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Labor agreement would give more control to L.A. schools

November 29, 2011 |  3:00 pm

Los Angeles Unified School District officials and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement that would give campuses across the nation’s second-largest school system substantial independence in exchange for accepting more responsibility for how their students perform.

The groundbreaking agreement, scheduled to be announced Tuesday afternoon at district headquarters, does not resolve all contentious issues—both parties, for example, still are at odds over whether student standardized test scores should count in a teacher’s evaluation. Teachers have been working under the terms of a labor agreement that expired July 1, and negotiations will continue over that broader contract.

But the partial settlement takes both the school system and the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, into new and potentially risky territory. In principle, both L.A. Unified and UTLA will surrender much authority to teachers and administrators at individual schools, who can determine their own work rules and take charge of hiring locally.

The agreement substantially amends Public School Choice, a key reform that has received ongoing attention nationally. Under that earlier plan, groups from outside the school system, including nonprofits and charter-school operators, were able to compete with inside groups to run new schools and low-performing campuses. The new deal, which still must be approved by teachers, gives inside groups the first try at running or turning around a school.

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-- Howard Blume

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