Credit: John C. Osborn/EdSource Today

While the leadership turmoil in the Los Angeles Unified School District has attracted widespread attention in recent months, the state’s largest district is far from the only one in California that is coping with superintendent turnover.

Two-thirds of the superintendents of the state’s 30 largest districts have been in their posts for three or fewer years, according to an EdSource review. Ten have been in their posts for less than a year. Only three – Long Beach Unified’s Chris Steinhauser, Fresno Unified’s Michael Hanson and Chino Valley Unified’s Wayne Joseph – have been on the job for more than five years.

The most recent appointment is former schools chief Ramon Cortines, who was named interim superintendent of L.A. Unified in October after John Deasy resigned in the wake of a series of conflicts with the elected board of education. Deasy was on the job 3½ years.

Short tenure is a prominent feature of urban districts where superintendents typically face intense pressures to raise low test scores, cope with periodic budget shortfalls that may require layoffs and school closings, as well as manage the often high-wire politics of elected school boards.

“Turnover is endemic to the position of superintendent,” said Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

In California, the turnover comes at a time when district finances are improving but superintendents have the added charge of implementing some of the most significant reforms in decades, most notably the Common Core standards and the Local Control Funding Formula.

“In general, the job is grueling, is incredibly difficult,” said Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems in Los Angeles, in a previous interview with EdSource. “It takes a personal and professional toll on people who are in it. This is a job where you have thousands of bosses, and that is very hard. Getting a governance and leadership team that works well together to serve teachers, students and families is very difficult, and rarer than it should be.”

fall survey from the Council of the Great City Schools found that the average length of tenure for current superintendents in the nation’s largest urban school districts was 3.18 years, down from 3.64 years in its 2010 survey. It was 4.5 years for immediate past superintendents, down from 5.1 years in 2010. A 2012 study of 100 randomly selected California school districts indicated that 43 percent of superintendents stayed in their posts for three or fewer years. But 71 percent of those in districts with more than 29,000 student also left within that time frame.

“Turnover is endemic to the position of superintendent,” said Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

Marshall Smith, the former dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education and U.S. undersecretary of education in the Clinton administration, said that it takes far longer than the average length of tenure for superintendents to make reforms stick.

“Unless you are there for eight to nine years, you can’t expect to make big changes,” Smith said. Nor, he said, “can you expect to make changes during a fiscal crisis” – precisely the conditions that every superintendent in California experienced during the past five years.

It may be no accident that the only two California school districts that won the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education – Long Beach in 2003 and Garden Grove in 2004 – have been marked by unusual stability in leadership. In Long Beach, current superintendent Steinhauser, who assumed his post in 2002, succeeded Carl Cohn, who had been there for 10 years. At Garden Grove, Laura Schwalm stepped down last year after 14 years in her post – and was succeeded by Gabriela Mafi, herself a former principal and assistant superintendent in the district.

In some cases, the transition to a new superintendent can be a smooth one – when a departing superintendent left not because of conflict but because he or she is retiring or finds a job elsewhere after a relatively long tenure.

The changeover can be especially painless if the incoming superintendent is a current employee in the district. That is what occurred in the Poway Unified School District, where John Collins, a longtime administrator, replaced the highly regarded Don Phillips, who retired in 2010 after nine years on the job.  In August of this year in the Kern Union High School District Byron Schaefer,  who had been in the district for a quarter century, replaced Don Carter, who retired after 10 years in the post — and 38 years in the district.

But in other cases leadership changes have occurred abruptly – leaving districts scrambling to find replacements with short notice, or to come up with a temporary solution by appointing an interim superintendent.

  • In April 2013,  Oakland schools chief Tony Smith announced he would leave the 46,000-student district in June of that year – too soon to find a permanent replacement – and he was succeeded by interim superintendent Gary Yee. Oakland appointed a permanent replacement, Antwan Wilson, in July of this year.
  • Also in April 2013, Thelma Melendez announced her resignation after just two years at the helm of the 57,000-student Santa Ana Unified School District, effective at the end of the school year. She was succeeded by former Riverside Unified Superintendent Rick Miller, who assumed his post last November – well into the school year.
  • In October 2013, Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathan Raymond, after 4½ years on the job, announced he would leave the district by the end of the year. He was succeeded by interim superintendent Sara Noguchi, who in turn was replaced by former Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda in July.

These resignations were in part a fallout of the budget battles over the last five years that have resulted in bruising conflicts with teachers unions or parent and community organizations.

Both Smith and Raymond closed down schools with low enrollments as budget savings measures. School closures are arguably the most stressful transformations any school district can experience, because they inevitably trigger resistance from parents and the communities the schools serve, as well as the staff in those schools who will either lose their jobs or be forced to transfer to other schools.

