Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Deasy Must Go

Written March 31, 2012 and published with supporting documentation and links on K12NewsNetwork April 2nd,  "Deasy Must Go" has been the most widely read and circulated of Joseph K's articles. Ironically, Joseph K never published it on his own blog. Given the current defeat of the billionaire-backed reform candidates on the LAUSD school board, the backlash against LAUSD Superintendent Deasy's war against teachers (teacher jail) and the newly elected School Board President by a 5-2 vote (Richard Vladovic, a man Deasy swore would result in his resignation should Vladovic be elected), it seems appropriate to republish it here and now. The previous link produced a maelstrom of anti-Deasy comments by LA Times readers. I have added one contemporary link at the bottom in regards to Deasy's plan for LAUSD school children to face an endless barrage of tests beginning in August, 2013. "Just who will profit?" (Short answer: Pearson and Apple).

Now more than ever, Deasy Must Go.

It is time for Deasy to go.  

After robbing poor, minority children of recess in the name of test prep in Prince George’s County years ago, he left nothing but wreckage and enmity as a district superintendent in Maryland. Deasy said, “Lessons at schools missing testing goals have to be very targeted, and there often isn't time for electives and free play like at other schools.” Tough break for poor, primarily black children.
Ditto Santa Monica, where ex-Superintendent Deasy is now universally despised. Deasy has a knack for being universally despised.

He was awarded a fraudulent PhD from Louisville after only six months attendance and just nine units of coursework by a professor (Robert Felner), whom Deasy later repaid with more than $375,000 of “consulting” contracts in Santa Monica.  Substance News had this to say:

According to a highly placed source, formerly at UL, Deasy’s dissertation’s title page carries the date, May, 2003, while it is signed off, April 9, 2004. He entered the program in January, 2004. A UL investigation of the Deasy PhD did not condemn the practice.
James Ramsey, UL president, who had turned a blind eye to Felner’s notorious corruption (the faculty gave Felner a “no confidence vote” in 2006, but he served at least two more years at UL with Ramsey’s full support), gave his nod to the “blue ribbon” investigation.
However, the UL handbook clearly states that a PhD candidate must spend two years on campus. More, it usually takes most students a minimum of three years. In addition, UL rarely allows a student to transfer more than six credits.
Deasy, after allegations rose up about his imaginary degree but before the investigation, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “If the university made errors in the awarding of the degree, I do hope they rescind it. My responsibility is to do everything I was advised and told to do. If I was advised wrong and given wrong information, the university needs to take responsibility for that. I certainly would not want anything unearned.”

Professor Felner was later sentenced to prison for more than five years for defrauding the federal government and urban school districts of $2.3 million. Here in LA, there were inconsistencies in Deasy’s resume. He claimed to have taught at Loyola, though Loyola had never heard of him.

More recently, Deasy laid waste to Miramonte Elementary School, illegally transferring more than a hundred teachers, every adult in the building in fact, without even the pretense of a shred of evidence of wrong doing against any of them, thereby further traumatizing already severely traumatized children.

The story gets worse.

Though cleared of all wrong doing more than two weeks ago by the Sherriff’s department, Miramonte teachers remain in exile in a brand new high school the District saw fit to never open. Their careers and reputations now possibly forever destroyed, they sit helpless day after day in a building with no children talking among themselves, staring at walls. They are sitting in limbo day after day in Deasy’s Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, what is happening to the children at Miramonte? Do they have one or two new teachers? Do they like their new teacher(s)? Who are these teachers?

Parents ask, “Where did these new teachers come from? Are they any good? How do these new teachers know what has already been taught if they just arrived the next day? Are they all just starting over? How long will they stay?”

How much has all this cost (and I don’t mean just money), but I do have a feeling several lawsuits at least will have quite a say one day.

Deasy cares not a whit about education, children, or teachers. He cares only for his own personal ambition and standardized test data.

“Data should drive instruction,” he drones on and on and on.
He reduces curriculum to test prep, then fires inner-city principals and demonizes teachers by closing inner-city schools, or giving them away to private charter companies when they don’t drive data fast enough. Many of these benefiting for-profit charter companies contribute significantly to Deasy-supporting school board member reelection campaigns.  Add to that all of the Gates and Broad Foundations’ money? Gates was Deasy’s former employer and Broad is his mentor. Who is in whose pocket?

