Members of the L.A. teachers union begin casting ballots Tuesday in a symbolic confidence-vote referendum on L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy.
The result will have no direct effect on Deasy’s employment but could provide a temperature check on how well his policies are received by the rank and file.
Deasy has pushed through a new system that will, where possible, base 30% of a teacher’s performance evaluation on student standardized test scores and other measures of achievement. Teachers recently approved a framework that included using test scores, but did so under pressure from a court ruling that mandated such a system.
The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has been at odds with Deasy over various issues, such as his efforts to base layoffs on a merit system rather than seniority. Deasy also has moved quickly to remove and fire teachers suspected of serious misconduct -- and is seeking authority from the state to move faster still.
Deasy’s own job security was an issue in the March school board election, which ended with mixed results for his supporters.
Voting among union members will take place over the next week, with ballots counted on April 11.
The wording of the Deasy question is: “Do you have CONFIDENCE in John Deasy’s leadership of LAUSD?”
The Deasy issue was added to a separate question that was the original reason for the referendum: “Shall UTLA adopt the Initiative for the Schools LA Students Deserve?”
This proposal calls for UTLA to negotiate with officials and organize a community push for reduced class sizes, restored programs in adult and early childhood education, better pay for all school employees, a stop to “excessive” student testing and an end to the forced restaffing of schools with low test scores.
The referendum resulted from a petition with 1,130 valid member signatures. The Deasy question was added later, as a result of a vote by UTLA’s House of Representatives, which is the union’s governing body.
Union President Warren Fletcher has endorsed the organizing initiative. He said he is choosing not to state a position on the no-confidence vote. But the union’s newspaper, which is substantially under Fletcher’s control, has promoted the no-confidence vote with doctored photos of Deasy and lists of his alleged failings.
“Time and again, Supt. Deasy makes decisions that short-change students for the benefit of his private agenda,” begins one official union statement. “That agenda is in lock-step with the national ‘corporate reform’ movement [over-reliance on high-stakes tests, linking pay to unreliable test score formulations, blaming teacher seniority for management failures].”
One photo calls Deasy “Chef BIC,” in referring to the district’s new Breakfast in the Classroom program, which is unpopular with many teachers.
Deasy’s defenders say he has managed to lead improved academic performance despite sharp state budget cutbacks.
They also insist that his policies are focused on helping students and also will assist teachers in improving their craft.