Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Broad Foundation and Broadies: Kings of “Disruptive” and “Unreasonable” Trickle-Down Reform – Cloaking Inequity

The Broad Foundation and Broadies: Kings of "Disruptive" and "Unreasonable" Trickle-Down Reform – Cloaking Inequity

The Broad Foundation and Broadies: Kings of "Disruptive" and "Unreasonable" Trickle-Down Reform

Eli Broad is infamous for his book The Art of Being Unreasonable. Broad is also know for venture philanthropy, the approach billionaires have taken to influence and direct educational policy by inserting billions of dollars. Is the Broad "disruptive" and "unreasonable" trickle-down approach to school reform the right fit for the United States? For your community? (For all of Cloaking Inequity's posts on Trickle-down reform click here) Today Cloaking Inequity will explore the Broad Foundation, Eli Broad's philosophy of venture philanthropy and the guiding tenants of The Broad Superintendents Academy. In a future post here at Cloaking Inequity, I will take up Houston's selection as the the first two-time winner of the Broad Prize.

Birth of the Broad Foundation

Billionaires Eli & Edythe Broad come from humble beginnings in Detroit. The couple both worked their way through the Detroit public school system, then Eli Broad continued on to Michigan State University (Go Blue!). Eventually graduating with a degree in accounting and later becoming a CPA. In 1957, Eli Broad started up a construction business with family member Donald Kaufman. Kaufman and Broad formed KB Homes; a company that would eventually be publically traded and turn sizable profits.[3] In 1971, Broad purchased a life insurance company called SunAmerica. SunAmerica grew and was ultimately merged with AIG in 1999.[4]

The sale and merger of SunAmerica in 1999 marked a turning point for the Broads. Although the couple established a foundation for charitable giving back in the 1960s, the 1999 sellout spurred the growth of the foundation with Eli taking the lead. Then in 2010, Eli and Edythe Broad signed The Giving Pledge, stating they would pledge 75% of their wealth to venture philanthropy. The Broads identified public education as a focal point of their giving.[5] As of 2011, the Broads have given $500 million to public education and $2 billion to The Broad Foundation.[6]

Venture Philanthropy

Eli Broad is guided by his self-defined criteria of venture philanthropy. In Eli Broad 2012 book, The Art of Being Unreasonable, he outlines criteria for his giving. Eli Broad prescribes to the notion that running The Broad Foundation more like a for-profit than a non-profit. He further clarified that he is not operating a charity and that he expects results for each dollar spent.[7] Some have called Eli Broad a "control freak" and a "bully" as his giving is known to come with strings attached.[8] Eli Broad responds by stating that he is "not a bully, but I am not a potted plant either" maintaining a primary role in the decision-making of the various initiatives in The Broad Foundations.[9]

Academics have also critically discussed venture philanthropy. Educational historian Diane Ravitch explains the venture philanthropy approach stating, "venture philanthropists began with different emphasis, but over time they converged in support of reform strategies that mirrored their own experience in acquiring huge fortunes, such as competition, choice, deregulation, incentives, and other market-based approaches."[10]  The work of Janelle Scott of the University of California, Berkeley underscores Ravitch's concerns with what she refers to as cross pollination of neoliberal philanthropic foundations co-contributing only to like-minded entities.[12]  In sum, the concept of venture philanthropy as applied to educational reform has drawn criticism from some quarters.eli-broad

Impact of the Broad Foundation

The Broad Foundation has diverse and a significant role American philanthropy. Headquartered in the founders' hometown of Los Angeles, California, the foundation aims to utilize "entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science, and the arts." The Broad Center and The Broad Prize for Urban Education are the two areas of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation Education that serve as the action arms of the larger educational foundation. The Broad Prize for Urban Education is an annual award of $1 million established in 2002[13] to honor urban school districts that show "overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students."[14]

Driven by the founder's philosophy of venture philanthropy, it is important to note the process and decision-making body for the prize. The Broad Prize for Urban Education in public school districts is not an application-based award; rather a review board evaluates districts. For instance the 2013 prize included board members such as Elisa Villanueva Beard (Teach for America), Christopher Cross (former assistant secretary of education under President George W. Bush), Frederick Hess (American Enterprise Institute and executive editor Education Next), Alexander Sandy Kress (former education advisor to President George W. Bush and Pearson lobbyist) amongst others.[15] Each individual has clearly influenced the development of educational policy and/or participated in significant top-down reform efforts in education. Many of them hold the common tie of supporting measures of high-stakes accountability, alternative teacher certification, and privatization through school choice.