Ditto for teacherhood. He wants to make each and every scurrilous charge by an LAUSD principal or administrator (no matter how baseless, ill-conceived, or malevolent) a part of a teacher’s permanent record. No evidence required. Scandalous.

Under Deasy, 9,300 layoff notices were sent to teachers, librarians, nurses, psychologists, one out of four members of UTLA. One out of four. So eager to layoff teachers was Deasy, that he sent quite a few individuals not just one, but two or even three layoff notices. Erasing adult education, early childhood, and School Readiness Language Development Programs are just the tip of the Deasy’s iceberg. Music and the arts are also mostly toast thanks to Deasy. Creativity? Who needs it?

Late last year, Deasy dissolved the District Advisory Committee which for 30 years has allowed parents to monitor and advise the use of Federal Title I funding. He banned it’s duly elected members from Parent Centers as well as all LAUSD property. In some instances, DAC members were visited at their homes and pulled out of meetings by LAUSD police, while others were threatened by District administrators with deportation. This is Deasy’s hallmark, an atmosphere of fear and an absence of both compassion and ethics. LAUSD now faces a $2.5 billion class-action lawsuit for misuse of Title I funds.

With no oversight, comes no accountability. With no accountability, comes no restraint. He raised the poverty level required to qualify for federal funds from forty to fifty percent, thereby eliminating millions of federal tax dollars to twenty-three District schools. Deasy is keeping the money. LACES alone (one of LA’s first and most successful magnet schools) will lose $400,000 next year. How much is $400,000 times twenty-three?

But even that isn’t enough for the insatiable Deasy. Now he’s taking from Title II and III too. Unbelievable. At what point does theft become an issue? Title I, II and III funds are from the federal government. They are our tax dollars. Title I goes to the poor including food for hungry children. Food? Who needs it? Title II improves instruction. Title III goes to those with limited English. Not any more. Much of it now goes to Deasy. Schools will just have to make do.

It is one thing to abuse teachers, but quite another to steal from poor, hungry, minority, limited-English speaking students. You do not steal federal government money. You do not steal from children period.

You do not steal libraries. You do not steal preschool. If you want to really destroy poor, minority children, there is no better way to do it than by eliminating preschool programs. Preschool is the single greatest determinant of future academic success in inner-city schools. It is the most efficient use of education dollars.

Not any more, thanks to Deasy.

What does he want all this money for? Testing. Testing, testing, testing, and more testing. Deasy seems to believe the best way to fatten a starving calf is to buy it more scales.

“Forget Music. Forget art. Your number two pencil had better be sharp!”

Though Deasy’s initial investments and projections remain secret, it must be in the hundreds of millions. Massive consulting contracts already go out to testing companies with very little oversight. This is just a down payment. If Deasy gets his way, the testing regimes of NCLB will look like a quiz by comparison. Pre-tests, post-tests, and interim assessments. He wants to quantify child development with a bold bubble strategy. Despite their limited scope and reliability issues often exceeding fifty percent, Deasy wants to use standardized test increases or decreases to evaluate, then fire teachers. That means every student must be tested by every teacher many times each year.

You cannot evaluate some subjects and not others (unless you teach in Tennessee where teachers are now evaluated in grades and subjects they don’t even teach). 

Deasy’s wants to impose a value added measure (VAM) to evaluate teachers. VAM was invented by Dr. William Sanders, a statistician working in the field of agricultural genetics at the University of Tennessee in the 1980's. He was, quite literally, a bean counter. He believed he could use his statistical models used to produce plump, ripe tomatoes (and probably beans) to evaluate teaching. Then Governor Lamar Alexander said, "Go for it." Unfortunately, children are neither tomatoes nor beans and teaching is not agriculture.

To “prevent” teaching to the tests, the tests will have to be new and different each and every year. How else can you “prevent” teaching to a test when teachers’ jobs are at stake and those teachers, no matter how moral, have already seen the test? How will it be fair if some teach to the tests while others don’t, in favor of skills such as oral language, written expression, creativity, and divergent thinking? Standardized tests penalize divergent thinking. They teach false truths, such as the idea there is only one answer or just one which is best. Is it the result of bad teaching when hungry children in the city find shading endless bubbles for the umpteenth time every year too tedious to regard?

Hundreds of millions is just a down payment. Just who will profit? 

For how long?

And what for?

It is time for Deasy to go.

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