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Deasy blames LA school district politics for blocking 'reforms'

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy

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File: Former L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy talks to reporters at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles in February 2012.

The day after John Deasy announced he was stepping down as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, he declared politics thwarted "student-centered" education reforms nationwide. 

"It does concern me," Deasy told NPR's Morning Edition Friday. "I think there's always the delicate balance of how slow you're willing to go, and then you have to square that with looking youth in the eye and say, 'Well, it's not your turn this year,' and that's difficult to do."

Deasy's supporters have long painted the Los Angeles Unified's divided board as dysfunctional.

The board is ideologically split: on one side, members are elected with the help of the teachers union, which pushes for lower class sizes and decries the emphasis on testing. On the other are those backed by self-described education reformers, who advocate test-score-based accountability, charter school expansion and changes to teacher tenure. 


After LA schools resignation, Deasy talks about what he's considering next

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

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Former Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles, California, February 6, 2012.

Former Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy spoke out Friday morning on where he might be headed next, saying he's considering jobs in youth corrections or superintendent development and even political office. 

After a day of silence, Deasy gave an early interview Friday to NPR's Steve Inskeep. He later joined a press call hosted by Students Matter, the group behind the recent Vergara lawsuit where a judge ruled that the laws behind teacher tenure were unconstitutional. He revealed details of his possible next steps during the Students Matter call following a question from KPCC.

"I'm not going to speak about them specifically but I would give you the general topics. One would be youth corrections," he said. "Another would be working and supporting the development of superintendents, and the third would be a consideration for political office." (Click above to listen to audio from the call.)


Cortines faces challenging tasks as he steps in behind departing superintendent

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File: Then L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines attends a school meeting in April 2009.

Educator Ramon Cortines takes over as Los Angeles Unified superintendent with experience that positions him well as head of a large school district, but with a long task list and a history that has some questioning his selection.

Cortines, 82, starts Monday when Superintendent John Deasy steps down and assumes the role of a district advisor on special assignment through December.

Beset by critics, some on the school board that employs him, and facing mounting problems that painted his administration as dysfunctional, Deasy negotiated a separation agreement to retreat from the job he held for three and a half years.

Following behind a superintendent leaving in the midst of controversy won't be new for Cortines. Each of the previous two times Cortines has taken on L.A. Unified’s top job, it’s been after the contentious ouster of a superintendent.


Teachers look to more collaboration in wake of Deasy resignation

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

File: United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl (left) outside a downtown L.A. court house after the Vergara v. California decision earlier this year.

Striking a conciliatory tone, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl called Thursday’s resignation of Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy an opportunity for a “shift towards a more collaborative management style.”

Addressing reporters at the teachers union headquarters, Caputo-Pearl criticized the outgoing superintendent for “autocratic decisions,” which he said had consequences for students and learning.

Referring to the iPad “fiasco” and the MISIS student data system “crisis,” Caputo-Pearl said: “John Deasy championed those decisions even when consequences hit students in the face.”

The union president’s harshest criticism came in his description of Deasy’s “corporate driven model” of education, which he said “undermines equity and access.”

Deasy has been unavailable for comment since his resignation was announced. While he steps down as superintendent, he will serve on "special assignment" with the district until the end of the year.


LA Unified superintendent John Deasy resigns; Cortines named interim replacement

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

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File: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy speaks during a press conference at South Region High School #2 in Los Angeles on Feb. 6, 2012.

Embattled superintendent John Deasy resigned Thursday from the Los Angeles Unified School District, ending his nearly four-year tenure as head of the nation’s second-largest school district. Former superintendent Ramon C. Cortines will replace him on an interim basis, the Los Angeles Board of Education announced. Colleagues and detractors have taken to Twitter to express their thoughts and concerns. What do you think of Deasy's resignation? Let us know in the comments below.

John Deasy's resignation letter | Social media response