L.A. Schools' Chief Pushes to Change School Culture

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's 7:30 a.m. and the chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District briskly launches a powwow on the sensitive topic of how to place the strongest math teachers with the weakest students.

Supt. John Deasy leads two dozen administrators through statistics showing the schools where the district's most effective algebra instructors teach. They brainstorm incentives to get principals and teachers to buy into the plan, aimed at raising abysmal scores on state math tests. Some may believe it a waste to put their best with the worst, one administrator cautions, but Deasy's response is quick and characteristically blunt:

"You really shouldn't teach in LAUSD if you believe that," he says. He pledges to act on the issue, asks the administrators for similar commitments and reminds them of their pace: "as many things as fast as possible." He adjourns at 9:29 a.m. — one minute early. Then on to the rest of his 20-hour day.

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