Shocked teachers union confronts superintendent with a spine

Feb. 16, 2013

By Chris Reed

The CTA’s L.A. branch, the United Teachers Los Angeles, is almost cartoonish in its villainy. UTLA members are the only suspects in a pathetic 2009 incident in which Latino parents of students attending a horrible elementary school in south L.A. were given anonymous flyers that said they risked being deported if they supported efforts to convert the school to charter status.

In 2008, the L.A. Times reported that a teacher and former UTLA official had escaped punishment for a hateful classrom incident in which he cruelly taunted a middle school student over his failed suicide attempt. Why? The UTLA vigorously defended the teacher, using district rules designed to protect members from almost every consequence of their professional behavior.

Yunno, the same protections that forced a payoff for the guy who fed semen to his students, instead of immediate firing.

Follow state law? How dare you!

So it was gratifying and funny to see the stories about how horrified UTLA was that L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy actually intended to follow a state law and a court ruling and make teachers’ classroom performance a significant part of teacher evaluations. This is by EdSource’s John Fensterwald:

“A high-profile teacher evaluation agreement was but days old Friday when Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy and the district’s teachers’ union expressed sharp disagreement over a contentious provision.

“United Teachers Los Angeles accused Deasy of breaking a binding agreement by requiring that ‘data-driven’ measures of student achievement be given a ‘weight limited to 30 percent’ of a teacher’s final evaluation. Deasy referred to the figure in guidelines he issued to principals on how to conduct evaluations. In a statement, he said that classroom observations and other similar factors ‘will remain the primary and controlling factors.’

“Deasy ‘is free to express his opinions, but any attempt to require principals to assign a specific weight to student test data in a teacher’s evaluation is a violation of the protections in an agreement between UTLA and the District,’ UTLA responded in a statement.

“The dispute came three days after LAUSD’s school board ratified the evaluation agreement that the district and UTLA reached in November. Under a court-ordered deadline, both sides agreed to include measures of student academic progress, including the use of state standardized test scores. UTLA members ratified the agreement last month. …

“A maximum 30 percent weight for gauging student performance would appear a reasonable reading of the agreement, but UTLA argues that’s for principals, working with teachers, to determine on a site by site basis, not for Deasy to dictate.”

Yeah, you see, it should be principals, not superintendents, deciding how to evaluate teachers. Why should the superintendent get to make all the decisions?


New board may force Deasy out

Good for John Deasy. Unfortunately, he could be in the final month or months of his job. On March 5, three open board seats will be filled in a LAUSD election. Surprise, surprise: Three UTLA-backed candidates are strongly against Deasy for his decision to follow state law and a court ruling and actually try to measure the classroom performance of his teachers.

What nerve? Can you imagine?

And Jerry Brown wants more power at the local level, where UTLA-style power plays are the absolute norm and usually successful. Brilliant, Jer, just brilliant.

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