As commendable as the stated mission and core beliefs of the Broad Prize appears to be to improve urban education, it is guided by the trickle-down reform philosophies of Eli Broad. What is the true role of the Broad Prize? According to Broad, "our current public education system is fundamentally broken"[16] and "entire public school systems must be transformed."[17] What is meant by these vague statements can be culled by diving into their list of 75 Examples of How Bureaucracy Stands in the Way of America's Students & Teachers, and quotes from their alumni explaining the importance of Broad. Broad identifies "labor laws, regulations and collective bargaining agreements" as major barriers to the success of our public schools. Throughout the alumni profiles listed on the site there is a constant drum beat that ties inefficiency to poor administrator and teacher management and evaluation, and the necessity of market driven management styles to achieve gains and achieve an efficient system of public schools.

Who are Broad's allies in the prize? A high-profile board of directors guides The Broad Center. The lineup of board members includes Wendy Kopp (Teach for America founder), Michelle Rhee (StudentsFirst founder and CEO and the former chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools), and Richard Barth (Knowledge is Power Program-KIPP Foundation CEO).[18] Beyond the ideological background accompanying the above-mentioned individuals in the decision-making process there is that financial contributions to their organizations. Notably, Teach for America, StudentsFirst, KIPP each received funds in 2011-2012 from the parent foundation.[19] The strong educational ideologies and political ties of the board members coupled with the financial ties to the larger foundation muddle the seemingly admirable mission and core beliefs of The Broad Prize.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.18.21 AM

The Broad Residency in Urban Education & The Broad Superintendents Academy

Working from the trickle-down reform concept embraced by the founder Eli Broad,[20] The Broad Center has two primary programs to train educational leaders: The Broad Residency in Urban Education (Broad Residency) and The Broad Superintendents Academy. Both established in 2002, these leadership programs have trained over 400 individuals with 150 graduates of The Broad Superintendents Academy.

The Broad Residency is a two-year paid program that trains individuals for managerial positions in education. Requiring applicants to have advanced degrees, at least four years of work experience, and experience in one or more functional business areas (finance, operations, strategy, general management, human resources, or information technology), the Broad Residency directly aims to bring business practices to education. In the specified selection criteria, the application explains "these individuals (experienced business men and women) can bring best practices into an industry that historically has been slow to adopt practices that improve operations."  The accepted candidates are placed in partnership organizations including metropolitan school districts, charter management organizations (CMOs), and state/federal departments of education.[21] Unlike The Broad Superintendents Academy that typically denies the development of top-down reformers in education,[22] The Broad Residency is forthright throughout the application process that expressed value placed on disruptive business-minded decision making for educational leaders.

The Broad Superintendent Academy is a highly selective training program with allusive selection criteria. Although specifics are not available for exact qualifications or what Broad interviewers are looking for in a candidate, The Broad Superintendent Academy does disclose in the aggregate track record of graduates and general qualifications for potential Broad candidates. The foundation reports 150 graduates with 96 holding or having held superintendent positions.[23]

While the glossy brochures and soaring mission of Broad seems admirable and innocuous, insight into the design and intended goals of the academy can be found in a July 2012 New Jersey open records request by the Education Law Center. A public records request looking into the New Jersey Department of Education and Commissioner Christopher Cerf (A 2007 Broad Superintendent Academy alum[24]), resulted in the release of a March 2012 board memo regarding The Broad Superintendents Academy.[25] According to The Broad Center memo, several actions for revamping the academy were under consideration by the Broad Board of Directors. Of the proposed changes to the Academy was the creation of the Academy 2.0. Recommendations in the memo would have the Academy focus on the creation of leaders to "disrupt the status quo."  To accomplish Broad's Art of Being Unreasonable, the memo proposes a shift away from core knowledge for future educational leaders and toward reform priorities and reform "accelerators." The Broad Center memo indicated that the four reform priorities as measurement of educator effectiveness, innovative learning models, accountability, and school choice. Specific reform accelerators accompany the implementation of the four reform priorities. These include strategies for removing obstacles, political navigation, community management, building political presence through public speaking and publishing opportunities, and individualized leadership training.[26]