In contrast, Deasy’s resignation came at a time when the district’s financial outlook had improved dramatically as a result of the state’s improving economy and the new school financing law that provides nearly additional funds to districts  based on their enrollment of low-income children, foster youth and English learners.

In an interview with NPR, Deasy said a major reason he left the district was because of a clash between his advocacy on behalf of “students’ rights” vs. “adult and political agendas.” That appeared to be code for Deasy’s support of a range of reforms opposed by teachers’ unions, including the Vergara lawsuit, which seeks changes in teacher tenure and other job protection laws.  At the same time, he said,  “I could have developed and adjusted my style to have worked with my bosses better.  Maybe my pace and way I went about it is open to critique.”

Deasy’s supporters noted that under his leadership, graduation rates and test scores had improved. But it is not clear just how much of these improvements could be attributed directly to Deasy, how much to changes that were in place when he arrived, and how much to the work of teachers and other personnel at the local level.

There has been surprisingly little research about what impact superintendent turnover has on student academic outcomes. As Jason Grissom and Stephanie Andersen noted in their paper, “Why Superintendents Turn Over,” published in 2012 in the American Educational Research Journal, “lamentably superintendent turnover lacks a well-developed research base.”

In September of this year, the Brookings Institution published one of the few quantitative studies on the subject, with the provocative title, “School Superintendents: Vital or Irrelevant?”

Co-authored by Matthew Chingos, Whitehurst and Matharein Lindquist, the study looked at superintendent turnover in Florida and North Carolina between 2000 and 2010. It found that the average tenure was between three and four years – but how long a superintendent was in a district was not correlated with the academic outcomes of its students.

In fact, said Whitehurst in an interview, “we find that which teacher students have makes the most difference, and after that what school and what district they’re in. There is little effect from what superintendent is serving in the district.”

One reason that it made little difference is that superintendents  may not have been in their posts long enough to effect significant change.

“I’ve talked to some thoughtful superintendents,” Whitehurst said. “Their view is that they really don’t have control over the levers of change, they don’t have the ability to change the nature of their district’s workforce, like providing them with differential pay. They are constrained by school boards who often have advocates within the district itself, especially teachers.”

Whitehurst said superintendents “find it difficult to get things done, and frustrations build on both sides, and they leave.”

Stanford education professor emeritus Larry Cuban said part of the problem is that school boards often look for a “Superman or Wonder Woman.” While these rare superstars may succeed in one district, Cuban noted, they might not in another.

In an October post, Cuban wrote:

To lessen the inevitable disappointment that follows the appointment of a savior school chief, mayors and school boards would do well to downsize expectations, display more patience, seek leaders who believe in incremental changes toward fundamental ends, and pay far more attention to sniffing out better matches between the person and the city than betting on a super-star bearing a tin-plated reputation.

It is possible that with the easing of the Great Recession, and the infusion of funds into urban school districts as a result of the state’s reform of its school funding system that California’s crop of recently appointed superintendents will face fewer pressures than some of their predecessors. That could result in them staying longer on the job – and allow them to oversee the full implementation of the Common Core and other reforms underway in their districts.

Regardless of how long they stay,  there is widespread agreement that these are exceptionally tough jobs.

“It is not magic, it is not angel dust,”  said Marshall Smith, currently a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching. “It is just hard work.”


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  1. John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

    Dear Commenters, Thanks for your wonderful feedback and great suggestions on improving the comment system. For the time being, I'm disabling the auto-collapse of comments while I tinker with the code to fix several bugs that have been discovered. I also plan to implement some suggestions outlined by you, including: - an option to expand/collapse ALL comments toward the top of the comment thread - some type of indication of newer comments (trying to decide a good time … Read More

    Dear Commenters,

    Thanks for your wonderful feedback and great suggestions on improving the comment system. For the time being, I’m disabling the auto-collapse of comments while I tinker with the code to fix several bugs that have been discovered. I also plan to implement some suggestions outlined by you, including:

    – an option to expand/collapse ALL comments toward the top of the comment thread
    – some type of indication of newer comments (trying to decide a good time frame)
    – an edit/trash comment ability
    – a more seamless reply interface (not having to jump up to the comment box)

    Reply to this comment if you have other suggestions for me. Thanks again for your thoughts and patience.

    Cheers~

  2. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    There are three recent comments, but none of those three appear among the 50 comments. The reply button doesn’t work. Seems like the new system needs some work.

    Replies

    • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

      Could you explain in more detail what you mean about the recent comments. Where they your comments? Were they in reply to a comment?

      RE reply, when you click on it it SHOULD take you up to the text box to type in your comment. Is that not happening for you?

