Tuesday, August 20, 2013
John Deasy vs. Sarah Palin
In the wake of Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy first receiving a 91 percent Vote of No Confidence from his teachers and then a failing grade in their subsequent Performance Review (both in the Spring of 2013), questions must be asked. In the former vote, only 1,647 of LA’s 33,000 teachers expressed any confidence at all in Deasy while in the latter the vast majority of teachers who participated rated his performance below average or poor in every single one of their 25 performance areas. The ratio of poor to below average was often six to one. On a scale of one to five with five being highest, Deasy scored 1.36 overall. In a world where most teachers issue fails with anything below 60 percent, the Superintendent's grade was 27.2 percent. Had he somehow managed to double his score, he still would have fallen short of a D by more than six percentage points.
Given such dismal numbers, it is fair to ask would anyone be a more effective superintendent? What about John Deasy vs. Sarah Palin, for example?
Let’s start with their educational backgrounds which are surprisingly similar. Sarah Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1982. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, she transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester and then to North Idaho College for the spring and fall semesters of 1983. In August of 1984 Palin enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for an entire academic year and then attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Returning to the University of Idaho in Moscow which apparently sucked up all her units from all her other colleges and universities as if it was one giant academic vacuum cleaner, she received her degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in May of 1987.
John Deasy began his PhD studies attending the State University of New York at Albany from 1991 to 1993 and earned 33 units, an astounding 8 units per semester. He then divided his time from 1997 to 2003 between the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College in a dual program. In those seven years of serious academic rigor, Deasy earned 44 units, barely 3 units per semester. Perhaps exhausted from that breath-taking 3-units-per-semester pace, Deasy then turned his attention to a fourth institution, the University of Louisville where he slaved away to earn a relatively astonishing 9 units for a single research course in the Spring of 2004. How many 9-unit, single-semester classes does the University of Louisville offer, I wonder? How many does any university? Much like Palin’s University of Idaho, Deasy’s University of Louisville sucked up all of Deasy’s units from three different universities like a giant academic vacuum cleaner. Deasy was awarded his PhD with stunning swiftness at the end of a single semester in May while the weather was still relatively nice.
Such an achievement is particularly remarkable when you stop to consider the fact a typical University of Louisville student at the time completed (and now in the wake of the Deasy fiasco is required to complete) its PhD program in approximately three years with at least one year in full time residency and a minimum of 18 units.
Palin narrowly defeated Deasy in the number of colleges and universities attended for a single degree by the narrow margin of five to four.
In June 2008, Northern Idaho College alumni gave Palin its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. To date John Deasy has been awarded No Distinguished Anything from Anybody.
In its 2013 Performance Review, of the 25 performance areas Los Angeles teachers rated Deasy the lowest in the area of his ability to positively influence the morale of the staff with 86 percent of teachers rating him below average or poor. More than six times as many rated him poor compared to below average. He was second lowest in his ability to spend money wisely according to the teachers with starkly similar numbers. In stark contrast to Deasy, Palin received the Miss Congeniality award and was awarded a college scholarship in finishing third in the Miss Alaska Pageant of 1984. Sarah Palin had already won the Miss Wasilla Beauty Pageant, an impossible feat for anyone lacking loads of congeniality. For Miss Alaska, Sarah Palin played the flute in the talent portion of the contest again in stark contrast to John Deasy who slashed arts spending in 2012.
While John Deasy has virtually destroyed staff moral in his two and a half years as LAUSD superintendent, Sarah Palin enjoyed approval ratings as high as 94% while governor of Alaska and is universally credited with single-handedly restoring the morale of the Republican Party when John McCain named her his Vice-Presidential running mate in August of 2008. McCain/Palin promptly surged ahead of Obama/Biden in national polls and remained there for quite some time. Newsweek and Time both put her on their covers. Morale was never higher in the Republican Party because of Palin.
Even at the nadir of her popularity while governor of Alaska in May of 2009, Sarah Palin received only a 42 percent vote of no confidence according to Hays Research, less than half of Deasy’s 91 percent.
Sarah Palin’s 400-page book Going Rogue: An American Life sold 300,000 copies the day it was released, a million copies in two weeks, spent six weeks on top of the New York Times Best Seller List, was the best-selling nonfiction book of the year in 2009, and sold 3,472,639 hardback copies in its first two years. In contrast, Deasy’s book, the 184-page An Analysis of Leadership: Investigating Superintendent Leadership in Context Within a Standards-Based, Non-Optional Reform Initiative fared less well with readers. Its release remains controversial as it is dated prior to his enrolling at the University of Louisville which accepted the book as Deasy’s dissertation. As Deasy’s PhD sponsor Robert Felner was later convicted of tax evasion and fraud and sentenced to 63 months in a federal penitentiary, it is questionable whether anyone besides Deasy ever read it at all. At 184 pages, one might reasonably ask if the book was even read by Deasy himself.
In 2010, Deasy became superintendent without so much as an interview, let alone a national search. McCain met Palin at the National Governor’s Meeting in February of 2008 and was “extraordinarily impressed.” On August 24, Palin’s candidacy was discussed in depth by McCain’s top advisors who reached a consensus and McCain personally spoke to Palin on the phone that same day. After an interview with Palin at his home on August 27, McCain formally “offered her the job.”
In 2010, Deasy immediately began firing what would become, at least at the time, a record number of teachers and promptly established himself as the most divisive superintendent in the country since Michelle Rhee’s similar teacher carnage and cheating scandals in Washington DC. He remains the most divisive in LAUSD history. In 2012, as a result of his mishandling of the Miramonte Child Abuse Scandal, Deasy’s teacher jails would swell from a few prisoners to more than five hundred and he would subsequently break his own teacher-firing record. He would displace more than a thousand primarily inner-city teachers from their positions and place them on track to be fired as well by ordering principals not to hire them under any circumstances. So much for teachers dedicating their lives to serving the city’s most desperate and needy children. Deasy views the acceptance of such a challenge and this level of dedication as a liability to be stamped out.
Simultaneous and in stark contrast to Deasy’s carnage beginning in 2010 and ever-increasing divisiveness which ultimately resulted in both the 2013 No Confidence Vote and failed Performance Review, Sarah Palin launched her Pink Elephant Movement which set about building coalitions and support for women candidates in both houses of Congress as well as State Capitols. Her success rate was 7 to 2 in the Senate, 7 to 6 in The House, and 6 to 3 when it came to State Governorships. Even Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnell’s political fortunes changed overnight with Palin’s endorsement allowing her to defeat the “unbeatable” Republican Establishment candidate Mike Castle in the Delaware primary. In November, Palin released her second book, America by Heart, which hit number two on the New York Times Best Seller List in its second week of release and was the fifth best-selling nonfiction book of 2010. Also in 2010, Sarah Palin was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
Who would make a more effective superintendent?
John Deasy or Sarah Palin?