In the 2012 memo, Academy 2.0 would market the research done on high-profile successful reform leaders to refine the selection process to target "bold visionary leaders with a proven history of breakthrough reforms," "passionate, civic-minded, and disruptive non-traditional leaders with significant political experience," and those with "a history of implementing an aggressive reform agenda."  Specific names such as Wendy Kopp, Michelle Rhee, Christopher Chef, Joel Klein, and Pete Gorman were mentioned as profiled leaders used as exemplars. Another key aspect gleaned from the memo was the desire to "drive talent to strategic locations with strong conditions for reform." Essentially, locating and facilitating the placement of Broad graduates into reform primed placements in urban areas in the United States to maximize the impact of the Broad Academy.[27]


Broad Trickle-down Reformers Find Trouble

Over the last 11 years, the Broad Center has been busy training and placing some of the most controversial public school district superintendents and state education leaders. They have created a large footprint of market-minded superintendents in places such as California, Chicago, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. And Broad continues to make their presence palpable with various administrative staff placements. However, Broad fellows also have acquired reputations for having the propensity to find trouble by creating "unreasonable" maladaptive and illicit disruptions. [28]

Mike Miles Finds Trouble in Dallas

In July 2013, the school board announced that Mike Miles had apparently violated policy with regards to an OPR investigation dealing with a contract for community and parent services.[29] The board voted unanimously to spend up to $100,000 and hire an outside investigator. The matter was referred to Paul Coggins, former U.S. District attorney.[30] Moving forward, the Dallas ISD School Board will be obtaining a report from the ongoing investigation after Labor Day in 2013.[31]

Turnover has plagued Miles' superintendency. Notably, the number of experienced teachers and principals that resigned under Miles was the largest in the history of Dallas ISD. [32] A plethora of veteran teachers and principals decided to retire or go to other districts. According to education blogs, Dallas ISD had over 1,700 vacancies in July 2013.[33] In a reaction to this, Mike Miles sent a request to surrounding districts to not hire Dallas ISD teachers.[34] Some critics have argued that Miles has lost control and has "intimidated" teachers and principals who had been with the district. Some principals have filed lawsuits, such as former principal, Dr. Shaver, who was fired.[35]

Miles has experienced high-levels of turnover amongst the various departmental leadership and cabinet positions. For example, Jamal Jenkins, a former Broad Residency graduate, was brought on by Miles to be an Executive Director of Human Resources. Mr. Jenkins left prior to the conclusion of Mr. Miles' first year as head of Dallas ISD. In his case the HR position was already vacated by mid October 2012.[36]

Other Broad Fellows Find Trouble

Miles is in similar company with many other Broad Fellows. Broad's "art of being unreasonable" top-down reform approach to public school districts has not been without significant contention. [37] For example, charges of ignoring teacher concerns and implementing divisive orders have resulted in several high profile incidents of the superintendents Broad has trained. Their superintendent trainees are making headlines as their jobs are on the line due to many issues of impropriety and an unusually large volume of worker grievances.[38] In Rhode Island, 82% of teachers in the state feel less respected than they had prior to Deborah Gist coming into power.[39] In the Rochester school district in NY employees overwhelmingly gave a vote of "no confidence" (95% of those who voted) to Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard. Many others have been involved in high profile departures from their school districts. Los Angeles Unified School District head, John Deasy, was recently rated by his teachers and earned a score of 1.36 out of 5 possible points.[40] This is coupled with his controversial Ph.D., in which, he only earned nine hours of credit before being awarded the degree from The University of Louisville.[41] And, the late Maria Goodloe-Johnson was fired for financial impropriety in Seattle.[42]


While seemingly innocuous, the reform agenda actually espoused by Broad in the shadows via billions of dollars is the same as that of the other privatization education forces, like Michelle Rhee's Student's First, The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and The Thomas B. Fordham Institute. These are trickle-down reformers focused on anti-democratic top-down reforms.

Diane Ravitch has spoken out against the venture philanthropy concept of private foundations run by America's wealthy buying and dictating public education policy. Lacking the oversight and checks placed on public actions and funds, America's financial elite are influencing and undermining the public school system without bounds.[11]

This post was written in conjunction with Lindsay Redd and Dr. Ruth Vail and was excerpted from a report commissioned by the Foundation for Community Empowerment.

