Saturday, July 13, 2013

¡Venceremos! Join the community search for a new LAUSD superintendent!

An open letter and call to action to our LAUSD community and national education experts like Professor Ravitch regarding the urgent search for a new LAUSD Superintendent

UPDATE August 2014

If the union is sound and the teachers voted of their own free will, then the relationship between the school superintendent and the teachers is not simply bad, but dysfunctional of historic proportions. — Professor Bill Tierney

¡Venceremos! Join the community search for a new LAUSD superintendent!When John Deasy was proffered by Eli Broad and Mayor Villaraigosa as the sole candidate to replace the retiring Ramon C. Cortines, there was no attempt to consider the appropriate superintendent for the community. Even the typically equivocating Los Angeles School District (LAUSD) Board Member Steve Zimmer voiced serious concerns:

"We didn't have a process — internal or external — for the most important job in public education in the United States right now," he tells the Weekly. "It has nothing to do with John Deasy. I'm a big fan. ... But I can't be sure that I got the best person for the job if I didn't get to even talk to anybody else."

Democracies depend on processes. There was no process with Deasy. No vetting. No considering the pro and cons of multiple candidates. The only words that could begin to describe his installment are coronation and ordination.

Far more corporate executive than educator, Deasy's reign as LAUSD Superintendent been an abject exercise in neoliberalism. Marked first by a rash of school closures, reconstitutions, and new school giveaways to private institutions, Deasy made it clear to Los Angeles that he would indeed put his ideology derived from his stints at at the Broad Superintendents Academy and the Gates Foundation before the needs of students and community. There's a litany of complaints against Deasy, most of which are related to callous cuts to vital programs, wasteful and inappropriate spending priorities, adoption of discredited and unproven policies, defiance towards our publicly elected schoolboard, and open hostility towards the very educators tasked with teaching our community's children.

However, this isn't the space to discuss Deasy's glaring shortcomings and myriad failures as superintendent. Given that his only supporters are billionaires, nonprofits that are funded by those selfsame billionaires, and the disgraced former Mayor, there is no longer any reason for this individual to continue his neoliberal project of dismantling our public commons. Instead we are commencing the search for a new superintendent now so that we don't end up in the same situation as we did when Deasy was crowned.

To that end, we are soliciting a list of viable superintendent candidates we feel will best serve the students of Los Angeles. We are also soliciting a list of attributes the community wants our next superintendent to have. Some starter items are here, but it's important that this is a community project, so we want people to submit their suggestions here. Both of these lists will be continually updated. Join us. We can identify the next superintendent candidates who will serve our community. ¡Venceremos!

Candidates for LAUSD Superintendent

Responses to the campaign have been both encouraging and overwhelming. Over the weekend dozens of candidate names have been submitted, and we haven't even reached out to local grassroots groups for their suggestions. There is now a easy to fill out form at the bottom of this post.

Qualities we want in our next superintendent

Either enter qualities wanted in the comments below or email suggestions. If necessary, we'll create another form, but will continually update this list as needed.

  • Believes in educating the whole child
  • Believes in educating the children of every community.
  • Determined to listen to the community
  • A professional educator who has had at least some classroom teaching experience
  • Understands the relation between poverty and test scores, and advocate to ameliorate the devastating effects of poverty outside as well as inside schools
  • Bilingual or multilingual a big plus, but openness to openness to learning the languages of the community

Social media campaign

We intend to launch a social media campaign in support of this historic community project to find the right superintendent for our community. Stay tuned for details.

Candidate Suggestions


  1. I do not know the condition of his degrees or credentials, but I've been reading his stuff for years and I'd be behind Mr. Skeels for Superintendent. Do you have a fake PhD, Mr. Skeels? A fake PhD seems help. Furthermore, Mr. Skeels was kind enough to link one of his "Schools Matter" blogs to my "Deasy Must Go" piece, so that is another plus in my mind.

    The fact UTLA did not endorse anyone against Monica Garcia, though, especially given the fact we had a candidate like Robert Skeels running against her, gives me little hope of teachers taking meaningful action. Look at the recent Deasy "Stull" Evaluation. UTLA could only muster one teacher out of four to vote? If teachers can't even be bothered to fill out a simple survey, what hope is there for building a mass movement of non educators immune to the endless blathering of the billionaires? If teachers don't even care, why should anyone else? It breaks my heart. In the meantime, I nominate Skeels even if his PhD is real.

    1. Thank you for inquiring about the status of my degree. I'm currently a Classical Civilization major at UCLA with three classes left to complete my undergraduate work. I'll be walking in Spring of 2014.

      Then off to either Peoples College of Law or maybe even CSULA for an Education: Option in Reading, M.A.

      While humbled by your nomination for the District's top executive spot, I don't think I'd be qualified to provide for our students. My expertise, if you will, is in education policy, not the actual administration of said policy. I would have been an excellent board member, with my ability to rally the community and educate them on political issues behind pedagogy. Being a Superintendent takes a different skill set than that. Of course that's what separates principled politics from the neoliberal education reformers, who constantly take jobs they are woefully unqualified for. Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee come to mind.

  2. It is not, by any means an easy job, especially for someone following in Deasy's destructive path. There are few people who actually qualify. We need educators with experience in classrooms, we need professionals with integrity and vision. If only Vladovich was what he pretends to be. There is someone from LAUSD who might come close to this. His name is Michael Summe. But he has retired, and he is definitely too smart to wrestle the swarm of snakes thar infest Beaudry.
    Armande Fusco and Lois Weiner may be helpful in discerning which is best among seasoned Supts in America. One thing is for sure, we must everyone connected Eli Broad's Academy for School Leadership.