L.A. Unified exemplifies the forces that stifle public school reform

Sep 2, 2014 by

Sandy Banks – By now, Los Angeles Unified was supposed to be the technological model for big-city school systems.

All of its pupils would have iPads, teachers could access student data with the click of a mouse, and parents could check their children’s attendance and grades daily online.

But the student data and tracking system stumbled out of the gate three weeks ago when the new school year began. On some campuses teachers had no rosters, student schedules were scrambled and classrooms were either empty or overflowing. The computer system was so overloaded, it couldn’t process simple commands.

L.A. teachers union President Alex Caputo Pearl blames Deasy’s “autocratic style” for the technology missteps. (Katie Falkenberg, Los Angeles Times)

And the iPad project — the crown jewel of Supt. John Deasy’s reform campaign — was bungled so badly in its rollout last year that district-wide expansion was scaled back, then scrapped this week in the midst of concerns that the contracting process was tilted toward companies Deasy favored.

So instead of a groundbreaker, the district has become a national model of the tensions that stifle public school reform. Our technology projects were stranded between high-minded ideals and grass-roots realities; tripped up by jockeying over priorities, politics and power.

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Deasy is devoted to reforming the district and he won’t apologize for that. He sees education as a social justice issue; his job is to level the playing field for underprivileged kids.

via L.A. Unified exemplifies the forces that stifle public school reform – LA Times.

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