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Please blame Siri for any typos.



[3] Colacello, B. (2006). Eli Broad's Big Picture. Vanity Fair, (December), 324–330; 379–384.

[4] Broad, E. (2012). The art of being unreasonable. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc. and Safer, M. (2011, April 23). 60 Minutes: Why and how Eli Broad is giving billions away.

[5] Retrieved from The Giving Pledge

[6]Safer, M. (2011, April 23). 60 Minutes: Why and how Eli Broad is giving billions away.

[7] Ibid.


[9] Safer, M. (2011, April 23). 60 Minutes: Why and how Eli Broad is giving billions away.

[10] Ravitch, D. (2010). The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. New York, NY: Basic Books.

[11] Ibid

[12] Scott, J. (2009). The politics of venture philanthropy in charter school policy and advocacy. Educational Policy, 23(106), 106–136.

[13] Soon after Rod Paige left, Houston ISD won the first Broad Prize.

[14] Retrieved from The Broad Prize

[15] Retrieved from The Broad Prize 2013 Other review members included Anne L. Bryant, Dan Goldhaber, Jane Hannaway, Eric Hanushek, Karen Hawley Miles, Patricia W. Levesque, Deborah McGriff, Thomas W. Payzant, Delia Pompa, Margot Rogers, Andew Rotherham, John Simpson, and Gene Wilhoit.



[18] Retrieved from The Broad Center Additional members include Paul Pastorek, Barry Munitz, Becca Bracy Knight, Harold Ford J., Louis Gerstner, Jr., Dan Katzir, Margaret Spellings, Andrew L. Stern, and Lawrence H. Summers.

[19] The Broad Foundation. (2012). The Broad Foundations 2011-2012 report. Los Angeles, CA.

[20] Broad, E. (2012). The art of being unreasonable. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

[21] Retrieved from The Broad Residency with full list of partnership organizations available at

[22] Retrieved from The Broad Center Commentary

[23] Retrieved from The Broad Superintendents Academy

[24]  Retrieved from The Broad Report

[25] Retrieved from Education Law Center

[26] Retrieved from Washington Post

[27] Retrieved from Washington Post

[28] PDFs/Featured Graduate Broad.docx

[29] ISD-investigation-violates-spirit-of-public-information-act.ece


[31] ISD-cleans-house/


[33] ISD-teachers-end-of-year-Dallas ISD-vacancies-double/




[37] Samuels, Christina A. (2011/06/08). Critics target growing army of broad leaders. Education Week, 30, 1.







Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Smaller Class Sizes Has Multiple Benefits on Learning

Smaller Class Sizes Has Multiple Benefits on Learning

Smaller Class Sizes Has Multiple Benefits on Learning


With schools growing considerably in size and many smaller educational establishments closing their doors, could growing class sizes be affecting children's learning? Maybe. Research has found that small classes with fewer than 20 students are beneficial to children, particularly in primary grades.

There are several advantages for small class sizes for children and here are a few of the most important ones, in our opinion:

More One-to-One Attention

With a class size of more than 30 children, it can be hard for teachers to provide one-to-one time to each child even if they have a teaching assistant. In smaller classes, the teacher's time isn't spread so thin and they can spend more one-to-one time with individual students.

This individual attention can be highly beneficial and have a positive influence on children's personal achievements and test scores. According to the 1980s Student Teacher Achievement Ration (STAR) study, when a class is reduced by 7 students (or 32% in this particular case) student achievement is increased by the equivalent of an additional 3 months of schooling.

These findings were particularly strong in classes of young children or those from less advantaged family backgrounds.

Students Get an Increased Opportunity to Bond

With smaller class sizes, children spend more time together in a close group, meaning they build strong friendships rather than simply gain acquaintances. With more time spent together, these friendships are more likely to stand the test of time.

A Chance to Tailor Individual Learning

Not everyone learns the same way. Some people learn best through listening, whereas others may be visual or even kinesthetic, hands-on, learners. Smaller classes can work to the children's benefit, as the teacher will have more free time to specifically design a lesson plan that plays to specific students' strengths and will be most effective for individual needs.

No one will get left behind in a smaller class since it is easier for the teacher to cater to both sides of the bell curve.

