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A typical classroom.
The Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles announced a tentative agreement Tuesday that aims to improve schools by giving them more freedom to make changes without district approval. Individual teachers, school personnel and parents will now be able to make decisions based on what they think is best for their specific communities.
Schools will now have more control over their own budgets, teacher placement, schedules, student tests and the curriculum. Still, local schools must be sure to abide by state and federal education laws. Furthermore, the deal reached between LAUSD and UTLA now prohibits charter schools and third parties from bidding to run low-performing schools in the area, which was a possibility under the Public School Choice reform mandated by the LAUSD board this August. UTLA President Warren Fletcher expects the union to approve the proposed reforms before LAUSD’s board meeting on Dec. 13.
One issue not addressed in this agreement is that of the long-standing conflict between the union and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy concerning the role of student testing in teacher evaluations. The tentative agreement still needs to be approved by the teachers union and school board. While some are calling the agreement a victory for students, there are many controversial issues it does not address.
How will this help struggling teachers or principals improve? Will teacher seniority, pay and tenure be addressed? How about teacher evaluations or professional development? And what do parents think? Have they had a seat at the negotiating table?
John Deasy, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)
Yolie Flores, CEO of Communities for Teaching Excellence and former member of the board of education at the Los Angeles Unified School District