.A. Unified schools had been cited. Attorneys added Jefferson and Dorsey High after problems exploded with the start-up of the new districtwide student records system.

School district board member Steve Zimmer said he saw the court order as an opportunity to work with the state to resolve "a serious problem."

Some board members were bothered that Deasy chose to participate in the litigation without first discussing it with them. The board is scheduled to conduct Deasy's annual performance evaluation on Oct. 21, and for weeks there's been speculation that the superintendent may quit or be forced out.

Monica Ratliff, another board member, said she was disappointed in Deasy's lack of leadership on the matter. "I find it hard to fathom that our superintendent would know of these issues and need a court order to fix them," she said.

The judge ordered the state to meet with Deasy right away, but that may not be possible. Deasy was scheduled to leave early Thursday for a long-planned trip to South Korea. Deasy said he would be representing L.A. Unified, visiting schools and meeting with government officials.
_________________

“The harms already suffered are severe and pervasive; there is no evidence of an imminent solution.”
HIGHLIGHTS+LOWLIGHTS FROM THE CRUZ V. CA. RESTRAINING ORDER


• “LAUSD's superintendent, though ostensibly aware of these issues for more than a month is silent as whether LAUSD intends to take any steps to remedy these problems.”
• “Although Jefferson’s scheduling issues and the resulting chaos have been widely publicized and communicated to the Los Angeles School Board and Dr. John Deasey (the LAUSD Superintendent) in at least early September, scheduling problems still persist and, more importantly, there is no evidence of any organized effort to help those students who have been assigned to courses several weeks into the semester to catch up to their peers.”
• “Further, while Dr. Deasey expresses appropriate outrage regarding the assignment of empty, contentless “courses” to students, particularly those who are not on track to graduate or meet college eligibility requirements, he does not admit to knowing about Jefferson’s scheduling problems approximately one month ago or describe any actual or anticipated efforts by LAUSD to remedy them.”
• “From all of the foregoing, the court reasonably infers that neither the Los Angeles Unified School District nor Jefferson Senior High School are able and willing to take immediate and substantial steps to remedy this shocking loss of instructional time.”
• “Even those students who received timely class schedules are experiencing chaotic classrooms with constantly changing students, which has caused teachers to adjust their expectations and even hold off teaching some materials until schedules are more settled. Teachers have been required to review and re-review prior material. Some anticipate having to cut out significant instructional units later in the year.”
• “Thus, the failure to timely provide appropriate class schedules, and the ensuing chaos and disruption, has inflicted a variety of harms on a significant number of Jefferson students, few, if any, of whom have the resources needed to successfully recover from setbacks of this kind.'”
• Jeannie Oakes, an expert with more than 30 years of work in the education field, including in California. She states, “In more than 30 years of work in this field, I have encountered nothing that compares with the deprivations of educational opportunity being visited upon these students.”
• “LAUSD’s protracted and inexplicable inaction, coupled with the Superintendent’s statement welcoming a court order, suggest that LAUSD needs State intervention to adequately address the deprivations that have occurred.”
• “Put bluntly, the harms already suffered are severe and pervasive; there is no evidence of an imminent solution; Defendants disclaim their constitutional responsibilities; and the harm to students (who are among the State’s most challenged) is compounding daily.”
• “Defendants’ argument that there is an existing state policy and plan recently set into motion promoting “local control” was squarely rejected by Butt as a justification for depriving students of their fundamental right to a basically equivalent education.
• “Educational policy of local autonomy and accountability is not sufficiently compelling to justify extreme local deprivation.”


CRUZ vs. CALIFORNIA TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER



Sandy Banks: DEASY’S INACTION ON JEFFERSON HIGH FIASCO IS SHOCKING

By Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/1nhr50d

11 October, 2014 | John Deasy notched what he considers a win this week, when an Oakland judge ordered state education officials to rescue students trapped in chaos and dysfunction at Jefferson High in South Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Unified superintendent called the ruling a "victory for youth in challenging circumstances."

What Deasy didn't say is that those circumstances have been made considerably more challenging by his inaction and his district's ineptitude.

Jefferson was thrown into turmoil in August by the failure of a new computerized system the district relied upon to schedule the school's 1,500 students. Hundreds of students have gone without schedules, been assigned to courses they've already taken or been locked out of classes they need for graduation.

Eight weeks into the semester, their schedules are loaded with space-fillers — periods labeled Service, Adult Class or Home, that offer no instruction and waste the time of teenagers already at risk of falling academically behind.

Those "content-less" classes are the target of a Northern California lawsuit alleging the state has ignored its obligation to ensure that all students have access to an adequate education.

Jefferson became a focal point because its troubles illustrate the issues at stake: Students hanging out in the auditorium or performing clerical tasks, or simply being assigned to go home because their schools don't have the will, the resources or the leadership to engage and educate them.

"We have kids at Jefferson with four of those classes in a day," said Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel, the pro bono law firm that, along with the ACLU, is asking state officials to correct conditions that deprive the students of their constitutional right to an adequate education.

