Deasy and new board member Ratliff laud teacher report

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on Thursday broadly endorsed proposals from an outside group for attracting and retaining teachers, including more money for those who take on difficult assignments and deliver measurable academic gains.

Positive reaction also came from newly elected school board member Monica Ratliff, who is leaving the classroom to join the Board of Education in July.

Both were responding to recommendations in two reports developed by a small group of L.A.-area teachers under the guidance of Educators4Excellence, an advocacy group funded by influential national nonprofits including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

The group’s founding principles include using student standardized test scores as part of a teacher’s performance evaluation; the new reports urge the linking of student achievement to tenure decisions and, when necessary, to layoffs.

All told, the reports list a large array of strategies, some of which echo approaches favored by the local teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. Union leaders, however, have rejected the idea of pay linked to student performance on state tests.


The ideas in one of the reports also include turning over hiring decisions to schools and starting the process early enough so that campuses are not forced into last-minute decisions from a limited applicant pool.

The second report suggests establishing four categories of teachers based on a sustained performance rating as “effective” or “highly effective” over time. The highest-rated teachers would take on mentoring and leadership roles and receive more money for these duties.

Deasy said he was generally “completely supportive” of the recommendations. Some schools could choose to adopt a local hiring process now, he said, although union approval would be necessary for much of the framework.

“I am a completely receptive audience,” said Deasy, but the union “has heretofore rejected nearly every single suggestion.”

Deasy added that the Board of Education, too, “has been slow to embrace and back these.”

At least two of the seven board members are taking the recommendations seriously: School board president Monica Garcia, a Deasy ally, and Ratliff, who appeared Thursday at an event hosted by the group at a school in Koreatown.

“E4E has said what so many teachers and people think: The current teacher evaluation system and professional development system is flawed,” Ratliff said in an email prior to the event. “I’m excited that during my meetings with LAUSD district staff this week the issue of supporting teachers with more effective and targeted professional development came up repeatedly and is a front-burner issue. E4E’s timing is perfect.”

The release also takes place as the Board of Education is poised to vote next week on a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Several board members, along with union leaders, have suggested that available resources should be used to restore staff positions lost during the recent recession and reduce class sizes.

Teachers union President Warren Fletcher had no immediate comment, pending his review of the recommendations. But critics of pay-for-performance have cited research suggesting that such incentives typically fail, in part because the vast majority of teachers already are putting forth their best effort.

The group has recruited teachers in an effort to create an alternative outlet for those who either oppose union positions or want to change them within the union.

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Twitter: @howardblume |