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LAUSD & UTLA battle over Public School Choice as outside groups push for broad reform

A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school bus.
A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school bus.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Leaders from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the United Teachers Los Angeles union (UTLA) have been in closed-door discussions this week. What exactly they’re negotiating remains a bit of a mystery.

The 3-year teacher contract expired this past June. But according to UTLA, full contract negotiations haven’t yet begun. The primary focus seems to be about Public School Choice (PSC), which allows outside groups to apply to take control of failing schools.

In August, the school board agreed to keep charter schools out of the next round of Public School Choice. Insiders say that in return, the board hoped that UTLA would agree to a district-wide reform contract by November 1. But will they? And if not, what other proposals are on the table?

Meanwhile, several outside groups, including The United Way, The Urban League, Alliance for a Better Community, Families in Schools, Asian Pacific American Legal Center and Communities for Teaching Excellence, have joined the fight to pressure both UTLA and LAUSD to “stop putting the interests of adults ahead of children.” The groups are pushing for changes largely supported by Superintendent John Deasy, such as giving schools more freedom to do their own hiring, making student achievement part of any teacher evaluation process, raising the bar on tenure eligibility and allowing bonuses and raises for high-performing teachers. Even if Deasy supports these reforms, it remains to be seen how various board members will respond.


What – if anything – will be agreed to by Nov. 1? Do LAUSD board members support Deasy’s proposals? Or might some fall towards UTLA? How are rank and file union members responding to all this? Will student test scores become part of how we grade teachers? We’ll talk with the top dogs in the fight, Superintendent John Deasy and UTLA President Warren Fletcher.



John Deasy, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)