Less Disruption

Let's face it, no matter how good the teacher is, when there are 30 plus students in a room there is going to be noise and disruption. Concentration can easily be broken, meaning children's learning is interrupted on a daily basis, but with smaller class sizes this is less likely. Discipline is less likely to be a problem and the class is likely to be much quieter, aiding concentration.

More Time Actually Learning

A 2014 study by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) found that teachers in England spend just 20 hours a week in the classroom. The rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks, lesson preparation, and marking.

Some teachers even spend up to 20% of their classroom time doing further administration, meaning just 16 of the 48 hours teachers spend in the classroom per week are spent on teaching pupils.

The more students in a class, the more time basic administration and everyday tasks take. Taking the register, marking work, reading lessons – it all takes much longer. Small classes speed this up and children are more likely to receive thoughtful and encouraging comments on their work.

Could Private Tutoring Help?

Sometimes large classes are unavoidable, so to ensure your children get the much-needed one-to-one education they require, why not invest in private tutoring?

Available by the hour, with tutors who specialize in particular subjects, your child could get extra lessons outside of school to help bring up grades or encourage them to excel even more than they already do.

Some of the benefits of tutoring include:

  • Learning at one's own pace
  • Flexible and convenient lessons
  • Increasing motivation to learn in all subjects
  • Improving self-esteem and confidence
  • Encouraging self-learning
  • Improving grades

Featured photo credit: All images are creative commons public domain and are free to use. via

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Fwd: L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance


Begin forwarded message:

From: lrgrossman <>
Date: August 19, 2016 at 8:37:17 PM PDT
To: lrgrossman <>
Subject: L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance


L.A. Schools Deny Job-Seekers Second Chance

ELIZABETH WARMERDAM, Courthouse News Service, August 17, 2016    

Los Angeles Unified School District illegally rejects job-seekers who have expunged misdemeanor records, two members of the civil rights group All Of Us or None say in a lawsuit against the district.
     All Of Us or None, founded in 2003, promotes the civil rights of people who have been convicted of a crime, including help in employment and legislative advocacy.
     It sued LAUSD, its Superintendent Michelle King and the top officials in its Personnel Commission and Human Resources Division, on Monday in Superior Court.
     Plaintiff Jane Roe has one conviction, for credit card fraud when she was 19, in 2006. It was reduced to a misdemeanor and then dismissed 2011. Since then she has earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences, a master's degree in sociology and a teaching certificate and is in the first year of a doctoral program in education.
     Plaintiff John Doe was convicted of multiple misdemeanors.
     California Labor Code states that employers cannot use convictions that have been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed as a factor in determining whether to hire a job candidate, according to the complaint.
     Roe and Doe say they both were rejected for positions at LAUSD based on misdemeanor convictions that have since been expunged or otherwise dismissed.
     Roe taught at LAUSD as an urban resident teacher from June 2013 to June 2014, and applied toward the end of 2013 for the certified position of middle-school science teacher.
     The district placed her on a list of eligible candidates and Wright Middle School hired her as a science teacher in June 2014. She was fingerprinted for a criminal history background check the next month. Roe started her job at the middle school on Aug. 11, 2014, before the background check results had come in.
     Two weeks later, the district "informed Roe that she was ineligible to work for LAUSD based on her background check result," she says in the complaint.
     The district never provided her with a copy of her background check, but she believes it disclosed her expunged misdemeanor conviction. She says she was not given a reason for her firing, nor notice that she has the right to appeal.
     John Doe was convicted of multiple misdemeanors between 1986 and 2004, including presenting a false ID to a peace officer, battery on a spouse, possession of a concealed weapon and driving under the influence.
     "As part of court-ordered programs, Doe successfully completed anger management classes in 2004, which helped him understand and control his anger and emotions. As a result, it has been more than a decade since his last conviction, and he has devoted his life to his parenting obligations, including care for his daughter during her treatment for leukemia," he says in the complaint.
     Doe graduated from Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is skilled in maintenance work, but has had difficulty finding employment due to his criminal record. With help from A New Way of Life Reentry Project, he was able to have all of his convictions set aside and dismissed in 2013, Doe says.
     With his newly expunged record, he applied for a job with LAUSD as a maintenance worker, which would have been his first stable paycheck with regular hours. He was fingerprinted and the district obtained a copy of his rap sheet. He was not given a copy of the rap sheet but he believes it disclosed his expunged misdemeanor convictions.
     "LAUSD rejected Doe's employment application based in whole or in part on information obtained from his DOJ rap sheet," the complaint states.
     Doe appealed but has yet to hear back from the district.
     "At no time was Doe given an opportunity to present any evidence of mitigation, rehabilitation, relevance of the expunged convictions to the job position, or the nature of his original convictions," he says.
     Both plaintiffs seek to clarify the scope of protection the state offers people who have expunged their records and are looking for employment.
     "Most importantly, plaintiffs seek to vindicate the rights of FICP [formerly incarcerated or convicted people], to restore their dignity, and to be free from undue prejudice of employers such as LAUSD," the complaint states.
     They also want to be placed on top of the list of eligible candidates and allowed to proceed to the next stage of the hiring process, as they want to see copies of the rap sheets obtained by the district.
     They are represented by Joshua Kim with A New Way of Life Reentry Project, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did the school district.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

