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LA Supt. vows to thwart school board resolution to reduce class size... 'a directive to hire every human being on the West Coast,' LA Supt calls the order... Will L.A. continue expansion of charters, privatization, and union busting?... Elected school board gets its test -- in LA after victory

How well does an elected school board work in a major city? Chicago continues facing the problems caused by mayoral control and a seven-member Chicago Board of Education appointed from the ranks of the plutocracy and its sycophants by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is now a test case for how an elected school board might work and the powers it will have over a superintendent who defies it. Can an elected school board thwart the next attacks on public schools from corporate "school reform"? Three years ago, Los Angeles citizens stopped the attempt by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to get mayoral control, and now he's gone. The recent LA school board election saw the election of a Board majority that was not the favorites of the plutocracy.

And so, when the first major majority vote of the new school board is to reduce class sizes, the Superintendent simply tells the city he won't do it.

Los Angeles Schools Supt. John Deasy (above) vowed to ignore a Board of Education vote to reduce class size.Leonie Haimson at Class Size Matters recently analyzed the situation in Los Angeles, as republished on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Saturday, July 13, 2013 Los Angeles: ground zero in the fight over class size and corporate reform

The Los Angeles school board has a new president, Dr. Richard Vladovic, and a new member, Monica Ratliff, a working fifth grade teacher, who won her seat despite being hugely outspent more than 10-1 by the corporate reform crowd, including $1 million from NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

Vladovic was elected president by 5-2. The two votes against him came from outgoing president Monica Garcia and her ally Tamar Galatzan.

The Los Angeles school district also has, for the first time in years, an increase in funding from the state, and has decided to spend a large portion to reverse the increase in class sizes that has driven class sizes in many classrooms to 30 to 40 students or more.

The class size reduction resolution was approved by the board 5-2. The two votes against it came, again, from Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan. The board postponed a vote on a competing resolution, introduced by Galatzan and supported by Superintendent John Deasy, that would have given schools more “flexibility” in spending these funds.

Deasy had already pushed through a program to give iPads to all LA students, and expand digital learning to teach the common core, all favorite experiments of the corporate reform crowd and especially the Gates Foundation.

Deasy was appointed straight from the Gates Foundation, which, despite the voluminous evidence for its efficacy in boosting learning and narrowing the achievement gap, remains the nation's most powerful opponent of reducing class size. After the vote of the school board in favor of reducing class size, Deasy said he would ignore their wishes and would implement Galatzan's resolution:

"The Board voted down the directive to have me come and do it," said Deasy, referring to Galatzan's local spending resolution: "we're doing it anyway. If they had voted to prevent me from doing it -- well they didn't think of that."

He said his spending plan will somehow combine both resolutions, including the one supporting class size reduction, which he derisively described as a “directive to hire every human being on the West Coast.” The LA principals and teachers unions subsequently sent a letter of protest to the board about Deasy’s intention to defy their decision.

Below is a video clip of the most dramatic part of the board’s debate over class size, as Steve Zimmer, the new vice-president, also a former school teacher, explains the hypocrisy of those who opposed this resolution by showing how many LA charters boast about their smaller classes. (Deasy is proud of the fact that LA is now the largest charter authorizer in the United States.)

Here is a description/explanation from a LA insider, originally posted on Diane Ravitch’s blog:

With mounting irritation, Zimmer starts shouting—quoting and throwing the paper printouts from the charters websites wildly over his shoulder (where the charters’ websites’ main page touts and specifically cites their exact student-to-teacher ratios.)

This was breathtaking. You can’t see this because of the camera angle, but Board Member Galatzan was visibly angry at this point. A little subtext here.

Both Galatzan and Monica Garcia have strongly backed the private charters in general — and the ones mentioned by Zimmer in particular, while at the same time, lambasting teachers in the traditional public schools and those teachers’ union, UTLA for doing a lousy job, and “obstructing reform” and being “defenders of a failed status quo,” and on and on… (In the process, Galatzan and Garcia are parroting the talking points of the “reform” organizations who pumped millions into their campaigns… but that’s another story).

In 2009, Galatzan and Garcia also voted to raise class size in the traditional public schools — and saying nothing about the ratios at their beloved charter schools. While the state budget was a contributing factor to the vote, Galatzan and Garcia also cited in part the following reasons for raising the class size in the traditional public schools:

1) “Lowering class size is just about teachers unions wanting more members and more dues, and more power… with no proof that it helps kids.”

2) “Lowering class size is about advancing adult interests at the expense of children’s interests.”

3) “Lowering class size is just so teachers, who have it easy enough already, will have it even easier, with less work required from less students.”

Zimmer makes brief reference to these objection ”to those who think that (lowering) class size is solely about jobs.. ”

For Galatzan and Garcia, they take a seemingly contradictory (hypocritical?) stance on this, as again, they bend over backwards supporting and praising the charter schools whose success is in part due to their low class size—the low class size the charters tout on their websites.

Anyway, back to the video.

Galatzan starts picking up the papers that Zimmer flings indiscriminately over his head and slapping them down angrily on the counter, and says to him, “Are you gonna clean this up?”

