Teachers union changes tactics, urges board to 'evaluate' Deasy*
Superintendent John Deasy
In an earlier version of this post we mistakenly reported that UTLA is "urging the school board to fire" superintendent John Deasy. This is incorrect. We try our hardest to write with accuracy, but on this one, we missed the mark – and we regret the error. What follows is UTLA's letter to us (in part) and our corrected post:
Our September 15th news release does not state that UTLA is urging the school board to fire John Deasy. …You may speculate on what you think the statement means, but to report that as fact coming from UTLA is simply wrong. … We also did not state we want the school board to downgrade Deasy's performance to "unsatisfactory." We stated that the board has the opportunity to evaluate Deasy " to determine if his work is satisfactory." As a long-time journalist I believe you realize that both the headline and the story posted by LA School Report on September 16th are misleading.
UTLA requests an immediate retraction so that your readers and the LAUSD school community will be informed of UTLA's actual position on this issue.
Suzanne Spurgeon, Director of Communications, UTLA
The Los Angeles teachers union has given up one of its oldest and loudest refrains, calling on LA Unified chief John Deasy to resign. Instead, UTLA appears to be changing tactics; it is urging the school board to 'evaluate' the superintendent.
In a press statement, UTLA says it wants the board "to evaluate the Superintendent to determine if his work is 'satisfactory'… and hold Deasy accountable" at his annual review to take place behind closed doors on October 21. A less than satisfactory review would effectively spell the end to the superintendent's contract which – at his own insistence – stipulates he meet performance targets set by the board.
"Deasy must be held accountable for the iPad fiasco and MiSiS crisis……[he] holds teachers accountable for their classroom programs, yet he cries foul when serious questions are raised by his supervisors," UTLA said in a statement yesterday.
But amidst a fast-moving saga that features a fractured seven-member school board and a superintendent increasingly under fire, the landscape without Deasy may not be a silver bullet for the union.
Not only could firing the superintendent become a campaign issue for the four school board members up for election next March, but it could have an impact on negotiations between the union and the district, currently at the bargaining table over a contract on behalf of 31,000 employees.
"It's likely to have a disruptive effect on the negotiations," cautions Chris Tilly, Director of UCLA's Institute for Research and Labor Employment.
While it is possible that a new superintendent who is more amenable to the union's demands could be a catalyst to move the stalled negotiations forward, Tilly argues getting a new superintendent could take a long time. "And whenever you're negotiating, you need to maintain continuity," Tilly said.
The district has offered a 6.5 percent raise over three years, with a one-time, 2 percent lump sum payment, in line with other union contracts awarded this year. The union has asked for a 17.6 percent bump over two years.
Whoever follows Deasy will have the same budgetary constraints and the same equalizing requirements under the "me too" clauses included in other unions' contracts with the district, which means an increase for UTLA would mean an increase for all.
Further, replacing Deasy does not eliminate many of the fundamental issues between education reformers and the union.
The most recent formal search for a LAUSD superintendent was in 2006 when David Brewer, a retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy, was recruited to lead the district. Before hiring him, the board formed a citizens commission to help inform the criteria; the district contracted a search firm to cull applicants nationwide, and then a second committee was brought together to help review the applicants.
"The last time we conducted a real search for a superintendent, it was a long and hard process," a district staffer told LA School Report.
And that was at a time when the school board was in more agreement, albeit, a lot less friendly to the teachers union.
Previous Posts: Deasy on his critics: Constant attacks are 'politically motivated'; Teachers union ups pressure on Deasy over technology, contract; UTLA holds morning rally to insist Deasy be thrown into 'jail'; UTLA skewers Deasy: '10 reasons to Vote NO'