8 ways to make edu-mischief while California Superintendent Tom Torlakson is Acting Governor

8 ways to make edu-mischief while California Superintendent Tom Torlakson is Acting Governor
Dear Tom Torlakson: Here are 8 things we could do while the politicians are away! We gotta hurry!
View this email in your browser


Imagine my surprise when I heard on NPR yesterday that State Superintendent of schools Tom Torlakson--my very favorite State official--is Acting Governor of California for the rest of the week. This is what happens when your whole state government comprises the biggest delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

While every other force in Golden State politics is looking for unity in the City of Brotherly Love, my mind leaps to the education priorities we could advance!

It wouldn't be the first time an Acting Governor did a whole lot of governing when Jerry Brown was out of state. But it's certainly a first for a Superintendent.

So I've penned a letter to the Superintendent to offer my assistance.

Dear Acting Governor Torlakson,

First off, congrats!

I am writing you to offer to rush to the State Capital to work feverishly alongside you to advance our public education priorities while the rest of California's political wish lists languish in the Philadelphia International Airport baggage claim. (It's not their fault they exceeded the 3.7 ounce limit.)

I admit, I've been feeling envy what with all the selfies my friends have been posting. Betsy pictured with Dolores Huerta. Randi pictured with Bill Clinton. Carolyn and Dallas were even interviewed about their experiences as mother and daughter in Hillary's and Bernie's respective delegations.

But, oh, the things we can get done for our schools while they're distracting our elected officials! 

By the way, Tom, I hope you don't let the *Acting* qualifier get in the way of the work we can do together. The philanthropists and politicians certainly haven't let their lack of credentials get in the way of dictating what our teachers and principals do. So let's give it a go!

Just say the word and I'll be on the next Southwest flight to Sacramento. I'll use carry-on, so my only baggage will be emotional--a decade of mourning for the once top-funded California public school system and my more recent PTSD from the assault on public schools by the charter lobby.

But there's no time for a pity party. Here's my short list!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

SUMMER HEATS UP ON THE SCHOOL REFORM FRONT Judge denies LA Unified request to dismiss lawsuit filed by fired teacher Rafe Esquith


LA School Report

                   "What's Really Going on Inside LAUSD"


JUST IN: Judge denies LA Unified request to dismiss lawsuit filed by fired teacher Rafe Esquith   Posted on July 13, 2016 2:19 pm by Sarah Favot
  Rafe EsquithA Los Angeles Superior Court judge Wednesday denied LA Unified's request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by well-known former fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith, who was fired in October.

Esquith filed the defamation lawsuit against the district in August after he was placed on paid leave and assigned to "teacher jail" pending an internal investigation after a fellow teacher complained that Esquith made a joke about nudity in front of his students. Esquith had taught at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School located between Koreatown and Westlake for more than 30 years.

Students, parents and fellow teachers protested outside Hobart Elementary last year when Esquith was removed from the classroom.

The district's attorneys filed an anti-SLAPP motion earlier this year seeking to dismiss the entire case.

Ben Meiselas, Esquith's attorney, said an "army" of LA Unified attorneys were in court Wednesday and argued in favor of dismissing the case, but the judge denied the request. Esquith was not present for the hearing, Meiselas said.

"I think that their lawyers convinced them, I think improperly, that this case was not going to go to trial, but today we're one step closer to going to trial," Meiselas said. "It was a really, really, really big victory in court for Rafe Esquith."

