Take Two for March 06, 2013

LAUSD elections: Superintendent John Deasy on board winners, future of schools

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy  sp

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

As we heard earlier on the program, the races for L.A. School Board seats have been watched closely around the country. That's because the results will have a huge influence on the policies of the nation's second-largest school district.

RELATED: View KPCC's election results and full coverage

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is the man charged with running L.A. Unified, and he joins us to discuss election results and the future of the city's schools.

Interview Highlights:

On how he's feeling about the school board election results:
"School Board races are like elections and they take up a certain amount of oxygen and energy. Administration has been laser-like focused on teaching and learning and raising student outcomes. We're watching the highest level of student achievement in our history in LAUSD. We just saw the school district post the single greatest gain in the country in the number of students taking AP courses and passing those courses. So the agenda about the improvement of opportunity and outcome for youth is what we have been and continue to be focused on. We look forward to the board whenever that is decided. I guess there is one more race still to be decided in the valley I think it will be a runoff. All board members uh. My goal is to work  with them as a team so that all students rights are honored."

On the results of District 4. Kate Anderson lost to incumbent Steve Zimmer:
"So I did not pay a great deal of attention to the campaign literature. So I am probably less informed on that issue. It seems to me of what I read and heard was that both were very supportive of the policies that we're trying to do. So to me It looks to me like a continuation of the support that I saw from and with continued respect for BM Z for supporting students and improving conditions in schools, and so I don't actually see a huge change in that."

On the big money that poured into the school board race:
"So a couple of things. One is I don't have that kind of money, but if I did our country allows us to invest that money wherever they see fit. So for years, unions have invested money in races. I mean, take a look at the last mayoral race in DC. And a lot of that money came from outside of Washington, DC. It seems that it's a slightly off-balance. If Ms. Ravitch finds it repugnant to democracy, then where has been the criticism for the millions and millions and millions of dollars that have been poured through labor unions, which I'm a huge supporter of and their right to do that? So I don't quite get the controversy in this case."

On whether we can expect future school board elections to pull big donations:
"I think people are very excited and energized about what's happening in Los Angeles. I mean, Los Angeles, as I've always said, is America, only sooner. The reforms that are taking place in our schools have been getting attention because they are getting results. And I think people are interested in making sure that continues to happen. I think people are wanting to invest so that LA continues to serve students well is a very good thing for our country."

On the support of including test results in teacher evaluations:
"So first of all I am overwhelmed by the number of teachers who want and continue to reach out to me. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds who reach out and say they want this evaluation to take place. They helped construct this evaluations and they want a path to know how to get better and affirm good work. I think that in many ways there is detracting noise from our obligation to both follow the law and to support our teachers."

On what he's learned from past superintendents' struggle with reform:
"Great question. What I've done from the very beginning to try to anchor every single solitary thing I and my team do to support the students. That is our number-one responsibility. Students' rights, that they get a vastly better opportunity than they've had historically, and that anchor is very clear to me that that becomes the litmus test of everything we do. Will everybody be supportive or will some people be concerned? Of course they will be. It's to listen to that and to be a responsible leader for the number-one reason we open the doors everyday, and that is the students. So they can have what we've had, that's you and I. Which is able to participate in this American Dream. Have a roof over our head. That is what we try to think going forward. Try to lower the focus on adult issues and raise the focus on youth issues.


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