      Thanks!

  3. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    A fully displayed post is 113 characters, shorter than a Tweet. Haikus, anyone?

    Replies

    • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

      Yeah we’re using WordPress’s native comment excerpt right now which is too short. We’re making a custom one right now.

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      anon, worn icons
      trigger bigger rigor, but
      not anon, now now

      • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

        To like or dislike,
        comments on this thread, only
        tracks count, not user

  4. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Thanks, John.

  5. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    So, is there a problem with the site or is this a change in format for the comments section? It is difficult to reply to a comment you cannot see.

    Replies

    • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

      Hey Gary,

      We’re in the process of upgrading the comments section. We’re not completely finished yet. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

        Wow, thumbs up and down. And the trash can means comments and repilies can be retracted?

        • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

          I see, just hidden.

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            reply to rely test

        • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

          same level reply test

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            And four levels of nested comments appears to be the limit.

        • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

          The thumb doesn’t always change back to grey when I undo a like or unlike.

          I guess you are tracking all the likes/unlikes plus hides through cookies. How big a history are you maintaining for that?

          • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

            Thanks for the feedback Paul. I will look into that.

            There’s nothing nefarious with the likes/dislikes. We wanted to implement a way to sort by “popular” comments and combat trolls. Most comment systems out there implement a system like this, so we’re just catching up to every one else.

            • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

              I wasn’t thinking of anything nefarious, just wondering how much data would be saved. Since I use a mostly full iPad to read EdSource and I’m a long term participant in EdSource I’m wondering if I’ll need to think about managing the data. It sure would be nice if old things I’d probably never look at again would just expire without any action from me.

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              Oh OK. No, it’s all saved on our end, so it won’t affect your performance. I have noticed a slight increase in load time for comments (maybe like .25-.5 seconds).

        • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

          That’s actually a good idea…about trashing comments.

      • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

        Well, John, I wish you good luck in getting it to work right. Right now, your reply to Gary could not be seen in its entirety. I had to hide it (by clicking on the trash can) and then unhide (by again clicking on the trash can) for it to show completely. If this not fixed, then it will make navigating the comments very very time-consuming. Maybe you can put it back to the old-school … Read More

        Well, John, I wish you good luck in getting it to work right.

        Right now, your reply to Gary could not be seen in its entirety. I had to hide it (by clicking on the trash can) and then unhide (by again clicking on the trash can) for it to show completely.

        If this not fixed, then it will make navigating the comments very very time-consuming.

        Maybe you can put it back to the old-school way where the comments were threaded and the thread starts were chronological?

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Oh, I get it, you have to click on the author to expand it.

          It still is inefficient because it requires a bunch of clicks to read a thread. And it is impossible to see if there were replies without first clicking on the thread author.

          I guess only hard-core participants will survive and beggars cannot be choosy.

          That may be good and that may be bad…

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            It seems to me that a view replies clickable shows up whenever there are replies. Maybe that doesn’t show up in your browser for some reason. I’m using safari. I prefer the clicking to expand than scrolling. It’s easier to read the nested replies.

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            Ah, the view replies clickable only seems to apply to top level comments. After that it seems all replies are shown as nested.

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            I see a little triangle indicating a comment is expanded or not.

          • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

            But I only see the triangle if there is something to expand.

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              Exactly. We’re also working on a “read more” button to go into the post.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            A fully displayed post is 113 characters, shorter than a Tweet. Haikus, anyone?

          • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

            A “View Replies” button appears if there are replies to a comment, along with a triangle to the left of the commenter’s name. We are testing right now whether to have comments nested collapsed by default or not. So this is valuable feedback.

            • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

              To collapse doth feel advantageous.
              Hiding by default more outrageous.
              A ‘read more’ mouse hover
              could be yet another
              improvement not too ostentatious.

            • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

              True, a "view replies" is there, but there is no easy way to tell if there have been more replies to the replies from the last time it was visited. Collapsing the comments by default prevents the visitor from quickly asserting if anything new has appeared. And the trashcan is gone. To test what the replacement icon does I clicked on your haiku, John, and it hid it. But I cannot unhide it. Yet, other … Read More

              True, a “view replies” is there, but there is no easy way to tell if there have been more replies to the replies from the last time it was visited. Collapsing the comments by default prevents the visitor from quickly asserting if anything new has appeared.

              And the trashcan is gone. To test what the replacement icon does I clicked on your haiku, John, and it hid it. But I cannot unhide it. Yet, other can be hidden and unhidden. Maybe your haiku is special?

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              Manuel: RE hidden comments that does appear to be a bug. Didn’t work for me either. I will look into that.

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              Ugh on read more. Having to click and wait wait wait to see if there’s anything more to read is not an improvement. I have a scroll bar and I know how to use it!