Not flinching a bit, Zimmer continues his laser-like focus, not even looking sideways at Galatzan as he snaps, “I’ll clean it up!” as if to say, “Don’t butt in… I’m on a roll here.”

Again… a breathtaking performance.

It is especially breathtaking for those of us here in NYC, whose children continue to suffer from rising class sizes because of mayoral control and a lack of democracy, with a school board whose decisions are in lock step with their master, Michael Bloomberg.

[There is a also video of the June 18 school board meeting, showing Los Angeles parents, many of them Mexican-American, pleading with the school board to pass the resolution that had been introduced in support of reducing class size. It is well worth watching in its entirety. At the behest of some LA parents and activist Robert Skeels, I wrote a short research brief supporting the resolution that is posted here.]



Comments:

January 9, 2014 at 1:02 AM

By: Rene Diedrich

Zimmer, Vlad, and the Bopsie Twins

In the time since this was posted, Zimmer\'s performance proved to be just that. He has not only voted in favor of wrongfully terminating hunders teachers without even a glimpse f the charges against them, he has voted for RiFs, reconstitutions, deep cuts and a new improved contract for John Deasy, who takes the term hypocrite to a new level by demanding high standards from ranches in his data driven district but has done the following since he was installed:\r1. Understaffed administration at Miramonte ES ( half of what schools half it\'s size have) despite perv infestation, language and poverty issues\r2. Failed to infirm parents and CTC about teacher\'s alleged anti s, therefor putting children at risk. \r3. Has assailed teachers a every turn \r Public dismissals, crowded teacher jails with senior teachers about to vest using lies and innuendo that ruins their lives and takes their livelihoods \r4. He defiantly helped himself to $134 million in title 1 funds for \"tests\" which these funds are not supposed to purchase. When DAC a parent committee elected to oversee this money dared to question this, Deasy dismantled the committee unilaterally and attempted to shut them up by sending campus. Ops to their children\'s schools where they were banned . When this failed to work Deasy sent the cops to the parents\' homes TI threaten them with deportation and other ugly fates. \r5. Participated n unethical scams with Eli Broad and Bill Gates to change the laws about Stull evaluations , testing, teacher seniority and school choice. His efforts to influence bills about teacher dismissals have been thwarted a few times. However, Deasy fires teachers without due process, operating as this article describes, with impunity. He did get one new law in place, but I do not think he was pleased about this. The media did not put much out there on it either. Bit Jerry Brown alluded to DEASY\'s comportment with the Miramonte scandal as the reason why he passed the law that makes school officials criminally culpable for concealing child predators as LAUSD is notorious for. Notably, Deasy broke this law as soon as it was passed by ignoring the egregious misconduct of several officials guilty f protecting an accused pervert and failing to report real culprits to CTC. In fact, Deasy has received a number of chastising letters for abuse of process as he tried to intimidate innocent teachers ( mostly senior teachers about to vest who have clean files until his arrival) jailed in cold dead offices on bogus charges. \r6. IPads fiasco ( enough said) which includes breaking policy enacted by the board just a few years ago that banned wifi due to the carcinogenic threats it clearly poses to children\'s health .half a billion is supposed tot go for revamped infrastructure when this danger is clear and present. To get an idea of how much money that is consider that the state only needs a billion to provide free preschools to every child whose parents want them there in CA. \r7. Deasy failed to meet a deadline for free lunch applications that would bring $200 million in title one funds to schools in Watts, Florence area, etc. With a week to get it in, Deasy devotes himself to more drama using an a obedient media hack staff to mock the state publicly for insisting on protocol when anyone can see that\" if you live in Watts or South Central you live in abject poverty\" . He said the state can come to the hood and verify this personally. No word on where this will lend.,\r8. In the clandestine operation to blow money and bankrupt the district and perhaps the city with bond measure money squandered on overpriced gizmos ( i love these things and believe they can indeed transform education but not with Deasy in charge) , Deasy also spent $60 million on a common core program LAUSD cannot use until 2015. By then the rights to use it will be about to expire. If we are lucky there will be 6 months of CCSS For that money. Actually , if we are lucky, the whole thing will be buried by then and Deasy will be in prison where he belongs.\rThere is so much more but why bother? When Zimmer votes for this guy to stay and you see what we have in LA it gets to be depressing. There is no truth or justice. There is ASTRO turf and billionaires buying board seats to push their agenda, which is not about the kids or civil rights as they love to say. It is about $$$. Zimmer boasted to reporters that LAUSD is a Fortune 500 company. A true teacher would not grin like Gomer Pyle while mouthing these words. A real teacher knows schools are not a business. As Zimmer alsio stated with said grin, \"the pendulum has swung the other way\" in reference toDeasy\'s zealous purges of teachers and voracious recruitment of subs and TFA interns to replace these experienced and highly qualified faculty members . There may be truth in that, but what does it tell you about Zimmer and his commitment to reduced class size!? Sure, he won over the affluent parent his district is full of. But I know some of the white suburban moms on the west side who are very active in education politics and their children\'s schools, the bloom is off the rose. What you say is never as meaningful as what you do. Deasy and Zimmer are proof of this.

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