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Ramon Cortines resigns from Scholastic board

L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines resigned Thursday from the board of Scholastic Inc., a position that paid him compensation worth more than $150,000 last year.

Cortines’ dual role with the company and the district received scrutiny in the wake of an article on that subject last week in The Times. In defending his position with Scholastic in a recent interview, Cortines said he avoided any issue at the district involving the leading educational publishing company. And his senior staff said this recusal included any decision involving academic intervention programs.

Scholastic provides the district’s primary reading intervention program for high schools. And, as of this year, Scholastic’s program also became a key component for middle schools. The company has earned more than $5.2 million from the L.A. Unified School District since Cortines joined the school system as its No. 2 administrator in April 2008. He became superintendent in December 2008.

Cortines is paid $250,000 a year by L.A. Unified.

The superintendent’s brief letter to Scholastic's president and chief executive officer, Richard Robinson, read as follows:

“Per my telephone conversation with you and attorney Andy Hedden on Thursday, February 18, 2010, this correspondence serves as a formal notice of resignation from the corporate board at Scholastic Corporation. A hard copy of this correspondence has been mailed to you.”

Copies of the letter were sent to members of the Board of Education and school district general counsel David Holmquist.

Board members had been placing no pressure on Cortines to resign from Scholastic last week, but it’s unclear whether their views changed in the wake of increased public awareness of the matter.

-- Howard Blume

Photo: L.A. Times file

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Comments () | Archives (43)

Resigning from Scholastic is the first step. The next one is resigning from LAUSD. And the last one is a criminal investigation.

Well, someone that runs LAUSD with an ounce of ethics!

Almost all educational publishers grab onto big name school people, especially from Texas, for authors or "consultants" to help them sell math, science, social studies, etc. , textbook series. This has been going on forever. Major authors have great homes and drive big cars. So it goes.

Yes! Great news.

A lot of uneducated people here in this comments section. The issue had been disclosed when he was hired, and for some reason they were ok with it. For the Supt. to not be involved in these types of reading intervention programs is unacceptable. They must not have conflicts like this so that they can do their jobs without any restrictions.

are they hiring? i could run the entire LAUSD at random and do as good a job as they're doing now. i would charge something like, let's say, 70k usd for this service. that would be enough to pay my mortgage and the property taxes that go to the schools and the catfood i live off of.

Why am I not surprised? I, as an LAUSD teacher, can't even get paid on time or correctly (still trying to collect my November pay), but I bet this guy's check is always direct deposited!

I'd love to see Cortines teach a semester of the Read180 or Language! program to high school students. Give him classes of 30 kids each - most of them with disciplinary issues - no assistants, an unsympathetic department chair and dean, and a long list of crazy subs for when he has to go to training. Add to his schedule a couple of classes of, say, freshman English - where the pervasive attitudes of the kids are "learned helplessness" and "I don't like your class, so I'm not going to do your work, and I'll take this stupid class in summer school." But he couldn't handle it.

Teaching is a business, apparently - something both he, Scholastic, and many charter schools, seem to be better at than understanding kids.

I'm a longtime LA Times subscriber -- but I'd just recently thought about canceling my subscription only because I get most of my news online.

BUT, I agree with other readers who are complimenting the Times for their investigative reporting.
You've kept me as a subscriber -- if only to keep a few more dollars headed into the Times budget for more great reporting like this.
Thank you.

They are ALL corrupt and need to be investigated, brought to trial, remunerations seized and given back to the city and then put behind bars for a very long time!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and remember how publicly he made the "magnanimous" show of taking a furlough day "without pay" because he wouldn't want anyone else to do something he wasn't also willing to do? Does this mean teachers can now start publishing materials or making arrangements with publishers and requiring their students or schools to purchase them, too, as long as they get a kickback?

our elected officials assume this "low level" of graft as a perk, as a matter of course..."no big deal, EVERYONE does it".

From top to bottom our country is rife with graft of this sort and is one of the major reasons that the u.s. finds itself in such systemic disarray.

This upcoming election cycle THROW THEM ALL OUT.
Seriously.....ALL of them.
Any political survivors will have gotten the People's message....