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              Hey El: Thanks for the feedback. We've also gotten feedback that having to scroll through long comments, to which there are many on the website, is distracting and buries other comments. To address this, comments that are longer than 75 words hide all text after the 75th word by default. You do not have to expand comments shorter than 75 words. After clicking read more, the rest of the comment should be expanded immediately. How long … Read More

              Hey El: Thanks for the feedback.

              We’ve also gotten feedback that having to scroll through long comments, to which there are many on the website, is distracting and buries other comments. To address this, comments that are longer than 75 words hide all text after the 75th word by default. You do not have to expand comments shorter than 75 words.

              After clicking read more, the rest of the comment should be expanded immediately. How long do you have to wait for a comment to be expanded?

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              I am not seeing the delay I saw earlier. I still hate it. Clicking the 'read more' jumps the page and changes where the paragraphs are, so I have to reread the whole comment from the beginning. It makes me dread reading comments to be honest. It means I'm likely to skip reading the comment. Why would you want that? I see no functional value in it. Either you want to read the comments, which means … Read More

              I am not seeing the delay I saw earlier.

              I still hate it. Clicking the ‘read more’ jumps the page and changes where the paragraphs are, so I have to reread the whole comment from the beginning. It makes me dread reading comments to be honest. It means I’m likely to skip reading the comment. Why would you want that? I see no functional value in it. Either you want to read the comments, which means you want them expanded, or you don’t, in which case why are you even scrolling?

              Some ways to make it valuable:
              – have a collapse all/expand all setting
              – develop the ‘new’ functionality where comments that are new are highlighted in some way so you can skip to them.
              – collapse comments more than a day or two old, expand all new ones

              Truly it is the lack of “new” that is the biggest problem here, functionality wise. Even a placeholder for ‘new’ like ‘last 48 hours’ (instead of a more accurate cookie/local storage that knows when I last visited this article) might be better than nothing. That’s the true reason long comment trees are problematic here, because you’ve read many but not all and can’t find the new ones.

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              El: Great suggestions. I particularly like the idea of somehow highlighting newer comments. I'm also going to look into seeing how difficult it would be to allow a user to select whether they want comments to be expanded by default. That way, if you want that experience, you can have it with one click, while new users/readers not logged in get the default collapsed comments. Curious, are you experiencing the jumpiness when clicking "read more" on … Read More

              El: Great suggestions. I particularly like the idea of somehow highlighting newer comments. I’m also going to look into seeing how difficult it would be to allow a user to select whether they want comments to be expanded by default. That way, if you want that experience, you can have it with one click, while new users/readers not logged in get the default collapsed comments.

              Curious, are you experiencing the jumpiness when clicking “read more” on desktop, mobile or both? That’s something we can smooth out, I think, so it’s not so abrupt and disrupting to your experience.

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              I'm using Safari, John. I think what is happening is that when they extract the 75 words they are removing all the formatting that is in the comment, at least most obviously, line breaks and paragraph breaks. Then, when the comment is restored (via read more), it is restored with all its formatting (possibly also a different line width) and so the place where I left off reading is now in a different pixel position in the window. I'm … Read More

              I’m using Safari, John. I think what is happening
              is that when they extract the 75 words they are
              removing all the formatting that is in the comment,
              at least most obviously, line breaks and paragraph breaks.

              Then, when the comment is restored (via read more), it is restored
              with all its formatting (possibly also a different line width)
              and so the place where I left off reading is now in a different pixel position in the window.

              I’m adding lots of formatting and extra words and a superfluous link to this particular comment as an experiment. 🙂

            • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

              I think you’re right. John F had an issue where the excerpt stripped out links, but when he wrote a longer comment and clicked “read more” the links were there.

              I’m going to disable the comment excerpts until we fix a number of bugs that were found.

              Thanks!

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              Aha, I am right. Note that in the collapsed version, the link is stripped, and how jarring it is to move from one state to the other.

            • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

              Sometimes the read more button works seamlessly, taking over where I left off at the exact spot. Other times it reformats the text and I have to search for where I left off. I don’t understand why it would work well one time, but not the other. I’m using Chrome.

            • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

              its a formatting issue. the ‘preview’ only includes the text, the expanded version includes the text and any formatting that that included (line feeds, carriage returns, emoticons, italics, strong, etc). if everyone typed their comments in one big block the read more would work in the seamless way you describe every time. alas, humans crave choice.. 😉

  6. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    While Mr. Freedberg covered the usual claims ("the adults did not want me there"), I am surprised that no mention was made of the real reason why Deasy resigned: he had finally gone too far in attacking his own district for a snafu he created and/or abetted: the collapse of Jefferson High School. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. In retrospect, however, the federal investigation into the iPad debacle would have done it … Read More

    While Mr. Freedberg covered the usual claims (“the adults did not want me there”), I am surprised that no mention was made of the real reason why Deasy resigned: he had finally gone too far in attacking his own district for a snafu he created and/or abetted: the collapse of Jefferson High School.

