FROM Steve Zimmer
Melvoin v. Zimmer for LA School Board District 4 A school board race in West LA is on track to be the most expensive school board race in the nation. More than $5 million has been poured into the contest. Most of it is outside money. Some of it comes from big-name donors like Eli Broad. This race has become a stand-in for the charter versus traditional school debate. The two candidates join Press Play for a debate.
Private Money, Public Schools The non-profit group “Great Public Schools Now” released a 16-page draft plan this week outlining a mission to support public schools in many forms. They also announced the first recipients of grants aimed towards specific schools and organizations. What’s the reaction from Los Angeles Unified School District?
Following Up on the LAUSD Closure One day after the LAUSD closed more than 900 schools, parents, teachers and officials are wondering, what happened? And what’s next? Superintendent Ramon Cortines made the call to close the schools after receiving what he described as a credible threat. The FBI has since discredited the threat, deeming it a hoax. It’s worth noting that the threat came less than two weeks after a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and many injured. But what kind of impact will this closure have on the district? And in the wake of these events, will LAUSD develop a new plan for handling emergency situations?
Geffen’s Gift to UCLA David Geffen has donated $100 million to create a private middle and high school mainly for the children of UCLA employees. But while UCLA is receiving this major gift, public schools in L.A. are in trouble — the LAUSD is facing a long-term deficit and declining enrollment.
Parental Apathy at the LAUSD The elected board of the Los Angeles Unified School District is looking for a new superintendent to oversee the nation's second largest school district. In the past two weeks, consultants held a hundred meeting to ask for public input, but the average attendance was just 12 people.
The LAUSD's iPad Debacle Drags On With Refund Demand The Los Angeles Unified School District has an iPad -- or 43,000 -- it would like to sell you. Lawyers for the district have fired off a letter to Apple saying they’re not happy with the product and demanding a refund . School officials say the curriculum on the iPads, made by the education company Pearson, is glitchy and students don’t like the content. Most teachers who were given the iPads have stopped trying to use Pearson’s app. The iPad debacle lead to the end of John Deasy’s tenure as superintendent, and the FBI is investigating possible fraud in the bidding process. So who’s to blame here, and does the LAUSD deserve a refund?
LAUSD Superintendent Deasy Out LAUSD superintendent John Deasy resigned this morning. Former superintendent Ray Cortines is stepping in until the school board finds a permanent replacement. For the past three-and-a-half years, Deasy’s been a divisive leader. He oversaw significant improvements in student test scores. But he also alienated teachers and botched two big technology projects.
Will LA Unified Flunk Its Superintendent? John Deasy has been Superintendent of LA Unified for three and a half years—weathering storms over iPads and, most recently, a disaster in class scheduling. But graduation rates are up, and more minority kids are enrolled in Advanced Placement. Tomorrow, the elected school board begins his annual evaluation, and tonight we’ll hear why he’s so controversial.
LAUSD Votes to Destroy Staff Emails The elected LA school board has voted to destroy internal e-mails after just one year. This comes after reports from two-year old e-mails revealed that Superintendent John Deasy had meetings and discussions with Apple computers and curriculum publisher Pearson that led to a $500 million contract. Steve Zimmer is a member of the LAUSD board.
Charter Schools on the Chopping Block Two charter schools run by a company called Aspire serve more than 770 students in southeast Los Angeles. More than 90% of the kids are poor enough to qualify for lunch programs; about half are not fluent in English, often a formula for low performance. But the Academic Index Performance scores of these schools is above 800, the statewide target for proficiency. Despite that, the elected LA Unified School Board voted four to two to close them down.
John Deasy Survives at the LAUSD Past superintendents of LA schools have been controversial, but John Deasy has set a new standard. Unionized teachers gave him a 91% vote of "no confidence." The make-up of the elected school board that hired him has changed, with some supporters replaced by skeptics about the "school reform" movement he represents. Yesterday, he delivered a formal offer to resign and become a consultant. But, in a closed door meeting that lasted five hours, he was given a rating of "satisfactory," meaning he's still on the job.
If You Give Kids iPads, Can You Keep Them off the Web? All students at LA Unified will be issued iPads under a program estimated to cost a billion dollars. But it turns out there's a hitch. Three hundred students at Theodore Roosevelt High School alone have hacked through security in order to surf the Internet. Howard Blume reports on education for the LA Times .
LA School Safety in the Aftermath of a National Tragedy At a joint news conference today, the Superintendent of LA Unified appeared with Mayor Villaraigosa and the Chief of Police to tell parents about efforts to increase security at LA schools. Chief Charlie Beck announced a combined joint effort with LAUSD Police, promising that officers will be present at least daily at every elementary and middle school. John Deasey, superintendent of the nation's second largest school district, vowed, despite the district's "devastating budget cuts," to augment security . To reduce the number of guns on the street, Mayor Villaraigosa promised an update on the gun buyback program run by the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development from May, 2013 to Wednesday, December 26.
From LA to Sacramento, New Uncertainty in Public Education The LA Unified School District has a new Superintendent. He's John Deasy , who's been assistant to retiring Ramon Cortines for the past few months. The vote of the elected school board was six to zero, with one abstention. In Sacramento, there's new uncertainty about the State Board of Education , completely revamped by Governor Brown. Out went reformers, including Ted Michell and Ben Austin. Newcomers include the well-regarded former Long Beach Superintendent Carl Cohn, Michael Kirst who served during Brown's previous administration and Patricia Rucker, lobbyist for the California Teachers' Association.
Seniority Rules and Equal Rights in LA's Public Schools Because of the economic crunch, the Los Angeles Unified School District was forced to lay off teachers last year, and that’s certain to happen again. State law mandates that the last teacher hired must be the first fired. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union went to court , claiming that the seniority rule was depriving some kids of their constitutional right to an equal education. Now, the elected School Board has approved what Mayor Villaraigosa calls a “ landmark agreement ” that protects some 45 under-performing schools from lay-offs. The teachers’ union may challenge the deal .
Evaluating Our Teachers, Part 2 Last night we heard about the Los Angeles Times blockbuster education report , the release of records on 6000 3rd through 5th grade elementary teachers and what's called a "value added" analysis of their success or failure based on student performance on standardized English and Math tests. We also heard A.J. Duffy, the President of the United Teachers of LA, call the process a " disgrace " and ask union members to boycott the paper. But the Times plans to put all 6000 names and their on line, and today President Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan said parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective. California Education Secretary Bonnie Reiss said school districts should do the same thing on their own. The Times says those endorsements prove that the issue of teacher accountability is now bipartisan.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?