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Big Man on Campus: LAUSD John Deasy answers your questions on anti-bullying, LGBT lesson plans and more

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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Right now, many principals are urging the adoption of a new evaluation system that would rate teachers based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. Will a stricter rubric inspire better performance?

Gov. Jerry Brown, on the other hand, says rethinking how we use test scores won’t change a thing. Earlier, he vetoed SB 547, which would have lessened the emphasis on test scores in school and student assessment. How, then, should schools be rated? Would anything change by reforming the current evaluation system?

In the aftermath of the fatal stabbing of a girl by her boyfriend at South Gate High School, Deasy tells us how the LAUSD is considering expansion of anti-dating violence programs.

Finally, another new law about LGBT rights makes it mandatory for teachers to intervene in bullying conflicts. Seth’s Law also establishes a complaint system for students and parents to file bullying complaints, even suspending repeat bullies.

Here’s what LAUSD Superintendent John Deasey had to say on:

Teacher’s effectiveness ratings
“While a school can be low-performing on a single test over time [if] the students are getting very good and doing much better, that actually has a huge weight. We’ve done the same for teachers where it’s been possible. This year we provided that information both to the teacher and the principal, so they can have a good conversation about how things have been going over time. So we’re not relying on just the single test score.”

Data-based school reform, which was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown
“A reform that I strongly supported, it was one that broadened how we would construct API in California so it wouldn’t be so narrow. It strikes me as everything that both sides have talked about with the problems, meaning a narrowing of the focus on just test scores.”

“I haven’t for the life of me been able to figure out why we wouldn’t have gone forward with that. Not only would it have been good for California and our schools but it would have been a very strong model for the nation to be able to follow.”

Occupy LAUSD
“I think Occupy LAUSD is misinformed. I think it’s certainly contrary to the spirit of what’s been taking place in this country and other countries, in terms of Occupy Wall Street. It was and is a very laudable movement for economic justice. Where we’ve watched policies systematically hurt the poor and middle class, to equate that with LAUSD is beyond flawed.”

Anti-dating violence programs
“One thing that is important to indicate [when it comes to] support for students who may or may not be in dating relationships is to make sure anybody in a relationship understands their rights to be safe and their rights to not be bullied, harassed, or physically abused.

“This incident [South Gate stabbing] very tragically points to the need for such a program so we are able to provide support to students when that is the case. And this is a great movement forward for a very deliberate and organized way across LAUSD.”

Seth’s law
“[It] provides a new set of legal backdrop to support that [anti-bullying efforts already in place by LAUSD]

Negotiations with teachers
“I’m hoping we will be able to divest through this items both in policy and in contract that can empower teachers and administrators at local sites to have as much autonomy and authority as possible.”

“I think that teachers at schools know their students best. Parents want the relationship with the local schools. That is where parental involvement stems. That’s why we’re spending so much time with all of our parent committees in the district in terms of putting resources back at sites and the power back at sites.”

“We’ll need to negotiate. This definitely takes huge trust on both sides. And we’re in the middle of conversations that have been historically problematic to have and at the moment we’re having them.”

College and workforce readiness programs
“We are working on the rollout of the Common Core [State Standards Initiative] program. It holds a complete integration of workforce skills and college skills across our curriculum starting very early on.

"[It is] the single greatest rewriting of the curriculum in the past 40 to 50 years. The most radical part is that so many states are going to do this at the same tine. We’ve never had that happen before in the United States.”


John Deasy, superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District