    This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    In retrospect, however, the federal investigation into the iPad debacle would have done it too.

    So, no, it was not the actions of his enemies, real or imagined, that forced Deasy to resign. It was simply hubris. A belief that no matter what outrage he perpetrated, he could get away with it.

    OTOH, cynics have remarked that Deasy never got past 4 years on any of his posts. He walked away from Santa Monica-Malibu USD after his contract got extended. He did the same at Prince George’s County. Etc. It almost seems that he pushed matters so that he could meet his usual schedule.

    But it does not matter. He is not missed by the teachers, and he is not missed by many parents I know. He is only missed by his backers and they are all suspiciously quiet, quite a contrast to the loud political theater they mounted last year when Deasy floated the idea that he was resigning. But now LAUSD is picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how to move on from his fiscal and educational policies which are still being implemented.

  7. Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

    Along the lines of parent involvement - we have Trustees by area and my Trustee Attorney for Oakley John Alpay have never once in 6 or 8 years now even responded to a single letter or comment I have made at a Board meeting. The only interaction that he has had with me was to steal dawnurbanek.com and have that domain name re-directed to his web site so that people would be mislead into thinking … Read More

    Along the lines of parent involvement – we have Trustees by area and my Trustee Attorney for Oakley John Alpay have never once in 6 or 8 years now even responded to a single letter or comment I have made at a Board meeting. The only interaction that he has had with me was to steal dawnurbanek.com and have that domain name re-directed to his web site so that people would be mislead into thinking I supported him for Trustee.

    It worked- he is in his second term – and while he will not respond to my concerns – he does show his solidarity to the District s employees – hum – he is an attorney for a multi-national corporation and does not understand what a “fiduciary duty is”.

    If you think I am making this up- enjoy- http://patch.com/california/sanjuancapistrano/children-first-s-godaddy-purchase-was-for-own-websites

    Replies

      • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

        I only need urbanek.com – maybe if you bought it you could use it to be … ?

  8. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    If only Mr. Deasy had talked with Dr. Cuban much grief might have been avoided. That presupposes the Deasy would have paid any attention to Cuban's recommendations. Not likely in retrospect. Another actual educational expert, Dr. David Kirp (once featured at Ed Source with a guest editorial) of UC Berkeley, wrote a book noting districts who work with high numbers of disadvantage students and yet show remarkable and sustained improvements in learning over time. Kirp's … Read More

    If only Mr. Deasy had talked with Dr. Cuban much grief might have been avoided. That presupposes the Deasy would have paid any attention to Cuban’s recommendations. Not likely in retrospect.

    Another actual educational expert, Dr. David Kirp (once featured at Ed Source with a guest editorial) of UC Berkeley, wrote a book noting districts who work with high numbers of disadvantage students and yet show remarkable and sustained improvements in learning over time. Kirp’s finding echo those of Cuban. Real improvement in education takes time and patience. Personnel, both at the teaching and administrative level, are stable over time. There are no mass dismissals of teacher and no rapid turnover in superintendents. And the key to it all is a collaborative relationship between management and the teachers and the union. Deasy, acting as a superman no one was waiting for, violated just about every concept laid out by both Cuban and Kirp that could possibly lead to being a successful superintendent.

    It is also with noting that everything Whitehurst suggests superintendents should be able to do are precisely the things Deasy tried to do which ended up as an abject failure.

    District management must be able to work collaboratively with the teachers. It is the teachers, finally, who do the work in the classroom. Constantly trying to undermine and impugn the professionalism of teachers undermines the integrity of what happens in the classroom.

    It should also be noted that Long Beach is one district referenced by Kirp as exhibiting the qualities that make for a quality school district. Carl Cohn, long time superintendent of long beach, wrote a recent column here at Ed Source that is worth reading to gain insight into the thinking of a successful superintendent as opposed to the thinking of Deasy and Whitehurst.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      "And the key to it all is a collaborative relationship between management and the teachers and the union." Notice that Mr. Ravani does NOT include parents-students-family in the equation and that is still true after the LCAP hullabaloo which is supposed to institutionalize parent engagement into the strategic planning process. Why is that? Because the key players, management and the unions, know that the LCAP is nothing more than an illusory sideshow, put on … Read More

      “And the key to it all is a collaborative relationship between management and the teachers and the union.”

