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UTLA: 85% of teachers rate superintendent below average

UTLA president Warren Fletcher layoff hearings

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

UTLA President Warren Fletcher in 2012. He says the union's teachers aren't happy with the superintendent's performance.

L.A. Unified's teachers' union has again come out swinging at the superintendent, releasing a survey showing 85% of teachers gave Superintendent John Deasy a below average or poor job performance rating.

“The district is not headed in the right direction,” said United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher.

Criticism of L.A. Unified's superintendents has ebbed and flowed from UTLA leadership for more than a decade. Much of the criticism comes at budget time, when the superintendent proposes a spending plan and the teachers union criticizes those initiatives. Most recently, Fletcher and Deasy went head to head over the teachers' union's criticism of the Deasy-led program to serve breakfast in the classroom. Deasy won that skirmish.

The 25-question survey, sent out this spring, asked unionized teachers whether Deasy is spending L.A. Unified's money wisely, evaluating teachers fairly and abiding by the teachers union contract. The final question asked them to rate Deasy’s overall performance.

“In the current environment, the teachers, the classroom people do not feel respected and do not feel like their work is honored and that makes it very difficult for them to do their best work,” Fletcher said.

Gardena elementary school teacher Dorcas Green is among the 66 percent who gave Deasy a “poor” grade. She said an increase in testing under his watch is taking away time she could be spending on making sure students understand lessons.

She said even her students are tired of it.

"Their poor little hearts are like: ‘Do we have to take another test, teacher?’ And my only answer, day after day, is ‘yes,’ ” Green said.

Deasy’s office said he had no comment.

The leaders of the non-profit groups Alliance for a Better Community, the United Way, and the Community Coalition issued a statement in Deasy's defense.

"It’s just a shame that a few top officials at United Teachers Los Angeles spend so much time picking fights with the superintendent, when our collective focus should be on raising student achievement and preparing children for academic and professional success after high school."

A quarter of teachers’ union members answered the survey. Fletcher said he wants L.A. Unified’s seven-member board to take a hard look at the results.

But he’s not advocating that Deasy be fired. He said that's up to the teachers' union board of representatives.

The survey cost about $25,000 to administer. And that rubbed at least one member of UTLA's board of directors the wrong way.

“I think it’s something we could have accomplished at a much lesser cost,” Ingrid Villeda said. “It was an unnecessary tactic. We should figure out different ways that don’t cost so much money to get our point across,” she said.

A survey conducted by UTLA earlier this year returned an overwhelming vote of “no confidence” against Deasy.

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