Dec 24 2009

Dissident LA Teacher Launches Virtual Commons for Other Teachers

per dailyA recent decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board to farm out poorly performing public schools to charter and other independent entities has been met by a lawsuit from the United Teachers of Los Angeles. UTLA contends that the so-called School Choice plan opens the door to the privatization of education. The district and the union did come to an agreement last week to open a number of semi-independent pilot schools, which are an option to charter schools that UTLA prefers. Meanwhile, Ramon Cortines, LAUSD Superintendent, made waves this week in his announcement to drop poorly performing teachers from the classroom. The second-largest school district in the US has been plagued for years by a host of issues involving a massive bureaucracy, poorly performing students, high drop out rates, and funding problems. Additionally the school district’s method of evaluating teachers is contentious. The LA Times recently did an investigation of how public school teachers are granted tenure and found that only a tiny fraction of probationary teachers are fired, and that evaluations are all but meaningless. A J Duffy, the head of the teachers union, has told the press that evaluations should not be used to launch witch hunts – he hopes for a meeting with Cortines to discuss ideas for better evaluation methods. His concerns are valid given that many teachers complain of retaliation for speaking out about waste and corruption they witness.

GUEST Leonard Isenberg, long time public school teacher in Los Angeles and co-founder of, Anthony Holland, co-founder of

If you’re a teacher in LAUSD with an issue you would like to publicize, email

One response so far

One Response to “Dissident LA Teacher Launches Virtual Commons for Other Teachers”

  1. Danon 24 Dec 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Any teacher evaluation process needs to have more than one administrator deciding who will be retained or let go. During crackdowns like this, insecure administrators can look like heroes to their superiors for seemingly being “tough” and getting rid of teachers – so tough that they wouldn’t be able to survive their own evaluation process if they were evaluating themselves as starting teachers. There will be a “witch hunt” unless teacher evaluations and observations and final verdicts on teacher retaining are not soley made by individuals who have it in their professional self interest interest to appear to be complicit in a crackdown.

    Support providers for California’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program are already observing teachers, and they could have a vote in the decision to retain.

    Unfortunately, some administrators are materialists who went into administration for the salary, and are not really the best people. Capping administrative salaries at 120 percent of teacher salaries would provide a fair pay increase for the advanced degree they need, etc., and hopefully weed out those who just get into it for the money. This would greatly help the evaluation process.