      Notice that Mr. Ravani does NOT include parents-students-family in the equation and that is still true after the LCAP hullabaloo which is supposed to institutionalize parent engagement into the strategic planning process. Why is that? Because the key players, management and the unions, know that the LCAP is nothing more than an illusory sideshow, put on to create the appearance of community collaboration. You can see the real intentions from Mr. Ravani’s off-hand statement. Management and labor know the name of the game and it isn’t LCAP. It’s collective bargaining and pro-labor boards. The old establishment runs the show and will continue to run the show. Meanwhile, the middle class families of California public school students will do their part – pay the wages, benefits and pensions without any real representation in the process.

      • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

        Don has described my experience with the LCAP completely. I found it amusing that the LCAP said that the Superintendent would respond in writing to each parents written comments; specially since my superintendent was retiring. I want to say to all of you- most people do not take the time to write a letter anymore and then wait for a response when we have all this ability to communicate and collaborate on social media. So … Read More

        Don has described my experience with the LCAP completely. I found it amusing that the LCAP said that the Superintendent would respond in writing to each parents written comments; specially since my superintendent was retiring.

        I want to say to all of you- most people do not take the time to write a letter anymore and then wait for a response when we have all this ability to communicate and collaborate on social media. So as an “informed parent” I knew that the real intent was NOT TO ALLOW PARENTS TO HEAR EACH OTHERS COMMENTS – plus who would know if the Superintendent never responded to a single parents request.

        I am tired of Government employees/ the “Grubers” of the world thinking that I am stupid.

        Really- the whole LCAP is steaming pile!

  9. Paul Welsh 2 years ago2 years ago

    One factor not mentioned above concerning high turnover rates in large districts: If CA is anything like BC (Canada), administrator's pensions were tied to the population of the schools or districts they last served in. Schools and districts with high student populations were used as retirement staging grounds to boost pension rates in the last few years of employment. This was the practice years ago - not sure how widespread it is or if policy … Read More

    One factor not mentioned above concerning high turnover rates in large districts: If CA is anything like BC (Canada), administrator’s pensions were tied to the population of the schools or districts they last served in. Schools and districts with high student populations were used as retirement staging grounds to boost pension rates in the last few years of employment. This was the practice years ago – not sure how widespread it is or if policy has shifted. How many school leaders mentioned in the statistics above were in their last job before retirement?

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      That’s probably true. I knew it was some kind of conspiracy! That totally makes sense!

  10. Richard Moore 2 years ago2 years ago

    How many CEOs last more than 3 years? Or would doing your homework and adding context be beyond the scope of your article? Just like the claim that teachers leave after 5 years, this claim suffers from the fact that isolated "facts" that sound like news are merely the sound of ordinary life. Far more interesting would be an article about something else Long Beach and Garden Grove have in common. They both employ credentialed … Read More

    How many CEOs last more than 3 years? Or would doing your homework and adding context be beyond the scope of your article? Just like the claim that teachers leave after 5 years, this claim suffers from the fact that isolated “facts” that sound like news are merely the sound of ordinary life. Far more interesting would be an article about something else Long Beach and Garden Grove have in common. They both employ credentialed librarians — a fact rare among CA schools these days. Does that make a difference in how life in these schools is experienced? Is there research to back up librarians as a tool against at-risk factors? Try lrs.org for answers.

  11. Robert Caveney 2 years ago2 years ago

    Hi Mr. Freedberg, These well-meaning people, the superintendents, former Stanford professors etc....let me challenge the idea that they are experts. Plumbers are experts. Plumbers can fix the plumbing system. If these good, well-meaning people were experts... Clearly, new knowledge is required in the domain of education work for there to truly be experts in this field. If such knowledge were available, schools would reliably, day after day, … Read More

    Hi Mr. Freedberg,

    These well-meaning people, the superintendents, former Stanford professors etc….let me challenge the idea that they are experts. Plumbers are experts. Plumbers can fix the plumbing system. If these good, well-meaning people were experts…

    Clearly, new knowledge is required in the domain of education work for there to truly be experts in this field. If such knowledge were available, schools would reliably, day after day, year after year, lead out the best in our children.

    Many thanks again,

    Robert Caveney

  12. Michael Metcalf 2 years ago2 years ago

    Mr. Deasy had little or nothing to do with so called graduation rate increases and test score improvement. Examine the evidence regarding how these numbers are determined and you'll find the typical "sleight of hand" and "smoke and mirrors" manipulation of data. Mr. Deasy's reign of terror and intimidation eventually ran its course. He wasn't an educator and never respected those who work on the front line everyday to educate … Read More

    Mr. Deasy had little or nothing to do with so called graduation rate increases and test score improvement. Examine the evidence regarding how these numbers are determined and you’ll find the typical “sleight of hand” and “smoke and mirrors” manipulation of data. Mr. Deasy’s reign of terror and intimidation eventually ran its course. He wasn’t an educator and never respected those who work on the front line everyday to educate the youth of LAUSD. The only adult political agenda being played out involved the superintendent himself and his political allies on the school board. They stand front and center and boast of their accomplishments, meanwhile the difficult and challenging task of education continues everyday behind the scenes in the classrooms of dedicated teachers.

