The Los Angeles Times’ Too Many Maverick Moments Finally Led to Deasy’s Undoing at LAUSD, by Howard Blume and James Rainey, is probably the best account of how the LA School Board finally lost patience with the “uncommunicative, ungovernable, somewhat detached leader.”
Journalists and scholars rightly take a dispassionate stance and place John Deasy’s defeat in the overall context of systematic change, and why it is hard to improve large urban school systems. The best of that genre is Deasy's Exit Reflects Other School Battles Across the U.S., by Teresa Watanabe and Stephen Ceasar, who place Deasy's rejection in the context of the backlash against corporate reform. He is one of many advocates of high stakes testing who are falling like dominoes.
Education policy and union leaders are correct in being gracious and not gloating over our victory in forcing the Broad-trained Deasy to resign.
I hope they all understand, however, why classroom teachers must celebrate the rejection of another teacher-bashing corporate reformer. People who haven’t been in the public school classroom can’t fully appreciate the humiliation of having to endure the venom of ideologues like Deasy, Michelle Rhee, and too many other accountability hawks.
Deasy, and others who say that data, leadership, and accountability can overcome the legacies of poverty by fostering High Expectations!, could in theory create such a culture by clearing out the deadwood and creating a lean and determined administrative culture. But, I would ask policymakers if they have ever heard of a punitive management system, in any sector of the economy, where top bureaucrats selflessly accepted all of charges placed on them, and they did not turn around and dump that toxicity on their subordinates.
Real world, the poison spewed by Deasy et. al always flows downhill. Teachers are denigrated. A test and punish culture invariably pollutes classrooms, and students are the prime victims. So, let’s take time to celebrate the defeat of Deasy, and use that energy to invigorate the counterattacks against Newark’s Cami Anderson, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, and Rahm Emanuel.
In doing so, we must also envision a time when the last test and punish reformer is not replaced by another blood-in-the-eye crusader. Then, we can celebrate and the turn all of our energy towards better, more humane schools for all.-JT (@drjohnthompson)