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Deasy stays at L.A. Unified. Now what?

October 29, 2013|By Karin Klein
  • Supt. John Deasy.
Supt. John Deasy. (Los Angeles Times )

United Teachers Los Angeles will no doubt disagree with this statement, but when did that ever stop us? It’s very good news that John Deasy will be staying on as superintendent — and that this isn’t just for today or the next few months, but that his contract has been extended to 2016. The news that there will be both a level of stability and can-do energy for Los Angeles Unified School District, and it could certainly use both of those.

There are two more things to hope for out of this evening’s announcement. One is that Deasy and the school board really did have a productive conversation today, as he described it afterward, one in which they worked out some ground rules for their continued relationship and for the general direction of the district. There has been so much aimless floundering the last few months, and some of that is to be expected when the board’s leadership has changed at the same time that the district is getting its feet wet with a new curriculum and trying to decide what to do with major new money coming in over the next several years. But everyone should be thoroughly tired of that now and ready to get on with the work ahead.

The other hope is that this contract is seen as a solid and solemn commitment on both sides, including Deasy’s. This is at least the second time he has talked about leaving the district; these supposedly confidential statements or warnings throw everyone into a tizzy and create whole new levels of anger and accusations among reformers and their opponents, benefiting no one. Certainly the superintendent’s near future with the board won’t be as easy for him as his first couple of years were, when a board with a different power structure gave him pretty much everything he wanted. He’ll have to make more persuasive cases for his initiatives, compromise more and sometimes work at swaying opponents and wobblers even when he’s right and they’re wrong.

That’s not an easy job. Deasy already works legendarily long hours; now he also needs the stamina to take some bruises and still move forward. But then, the teachers who are trying to raise student achievement with a brand-new curriculum, a still-rocky iPad rollout and an ever-changing set of rules and expectations have a tough job too.


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