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L.A. school system poised to hire senior Gates Foundation official [Updated]

Los Angeles Unified School District officials are poised to bring in a senior administrator from the influential Gates Foundation to help run the nation’s second-largest school system, a senior district official confirmed.

[Updated at 12:50 p.m.: In a closed session, the Board of Education has just voted to hire John Deasy as deputy superintendent. Details about his contract will be released shortly, a district spokesman said.]

The choice of John Deasy, scheduled for a vote Tuesday by the district's Board of Education, already has resulted in a complication. The school board’s vice president, Yolie Flores, recently accepted a job funded by the foundation and, therefore, won’t be voting on Deasy’s hiring.

Deasy is being considered for deputy superintendent in the LAUSD. That job’s previous holder was Ramon C. Cortines who, within a year, moved up to the top job in December 2008. Since then, Cortines, 77, has worked without a senior deputy, partly as an acknowledgment of the district’s ongoing budget woes.

Deasy’s hiring is likely to launch speculation that he could succeed Cortines, who is not expected to stay more than another two years.

In recent months, the aide most closely resembling a top deputy has been Matt Hill, who reports to Cortines on some of the district’s central and most sensitive reform efforts. Hill’s salary is privately funded by the locally based Broad Foundation.  And some of Hill’s lieutenants are funded by the private Wasserman Foundation, also based locally.

All three foundations have focused heavily on changing how teachers are evaluated. Such efforts have been viewed with suspicion by the leadership of United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s teachers union, as have similar-themed initiatives advanced by Flores. Union leaders said they distrust test-score-based evaluation and oppose the elimination of seniority protections.

Flores announced this month that she would not seek a second four-year term. Instead, she’ll head a nonprofit focused on teacher effectiveness, with startup funding of $3.5 million from the Seattle-based Gates Foundation.  During the final year of her term, she’ll work part-time for the as-yet unnamed entity at a salary of $144,000.

“I now have the opportunity to lead a new education-advocacy organization that will focus on supporting efforts to assist and improve teaching here in Los Angeles and in other schools districts in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Florida,” she said in a release announcing her move.

The Gates Foundation is funding efforts in those states to develop teacher-evaluation systems that are at least partly based on student test scores. A consortium of five local charter-school management organizations received a $60-million grant for that purpose in November. Only in L.A. did the money go to independently managed charter schools rather than the school district.

At last week’s school board meeting, one of these organizations, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, had business before the board. The charters for three of its schools were up for renewal.

Flores recused herself on the matter, officials said.

Whether she needed to take that step is debatable. The vote on the charters had no direct effect on either her new employment or the Gates Foundation, but Flores said in a recent interview that she intended to exercise caution.

“I do want to be extra certain that there is no conflict of interest as I finish my term on the board,” she said. “I will also take into consideration any perceived conflict.”

One senior official, who could not be quoted because he was not speaking for the school system, said there could be potential conflict questions “on everything related to teacher effectiveness and contract/seniority reforms.”

In an interview, Cortines said Flores made it clear she would not vote on the decision to employ Deasy.

Last week’s charter school renewals were not especially controversial, but a trickier issue could be the fate of eight low-performing schools and nine new campuses that will be eligible for takeover from groups inside or outside the school system, including the companies awarded the Gates grants.

The district itself has received only one Gates grant recently, $1.3 million for improving algebra instruction, officials said.

At the Gates Foundation, Deasy has served as deputy director of education since September 2008. Before that, he was superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland’s second-largest school system and the nation’s 18th largest district with 134,000 students. Before that, he headed the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Earlier in his career, he taught high school biology, chemistry, calculus and English at the high school level and coached high school sports.

In all three districts he led, “he championed fair teacher and administrator evaluations, pay-for-performance, staff development and training, and data-based decision-making,” the Gates Foundation said when it hired him.

Deasy was on hand locally in November when the charter schools won the teacher-evaluation grant. He called the initiative part of “a fundamental obligation to serve the civil rights of youth” and spoke of students’ rights “to have a highly effective teacher in front of them every day. Nothing matters more.”