The case won't be resolved for months, but after hearing the stories of students, counselors and teachers at Jefferson, Judge George Hernandez deemed the school's problems so outrageous, he ordered immediate fixes — and laid the blame squarely on Los Angeles Unified officials.

"There is no evidence of any organized effort to help those students," Hernandez's ruling declared. Deasy "expresses appropriate outrage," but doesn't seem to have done anything "to remedy this shocking loss of instructional time."

That's what is shocking to me.

This is the same superintendent who fired a substitute teacher on the spot because he felt she was wasting instructional time by having 12th-graders copy a list of classroom rules into composition books.

Yet he's allowed hundreds of students in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods to waste hours of instructional time every day for almost two months.

And when outsiders finally shine a spotlight on the problem, Deasy is on the sidelines applauding.

::

I'd like to ask Deasy to explain his hands-off stance, but he left this week for a tour of schools in South Korea.

I suspect, from past experience, he'd blame the teachers' union.

Deasy told my colleague Howard Blume that he's been trying to eliminate "non-academic periods" at district schools, but the union has resisted. If that's true, it still doesn't excuse Deasy's lack of knowledge or concern about the depth of Jefferson's problems — which one national education expert told the judge are "shocking, unprecedented and unacceptable."

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl says Deasy's trying to pass the buck. "The union's role in that is 'zero' and he's never come to us," he said. "Clearly what happened is he made an edict that was not implemented and not followed up."

Follow-up seems to be an administrative shortcoming. Even the judge was baffled by L.A. Unified's "protracted and inexplicable inaction" as Jefferson's problems dragged on.

These are kids who desperately want to go to college and have nothing to do. - Mark Rosenbaum, of Public Counsel

The trial documents point to problems that go beyond a faulty computer program or one-time scheduling glitch: Administrative turnover, teacher burnout and student transiency make it hard for schools like Jefferson to achieve stability. Needs are high and resources spread thin. School becomes a sort of triage system, tilted toward remedial classes and littered with obstacles for high-achieving students.

"These are kids who desperately want to go to college and have nothing to do," attorney Rosenbaum said. "It's like you're asking for the moon if you ask for an art class, an academic decathlon class, a literacy class."

::

Jefferson's faculty met on Thursday and came up with a list of remedies, including a longer school day, more teachers and a new slate of college-prep classes. We don't know what district officials are proposing because the boss is gone.

The judge has given state officials a tall order and a short leash.

They are to come up with a plan by Tuesday's School Board meeting that gets students out of meaningless classes and into appropriate courses, provides help for those who enrolled in classes so late in the semester that they are far behind, and makes sure there are enough teachers, classrooms and supplies to accomplish that.

That sounds to me like it will require magic.

Rosenbaum was a bit more optimistic. Getting the state involved and an outraged judge on the job makes it more likely that efforts will continue after the headlines stop.

"If you're an adult, you get an F in this case," he said. That's because "everybody's looking for a place to point their finger instead of doing whatever it takes to help these kids.

"Now we put you in a room and don't let you come out until you find a solution. We will do whatever it takes to make sure every kid here gets the same education as the kid in Beverly Hills."


HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
PEARSON'S DOMINANCE OF TEXTBOOK MARKET UNDER EXAMINATION: RENEWAL OF A KEY CONTRACT WILL BE A STERN TEST FOR THE PUBLISHER | http://bit.ly/1xGGHLJ

●●AND NOW FOR SOMETHING TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE: The British headline writer’s cheek (above) in incorporating ‘examination’ and ‘test’ is par for the course for the right side of the pond. I don’t know if you recall this bit of S+M kink artwork: http://bit.ly/1vZ6Nsg (it's burned into my psyche - ruining my life!) …but the preceding headline’s ‘stern’ and ‘dominance’ has a bit of the Monty Python “hint-hint/nudge-nudge/say-no-more” about it – especially when you read on about Dame Marjorie and our Dr. John – and remember her gushing e-mails: “My mind was racing all weekend, and I was so impressed by your intelligent and committed and brave hold on the moving parts of the opportunity. I really can’t wait to work with you…”
____________

LAUSD OFFICIALS DISCUSS CLASS SCHEDULING PROBLEMS AT JEFFERSON HIGH | http://bit.ly/1s6r2Uf

MiSiS: LAUSD’s STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM BECOMES A TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTER | http://bit.ly/118gET7

LATimes: While Deasy has been busy supporting the lawsuit, what he wasn’t busy doing was improving the situation for the district’s students

DEFINITION OF STRANGE: John Deasy lauds ruling confirming his failures | http://bit.ly/116Cy9k

LAUSD ASKS JUDGE TO REVEAL IMMIGRATION STATUS OF MIRAMONTE VICTIMS | http://bit.ly/1smVv23

The spin stops here: L.A. UNIFIED STATEMENT ON JEFFERSON SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL | http://bit.ly/1vV9JI1