There are teachers who want to teach, all subjects, yet we have special interests, education laws and assessments that are controlling what is going on in the classrooms. Why? To see if our kids are learning? Most of the Open Court materials is too fast paced and don't make any life connections to our student's backgrounds. Then we have this Supt. who has side jobs and can't even handle L.A.U.S.D. business.

Is he making money off our students? Is he focusing on his stock options or how to save teacher jobs?

Thank you L.A. Times, I hope you guys keep your superb jobs on finding out what is really going on within those bureaucratic walls . Keep these money grabbing people on their toes. We had enough in the City of L.A.

Can you say conflict of interest? I bet a lot of hard working people would like to be making just a what he made from just his Scholastic Inc position. They paid him compensation worth more than $150,000 last year. And he made $250,000 a year at L.A. Unified. Wow he's doing pretty well. I think too well. I smell something rotten. His resigning from Scholastic should start the ball rolling. I would like to see an investigation into this asap. let's see how far behind his resigning from LAUSD is? I bet it's right around the corner.

Thursday from the board of Scholastic Inc., a position that paid him compensation worth more than $150,000 last year.

Cortines’ dual role with the company and the district received scrutiny in the wake of an article on that subject last week in The Times. In defending his position with Scholastic in a recent interview, Cortines said he avoided any issue at the district involving the leading educational publishing company. And his senior staff said this recusal included any decision involving academic intervention programs.

Scholastic provides the district’s primary reading intervention program for high schools. And, as of this year, Scholastic’s program also became a key component for middle schools. The company has earned more than $5.2 million from the L.A. Unified School District since Cortines joined the school system as its No. 2 administrator in April 2008. He became superintendent in December 2008.

Cortines is paid $250,000 a year by L.A. Unified.

Apparently $400,ooo or the equivalent of what the President of the United States makes seemed logical to Mr. Cortines.

So LAUSD is still going to be spending millions with Scholastic and Cthe Good Doctor, who cashed a check from UTLA for a permit to conduct a rally, and then revoked the permit (but still has that money), has revoked permits for differing views to be aired by community members, is STILL going to be getting dividends and has the cheek to try to make this look like a virtue and himself as a victim. At least Tiger Woods apologized...

The tone of all the posted comments is about the same, but as many people have come to find out, Cortines isn't the brightest bulb, kind of like the mayor.

News Flash! They're not the only ones.

An email was recently sent to LAUSD employees by the Monica Garcia, Board President, recruiting Mexicans and Mexican-Americans for the Sports Games for Mexicans Aboard. This is a qualifying event for the MEXICO National Olympics to identify athletes to compete for MEXICO'S International Olympic team.

Besides using an elected position - along with District resources and time - to help recruit athletes to compete against the United States, what does this have to do with LAUSD business? I think you know the answer.

Further, attachments to the email were labeled:

Invitación - Ingles.pdf(1MB)
and
Invitación - Español.pdf(1MB).

As far as I know, everyone who works for LAUSD has to know English. If not, things are even worse than I thought.

Howard Blume and the LA Times have proven to have a mixed record of education reporting recently. Although Mr. Blume will ignore recent research regarding the effectiveness of charter school in relation to traditional schools in an obvious attempt to spur change for change sake in LAUSD, he will then turn and expose the district leadership as borderline corrupt with this Scholastic debacle. After poring over his recent articles regarding local public school reform, it has become clear that he will use his bully pulpit with the Times to steer the public in the direction of supporting a camouflaged privatization of our public schools. It also has become clear that he has chosen sides with the school board, the mayor, the charters, and Cortines, and in an effort to appear objective and balanced - when all his published written record indicates otherwise - he'll throw a bone to those with suspicions of his intents by revealing something unsavory about those inside his camp, namely Cortines. This is an attempt to throw the public off his scent - one of blatant support for those attempting smear teachers and parents in their Times-supported efforts to bust up LAUSD and its union. LAUSD is in the process of eating its own, and the Times is going to have blood on its hands after the acrid dust of this one finally settles.

 
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