  13. Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

    Capistrano Unified School District - revolving door of Superintendents: James A Fleming 1991- 2006 Fleming, 70, was criminally charged less than a year after his 2006 retirement with ordering his staff to generate what prosecutors called "enemies" lists – detailed electronic spreadsheets listing the names of dozens of parent critics of his administration, where they lived, the names of their children and where they went to school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L48_aRkOL3c Dr. Denis Smith 2007-2007 Dennis M. Smith, who had been expected … Read More

    Capistrano Unified School District – revolving door of Superintendents:

    James A Fleming 1991- 2006

    Fleming, 70, was criminally charged less than a year after his 2006 retirement with ordering his staff to generate what prosecutors called “enemies” lists – detailed electronic spreadsheets listing the names of dozens of parent critics of his administration, where they lived, the names of their children and where they went to school.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L48_aRkOL3c

    Dr. Denis Smith 2007-2007

    Dennis M. Smith, who had been expected to assume his duties July 1, said in a letter to the district’s board that he had reconsidered taking the position because of “uncertainty and instability” facing the district.

    “I have looked forward to working with the current board members to establish a new vision that enables the district to move forward,” Smith wrote. “That optimistic view was based on the presumption that several legal controversies and leadership challenges facing the district had been resolved…. However, there are indications that these problems may persist for well into the future.” http://articles.latimes.com/2007/may/31/local/me-super31

    Carter Wilson 2007-2009

    Days after the Weekly published a story online about embattled Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent A. Woodrow Carter’s romp through wine country on the dime of a handful of educational construction, architectural and financial companies, Carter was fired Monday night for “material breach of contract.” http://www.ocweekly.com/2009-03-12/news/capistrano-unified-school-district-woodrow-carter/

    Joseph Farley 2010 – 2014

    Left the District this June allowing a 2014-15 budget to be adopted that increased employee compensation, reduced class sizes, restored furlough days but … the District has not yet completed contract negotiations with its teachers????

    Kristen Vital 2014 Present – Good Luck!

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      The Fleming case is noteworthy not because of the outrage that highlighting what he did might elicit in the public, but instead because the courts dismissed the case based on the claim that not only was he allowed to do that, but it was actually part of his job.

      Ever wonder why there is not more parent ‘engagement’?

      • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

        Flemming was before my time. However, I will tell you that I have a lot of parents that contact me about issues they would like to bring to the Board, but they are afraid to speak out for fear that their child will be punished as a result. For such a large school district attendance at Board meetings is almost non existent.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          You have nothing to fear but fear itself Dawn. They wish to intimidate you and others. This stifles democracy. You would have a huge lawsuit if they retaliated against a child for political statements by the parents. Teachers often stay at a school for 20-30 years or longer. However there is a constant rotation of Superintendents and Principals. Why? Look no further than the Mason or Illuminati strategies. … Read More

          You have nothing to fear but fear itself Dawn. They wish to intimidate you and others. This stifles democracy. You would have a huge lawsuit if they retaliated against a child for political statements by the parents. Teachers often stay at a school for 20-30 years or longer. However there is a constant rotation of Superintendents and Principals. Why? Look no further than the Mason or Illuminati strategies. Always have someone new, someone who seems potentially sympathetic to concerns, but make sure they are vague. Then parents will have hope change may come, blame poverty, blame the economy, blame Prop 13. By the time anyone sees this Superintendent didn’t change anything, bring in a fresh face from another City, use your contacts in the press to get articles about them published in the local papers showing they have a fresh perspective and new ideas. There aren’t enough ideas, polish off old ones and give them new names, make them seem new. By the time the new person resigns, the parents who remember will have kids who have grown up and not pay attention, and the same set of lies can be recycled ad nauseum.

          Look at any large District and the programs they have. In SF it’s now Vision 2025. There is no difference from a similar one in 1980. They talk about a lot, but do little. If you actually followed up on the promises and reforms 20 years later and could bet against them, you could become rich. More than half of adults in San Francisco as of 1980 have died. No one digs up old papers, people just say, what an interesting and fresh new plan!

          It’s all just part of the conspiracy Dawn.

          • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

            Floyd- You are making me even more depressed. I personally like most of the people at the District and have tried to help the District in many ways. I wrote the outline to get the waiver from the Romero Bill which included my daughters Dual Immersion Elementary School in the list of the 100 worst performing schools in the State with all the added paperwork etc. That was written so that Romaro could get elected … Read More

            Floyd- You are making me even more depressed.

            I personally like most of the people at the District and have tried to help the District in many ways. I wrote the outline to get the waiver from the Romero Bill which included my daughters Dual Immersion Elementary School in the list of the 100 worst performing schools in the State with all the added paperwork etc. That was written so that Romaro could get elected and the way schools were determined was set up so that all the worst performing schools could not be in one City (LAUSD).

            What I find kind of fascinating is that when I make a point about something (from a business person’s or parent’s perspective), I have actually had a number of staff come up and say- I never thought of that. I think there is such a “corporate culture” and there is so little input from the outside world that they really only know how to do the same thing over and over. It really would be good to have more parents and “outside” people be involved so that new ways of doing things could be at least discussed. Most parent involvement is through the PTA (we can save that discussion for another time).

            When I sat on the Committee to help the District comply with the ACLU Legislation I watched as the discussion was only about how to keep revenue coming in, and nothing was discussed about how to actually understand why there is a need to comply with such an agreement. They just don’t see things from a different perspective because everyone is cut from the same cloth and is wrapped in the same culture.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Does anyone have any idea what Floyd’s talking about? Does anybody care?

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don, have you compared the plans from one new Superintendent to another? How are they different?

        • SD Parent 2 years ago2 years ago

          For some reason, I couldn't reply to Dawn's message below about parent perspective, parent involvement and operating status quo, but I couldn't agree more. I recently had conversations, publicly and privately, with members of our district in various leadership positions (from principal to school board trustee), and there is huge resistance to doing things differently. For example, even with the mandates of the LCAP, the district is using the same, existing advisory committees … Read More

          For some reason, I couldn’t reply to Dawn’s message below about parent perspective, parent involvement and operating status quo, but I couldn’t agree more.

          I recently had conversations, publicly and privately, with members of our district in various leadership positions (from principal to school board trustee), and there is huge resistance to doing things differently. For example, even with the mandates of the LCAP, the district is using the same, existing advisory committees which contain parents–namely those stipulated by the state for Compensatory Education, Special Education, and English Language Learners, plus throw in the PTA–to check off the box for parent involvement whenever decisions are made. Never mind that this might have some students represented four times (if they can afford to pay the PTA dues) and others completely unrepresented. And never mind that few, if any, of the representatives of these organizations actually reach out to their stakeholders for their opinions on whatever they are working on.

          I agree with Dawn’s sentiments with respect to emails. In our district of approximately 115,000 students and 14,000 employees, how many emails do district representatives receive? Where in the list of their priorities is reading and responding to parent emails, especially on a hot-button topic (like the recent idea of changing the start date of the school year) which generates a flood into their inboxes?

          So, if you want to be heard by our district, you have to haul yourself to a school board meeting, sit through hours of agenda items for the opportunity to speak…for 1-2 minutes. How much wisdom can actually be imparted? They don’t respond, and it’s unclear if they even listen.

          Parents turn instead to social media–tweeting and blogging–but these folks have gotten to this point in frustration, so social media posts tend to be largely negative, and I doubt the district spends anytime reading them.

          Thus, affecting meaningful change seems a quixotic endeavor. Sorry, Dawn, if this makes you even more depressed…

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            We’re only nearly dead last nationally and internationally. Let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing. Eventually it should work. Why change?

          • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

            SD Parent- I am an old dog and use social media very little- but I do feel that it could be a very beneficial way to get legitimate information out to the public so that parents would understand what is going on and could make decisions for their own children. I will give you an example. CUSD has been eliminating honors classes for years. It didn't really effect my child because she was in elementary school … Read More

            SD Parent- I am an old dog and use social media very little- but I do feel that it could be a very beneficial way to get legitimate information out to the public so that parents would understand what is going on and could make decisions for their own children.

            I will give you an example.

            CUSD has been eliminating honors classes for years. It didn’t really effect my child because she was in elementary school and my older child had honors classes at his Private school. Parents kept calling me about the lack of honors classes and when I looked into the issue – I found that our District has one honors class that will provide a bump in GPA … Honors Precalculus. What Parents need to understand is that unless their child takes AP courses the highest GPA they can attain from a CUSD High School is a 4.0 + a bump for Pre-Calculus
             
            Parents were assuming that the “accelerated” classes they were taking were honors classes.

            The District is now working on complying with the new UC Honors Course policy.

            If a parent had not brought this up- how many students would have their college carrer path negatively affectd?

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