An LA Unified spokeswoman said the district plans to appeal the ruling.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision," spokeswoman Shannon Haber said in an email. "As such, we intend to appeal the judge's denial of our motion."

Students chanted and carried signsThe lawsuit also alleges infliction of emotional distress, retaliation and age discrimination. Lawyers for Esquith said the educator was hospitalized with stress-induced thrombosis. The suit also claims retaliation for Esquith's complaints about teacher jail and the filing of a class-action lawsuit.

"Today was a real vindication of the claims being asserted and Mr. Esquith is prepared to continue his fight and continue to succeed against LAUSD and its army of bully lawyers," Meiselas said.

Esquith filed the class-action lawsuit against the district about "teacher jail." In that lawsuit, Esquith claims that the district has overseen the "unconstitutional imprisonment" of at least 2,000 teachers in teacher jails. His attorneys argue that the discipline is a "shrewd cost-cutting tactic, implemented to force its older and better-paid teachers out the door" by terminating them or forcing them to quit thereby preventing the teachers from receiving their pension and health-care benefits and saving the district money. The lawsuit describes the teacher jails as "nondescript, fenced-in, warehouse facilities," where teachers are prevented from speaking to each other and forced to stare at the walls for six hours a day. The lawsuit seeks $1 billion in damages.

The district's $7.6 billion budget for this fiscal year approved last month includes $15 million to pay salaries for teachers and other staff "housed" in teacher jails. The district said 181 staff members, an increase from last year, are what the district describes as "housed," but what is more commonly known as teacher jails, while the district conducts internal investigations.

The class-action lawsuit has recently been moved from state court to federal court, at the request of the district, Meiselas said, because the case cites violations of federal civil rights laws.

The investigation into Esquith began in March 2015 after a teacher overheard Esquith recite a passage from Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" that referred to the naked king. Esquith, who is known for teaching Shakespeare to his students, said his students could recognize the passage from which he was quoting.

In December, the district released documents to the Los Angeles Times investigators found in their internal investigation that claim Esquith fondled two boys and a girl in the 1970s. Investigators said Esquith's work computer contained inappropriate pictures and videos. There were other allegations.

Esquith's attorneys have denied the allegations and called the investigation a "witch hunt" and "specifically orchestrated to assassinate Mr. Esquith's character."

Esquith seeks to get his job back through the lawsuit.

Last May, LA Unified reported Esquith to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for a formal investigation for abuse and misconduct, but that body found the allegations to be without merit, Esquith's attorneys said.

Esquith has written best-selling books and received numerous accolades for innovative teaching, including Disney's National Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, a Sigma Beta Delta Fellowship from Johns Hopkins University, a National Medal of Arts, and Oprah Winfrey's $100,000 "Use Your Life Award."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled in September.

San Francisco principals defy school board, hire Teach for America recruits

Posted on July 13, 2016 8:08 am by LA School Report

san francisco chronicle- ogoA handful of San Francisco elementary school principals facing an urgent need to fill positions for the fall have hired Teach for America recruits despite the school board's vocal opposition to the organization.

In May, the board severed the district's partnership with Teach for America, which supplies enthusiastic if inexperienced teachers to thousands of schools in lower-income communities across the country.

The principals, including those at Bret Harte, Lakeshore and Flynn elementary schools, knew the board's position. But with a big teacher shortage weighing on them, they said politics mattered less than finding the best teachers to put in front of children.

The principals, who have so far taken on eight candidates from Teach for America, didn't break any rules.

The hires are intern-credentialed teachers, among several dozen such interns who will be teaching in city schools this year while enrolled at a university to earn a full credential. What makes them unique is they are still with Teach for America, often called TFA, and will be supported throughout the year by the organization.

The hiring of Teach For America members, though, clearly was in opposition to the school board's will. Board Vice President Shamann Walton was "livid."

To read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle, click here


Morning Read: State moves to make student test scores easier to understand   Posted on July 13, 2016 7:49 am by LA School Report

New resources designed to make Common Core-aligned tests more useful

California is providing a range of new resources to teachers, parents and the public to make Smarter Balanced tests and student scores easier to understand — and more useful in actually guiding instruction. The State Board of Education on Wednesday will discuss new parent and teacher resources that are available to help understand the tests, as well as improvements to the public website, where this year's scores are expected to be posted by the end of August. By Theresa Harrington, EdSource

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