More spin than the teacups at Disneyland: STATEMENT FROM LAUSD SUPT. DEASY REGARDING CRUZ vs. STATE OF CALIFORNIA | http://bit.ly/1v95aem

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: the full restraining order re the MiSiS Crisis at LAUSD's Jefferson High in Cruz v. CA. | http://bit.ly/1o1k6cC
0 replies

THE MiSiS CRISIS ADJUDICATED: “A maddening degree of mismanagement from the school and the District.” | http://bit.ly/1o1k6cC

JUDGE ORDERS STATE TO FIX JEFFERSON HIGH SCHEDULING ISSUES http://bit.ly/Zfi4tm

DEASY’S IN KOREA, THE STATE IS TAKING OVER JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL …AND THE iPADS ARE GOING HOME | http://bit.ly/1vPJv81

DEASY’S ON THE AGENDA AGAIN …BUT THE BOARD WON’T VOTE :: 2 tweets + 2¢ |

LAUSD BOARD CONTROLS MILLIONS IN DISCRETIONARY BOND MONEY: Spends are rarely, if ever, debated by the school board | http://bit.ly/1o0fa7G

A BETTER WAY TO IMPROVE STUDENT LEARNING: MORE RECESS! Finns have 15 min break after every 45 min class. @pasi_sahlberg | http://nyti.ms/1D534gT

The MiSiS Crisis: CALIFORNIA JUDGE ASKED TO INTERCEDE IN JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULE | http://bit.ly/1pQmxd2

StudentsFirst: Michelle Rhee is " leaving a trail of disappointment and disillusionment in her wake." | . http://bit.ly/1qhrpar

The wait for Superman is over?: StudentsFirst PICKS WALTON FOUNDATION ADVISOR AS NEW PRESIDENT | http://bit.ly/1qhrpar

Letters to the editor: WHAT TO DO WITH LAUSD SUPT. DEASY | http://bit.ly/10K3MSW

L.A. SCHOOL BOARD, DEASY AGAIN AT ODDS …this time over his involvement in lawsuit | http://bit.ly/1s9na6v

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE VERGARA RULING by Carl Cohn | http://bit.ly/1vKFsLb

GETTY MUSEUM PICKS BARBARA KRUGER FOR LAUSD ARTS PROGRAM | http://bit.ly/1BKsSwa

You’d think the ©orporate ®eformers would learn to avoid tech that needs to be spelled with a lower-case ‘i’. | http://bit.ly/1xiMNla

WHY DIDN’T LAUSD PERFORM A TECH REVIEW BEFORE iPAD/MiSiS PURCHASES? | http://bit.ly/1xiMNla

THE GREAT CHARTER SCHOOL RIP-OFF: Fraud, financial mismanagement, lousy results. Reports highlight awful charters | http://bit.ly/1s3asWI

Bill Clinton: If charter schools don't OUTPERFORM the public model, they shouldn't get their charter renewed. http://huff.to/1nWjqoS

The question is: Does Hillary Clinton agree with Bill's understanding of 'the original charter school bargain'? | http://huff.to/1nWjqoS


EVENTS: Coming up next week...
►REGULAR BOARD MEETING - OCTOBER 14, 2014 - 10:00 A.M. - INCLUDING CLOSED SESSION ITEMS
Start: 10/14/2014 10:00 am Agenda: http://bit.ly/11a6r8u
Closed Session Agenda includes:
▲Cruz, Jessy, et al., v. State of California, et al.-Alameda Superior Court Case No. RG 14727139
PERSONNEL (Government Code § 54957) EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINE/DISMISSAL/RELEASE
▲PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT/APPOINTMENT: General Superintendent of Schools
▲EMPLOYEE EVALUATION:
• General Superintendent of Schools
• General Counsel
• Inspector General

►REGULAR BOARD MEETING - OCTOBER 14, 2014 - 1:00 P.M.
Start: 10/14/2014 1:00 pm Agenda: http://bit.ly/11a6NMo
Lengthy agenda includes :
• MiSiS Update from the Office of the Superintendent
• Motion to make public the Inspector General’s Report on the investigation of the Apple/Pearson contract

*Dates and times subject to change. Check the links for agenda updates!
________________________________________
• SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
http://www.laschools.org/bond/
Phone: 213-241-5183
____________________________________________________
• LAUSD FACILITIES COMMUNITY OUTREACH CALENDAR:
http://www.laschools.org/happenings/
Phone: 213-241.8700


• LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION & COMMITTEES MEETING CALENDAR



What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member:
Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net • 213-241-6386
Monica.Garcia@lausd.net • 213-241-6180
Bennett.Kayser@lausd.net • 213-241-5555
George.McKenna@lausd.net • 213-241-6382
Monica.Ratliff@lausd.net • 213-241-6388
Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net • 213-241-6385
Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: http://bit.ly/dqFdq2 • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at mayor@lacity.org • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail: http://www.govmail.ca.gov/
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.


Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?




Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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