-- Howard Blume

Comments () | Archives (18)

HAHAH what a sham!

First Yolie is going to the Gates foundation, then her replacement comes from within the Gates foundation. Looks like player trading to me at its best!

Before you folk all get to thinking Gates is the answer to your problems,
you should know he has done NOTHING for his home state of Washington.
He lets the poor children of the state languish with no access to the internet and with impoverished school districts. He is a grand stander. ALL offshore "charity" are scams because the money is UNTRACEABLE.

What's wrong with LAUSD schools? I used to teach high school math there.
What is wrong is that the funding for the schools goes to the top heavy ADMINISTRATION instead of the students and teachers.
GET RID of the administration and have local PTA administer the schools, pay the teachers and funnel extra money to helping the students achieve with much needed tools, like laptops, etc.

Bring back the arts. Bring back sports. The kids need an outlet for energy.

Quit looking at the tax pool as a cup to dip into. It's not.


Anyone who had influence over or an affect on public school children and public school teachers must have their salaries made public.

The Gates Foundation and its small schools initiative has already cost NYC public schools a bundle of money and hasn't improved student achievement. Dump all these high paid know nothings and put the money into the classroom with more teachers.

Great more corporatism in LAUSD. Thank God I'm going to another district next year. One that actually wants to keep the "public" in public education.

At least Deasy has an education background, even though no mention was made of his school based administrative experience. Let's also hope that he is the type of administrator who emphasizes the many positives and not just negatives. There is more to a school than just standardized test scores. How about focusing on lesson planning?

Deasy's past is rather "dicey". Check him out on GOOGLE. LAUSD should not be hiring anyone whose interests lie in expanding charter schools since charters represent a small minority of enrollment. Whenever anyone is hired with a history of involvement with one particular reform, you can expect a push to promote that reform over all others. At least Cortines did not bend to pressure from charter groups when it came to the School Choice Plan. I doubt that Deasy would do the same.

Why would LAUSD hire an innovative, education leader like John Deasey for this job? John Deasey is the perfect candidate for this job, but not in this District. When addressing the Board about leading education initiatives, some of the LAUSD Board Members will get "ice cream headaches."

John Deasey places chess, LAUSD/UTLA play checkers(And they are the worst checkers players in the world).

You don't put an educator in this job, and have him work with non educators like UTLA and the LAUSD Board Members.

LAUSD is firing employees because it does not have the money for them. Now it has money to hire Deasy, and that is just another one LAUSD lies. When you cut service because you do not have money you also do not have money to hire anyone either. Cortines, said it will be another Parcel tax in November, and we will defeat that one also.

The roots of American education can be found in the necessity of cultivating a widely literate constituency (voters) in order to create a functioning Democracy (government) to effectively police and manage our mandated decision-makers (elected officials) so we may grow as a free and energetic nation. One of the few governmental mandates actually indirectly stitched into this design of our nation was the creation and maintenance of public schools to fulfill the structural need for informed and literate voters. Therefore, the governmental framework that houses our market-driven, capitalist-based society has to include public schools. Although this framework, by design, was intended to be spare and utilatarian in order to enable the open market to flourish, public education would become a major social/political pillar of the USA governmental structure, and it remains so today. This pillar responsibility, however, is a foundational linchpin to a healthy Democracy, and although other goods and services will be provided in the American economic system when the market thrives in a loose framework, we cannot rely on the market alone to deliver something as critical as basic education to our children. There is both a rhyme and a reason to our governmental support of public education, although it may be difficult to identify sometimes. A new and dangerous group of economic beasts has emerged recently, however, to challenge the governmental commitment to public schools and test government fortitude in defending their fortress Democracy. These beasts are the national and sometimes global corporations that operate in our free markets and have amassed countless piles of money and now have their bulging eyes fixed on the large chunks of government money spent to support our linchpin – public education. Why can’t we simply form businesses to operate schools, they say, and via some healthy American-style competition, we can sharpen the product that is delivered, and in turn, sharpen the student product that is generated. What they fail to mention, however, is that not all American families can or will choose to purchase lifeblood education once it is abandon by the government and left to corporations to supply. Let’s see, food bill, cable bill, internet bill, school bill…? Mommy needs internet more than little Joey needs school. Done. The tax dollars that once went to public school districts will fill the coffers of these companies, but few will escape into the classroom to be used on teachers and students. Most will line the pockets of the non-educator pirates that have thrown acid on our Democratic American superstructure. It all fits in a twisted way because free market deregulation – another linchpin of our American heritage – has led to the rapacious nature of these corporations. Now, they have grown to the point where they are hungrily gnawing on the edges of the nation’s foundational framework, and the defenders of the building, our elected officials who have shown they are incapable of fighting them off, have jumped on the monsters back and beginning to chew themselves. Our elected school officials in LAUSD are engaged in cannibalism – biting off the taxpayer hand that feeds them. Sure, invite the wolf to the sheep’s party. We know how that one turned out. Sure, invite John Deasy – who works for the world’s 15th largest corporation – to become the new leader of the nations’ second largest PUBLIC school district. Good luck with that.

