iPad scandal latest in long line for L.A. Unified — but different

iPad scandal latest in long line for L.A. Unified — but different

New LAUSD website_logoThe abrupt decision Monday by Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy to suspend the district’s $1 billion iPad program after reports that he manipulated the decision that led to Apple winning the big contract is hugely juicy. The program already had been under fire because it used 30-year borrowing to pay for short-lived electronics. The lack of input by schools and students in the initial decision also led to changes after the program’s first year.

But this in some ways is a sad day for the good guys. To a degree that many didn’t expect, Deasy has taken on the United Teachers Los Angeles, the union chapter that is so powerful that it dominates the broader strategic thinking of the California Teachers Association, the most powerful force in Sacramento. And it is the UTLA, not Deasy, that is primarily responsible for the long list of scandals and anti-student spectacles in Los Angeles Unified.

There could be 15 entries. But here’s the top three:

1. The Vergara case. In June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who analyzed the effect of teacher tenure laws on education in LAUSD’s struggling schools concluded that they resulted in treatment of minority students that was so unacceptable that it violated California constitutional guarantees of access to a quality education. The neediest students, Judge Rolf Treu held, usually had the weakest, least experienced teachers.

Minority mistreatment, as it turns out, is a theme …

utla2. The Mark Berndt debacle. The veteran white teacher at a 99 percent minority south Los Angeles elementary school was caught in 2011 feeding semen to his students, but the district had to pay him $40,000 to get him to resign — thanks to extraordinary job protections the UTLA demanded and won for teachers.

3. The L.A. Times’ expose — which came out two years before the Berndt scandal — of all the teachers who not only didn’t get fired but stayed on the job even after their depraved behavior was exposed.

Taunting a suicidal student? What’s the big deal?

The anecdotal lead on the first story in the expose was absolutely wrenching:

The eighth-grade boy held out his wrists for teacher Carlos Polanco to see.

He had just explained to Polanco and his history classmates at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown why he had been absent: He had been in the hospital after an attempt at suicide.

Polanco looked at the cuts and said they “were weak,” according to witness accounts in documents filed with the state. “Carve deeper next time,” he was said to have told the boy.

“Look,” Polanco allegedly said, “you can’t even kill yourself.”

The boy’s classmates joined in, with one advising how to cut a main artery, according to the witnesses.

“See,” Polanco was quoted as saying, “even he knows how to commit suicide better than you.”

The kicker: Polanco was a UTLA official, not just a member. And, after he got a vigorous defense from the UTLA, Polanco received only trivial punishment from LAUSD.

A teacher taunting a suicidal child is no big deal in a district run by a teachers union, you see.

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