John Deasy, head of the Los Angeles Unified School District
This is an inopportune time for school districts in California and the Los Angeles Unified School District is no exception.
At the first board meeting of the year, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy disclosed a $543 million budget shortfall for the next academic year, the possibility that thousands of employees could face layoffs, and that months of school could be lost. Furthermore, even if Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed tax hikes are approved, some analysts insist that school districts will still have to make spending cuts. Also the board is asking the superintendent to look at district boundaries and consider greater flexibility for students to attend different schools within their districts. LAUSD board president Monica Garcia said her colleagues are concerned about a recently published study of the district by The Education Trust – West, which indicates that lower-income, Latino, and African-American students are unintentionally being educated by less effective teachers. Accordingly, losing out on good teachers is doubly detrimental in light of findings released by joint researchers at Harvard and Columbia that demonstrates good teachers, in addition to raising test scores, have a wide-ranging and longer-lasting positive effect on the lives of pupils in terms of teenage-pregnancy rates, college matriculation, and adult earnings. Truant students could be given a break after Judge Michael Nash, the presiding judge of L.A.’s Juvenile Court, has put in place new guidelines that dismiss truancy citations for students who were late to class and can prove they were on their way to school when they were cited. Patt discusses all of this and more with LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
John Deasy, LAUSD Superintendent