I agree 100% with Yellowbird! The best thing that the LAUSD Board could do is disband.

We need more money for the children, and more money to support the teachers who have to spend too much of their own money for their classrooms. This is because they don't have copiers and other office equipment available to them in order to disseminate information to their students, parents.

I'm tired of spending at least $50.00 every week at KINKOS to make homework packages for the students because we don't have money for a copier (Copier service contract) for the teachers!

they will pay him $ 1 mill plus expenses!

Stupid LAUSD never fails to disappoint. What are they thinking?

I really do not trust anything Bill Gates is doing these days. I had just read an article sent to me by afriend where Bill Gates has given over ten million dollars to an Islamic cult known as the Gulen Movement. Why would bill gate give ten million dollars to a Muslim school? Who does he think he is and why would he sell out the country that made him the man he is today?

I think it is great Gates Foundation donate money to education. I just hope he is more careful and doesn't donate $10 million again to the Gulen Islamic ran Charter schools in Los Angeles (Magnolia Science Academy)
Bill Gates already gave $10 millionto the Texas Islamic Gulen Charter schools (Harmony Science Academy)
enough is enough. They use the money to teach the children Turkish language, dance and song...they have a huge Turkish Olympiad the kids perform at in Arizona, Texas, Atlanta and Washington DC. They also take the children to Turkey where they perform with the other worldwide Gulen schools for the politicians of Turkey. Why is my tax dollars going to this?

Thank you ARD. It's too bad our elected school board either does not wish to or is incapable of seeing into the future. Duncan had an advantage in setting up Race to the Top. I am guessing he took everyone by surprise, given the education platform presented by Obama. Now that massive evidence of the devastation that RttTop represents has been clearly explained by so many groups represented by professional educators, teachers, and parents, it is even more upsetting that it seems more important for Duncan to "stay the course" to save face than to do the right thing for our children and our future as a democratic society.

Excellent choice your board has made. Far from perfect, as most of us are, he is a superb choice to fill the position. Poised, intelligent, innovative and personable, he is sorely missed in Prince George's County, Maryland.

I have read Bill Gates had given 10 million dollars to an Islamic Tukish charter school in Texas. Bad enough they are already using our state and federal tax oney to offset this so called charter school. I do not trust Bill Gates nor his foundation at this point. Kinda makes you wonder whats on the agenda. Destroy public education and corporate charter schools where everything is based on numbers and incentives huh? Don't beleive me do a search Bill Gates Charter school.

It's pretty alarming that the Gates Foundation would provide $10M to the Cosmos Foundation (whose Turkish administrators operate over 30 charter schools in Texas). Why mandate Turkish be taught in these schools? Why the hundreds of H1-B visas for Turkish followers of imam Fethullah Gulen who teach at these charter schools when so many teachers are unemployed. Gulen was tried by the courts in Turkey for attempting to 'Islamify' that secular nation. It seems like a very questionable decision that the Gates Foundation made.


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