LOS ANGELES (Aug. 9, 2013) – The Los Angeles Unified School District faces a year of change that, for those on the front lines of education, will certainly bring both angst and acclaim.
A new academic standard, known as the “Common Core,” applies this school year to all grade levels. A new technology program launches next week that eventually provides each student with an iPad, and teacher training for merging the devices into classroom lessons. And school principals, who have dealt with staffing cutbacks, now will have more control over how precious dollars can be spent on programs and personnel, among other changes.
Superintendent of Schools John Deasy said he has no doubt about the nation’s second-largest school district and its ability to do more than merely cope with change. He said that he believes teachers and administrators, despite several new transitions in policies, will help students to thrive. He urged administrators to take chances, to work together as a team and to remain calm as the school year begins next Tuesday for students.
“I have complete confidence in our success,” Deasy told 1,500 administrators at Hollywood High School during his annual speech. “Our success is in you.”
As further proof, he noted California test scores released earlier today that showed L.A. Unified outpaced the state’s 10 largest school districts. Despite merciless budget cuts from state and federal government, L.A. Unified students still posted slighter gains in math and smaller dips in English on scores this year than similar districts statewide.
For these gains, he thanked teachers and principals. “That is why I don’t lack confidence in LAUSD,” Deasy said. “Every school is led by a courageous leader.”
The Board of Education, which oversees the District, also is under new leadership. Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said the seven members, who set District policy, might disagree on certain issues. Still, he said of the board members, “We’re united in our commitment to the children.”
He praised administrators for their daily devotion to help children succeed. In addition, he noted several priorities that he hopes to guide the District.
Those include advocating for immigration rights, creating a safety net for kids and restoring pay for employees who have taken pay cuts in recent years. “Without good administrative leadership, no school is ever successful,” he said. “In my mind, and in the board’s mind, you’re a hero.”
Such efforts were rewarded during the meeting with talented students displaying their skills. Nelson Henriquez, a sixth-grade student at El Sereno Middle School, delighted the crowd with his ability to speak Mandarin, Spanish and English.
Long You, a Downtown Business Magnet High School graduate, who rose from poverty to attend Northwestern University. The Hollywood High School cast of the musical, “In the Heights,” and the school’s choir, demonstrated excellence in arts, along with L.A. Unified’s All City Jazz Combo.
The meeting also drew Eric Garcetti, the new mayor of Los Angeles, who made his first public appearance with school leaders. He applauded the District for rolling out what to date has become the largest program nationwide for providing students with a computing device, and promised to provide more neighborhoods with Internet access.
He also pledged to be a “bridge builder,” to use the city’s clout to improve neighborhood campuses, and to be an advocate for helping schools receive the state funding they need to flourish.
“I will be your partner,” he said. He added that creating a connection will occur over time. “It will take time to build a bridge between the city and schools,” he said, “and I’m with you. I’m committed to doing it.”
“I’m going to put the push the city to be better and the school district to be better,” Garcetti said.
The superintendent, who pledged to work together with the school board leadership and fellow members, shared that sentiment. “The task will be complex, but doable with everyone in this room,” Deasy said.
The annual meeting will be shown on KLCS-TV Thursday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 11 at 7 a.m.
To view the video of the Superintendent's Annual Administrators' Address, click here.
To download from iTunes U, click here.
Contact: Daryl Strickland (213) 241-6766