LA teachers union asks judge to stop voluntary value-added program
United Teachers Los Angeles has asked a judge to halt a preliminary pilot program aimed at streamlining plans by the Los Angeles Unified School District to roll out a value-added model for evaluating teachers by the 2013-2014 school year.
The program would award 900 teachers a $1,250 stipend, extensive feedback and paid time off for participating. UTLA has said the district is practicing unfair labor standards in explaining their legal motion.
New LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who described his politics as left of center at an American Enterprise Institute presentation earlier in May, has been a noted proponent of entering student performance on standardized tests into the teacher evaluation mix.
Deasy joined former LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortinez last August as his top aide. Their relationship was raucous at times, says a report from the Los Angeles Times, indicating the arrangement worked in part because Cortinez focused on steering the district through painful budget cuts while Deasy fortified the office’s position on teacher evaluations. When the Times ran its first value-added analysis of thousands of LAUSD teachers last August, Deasy used the opportunity to make teacher performance a hallmark issue within the administration.
Prior to joining LAUSD, Deasy served as Deputy Director of Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, overseeing the multi-billion dollar organization’s research on teacher effectiveness. He had previously served as the superintendent for the affluent Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District near Los Angeles and Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, the nation’s 18th largest school district.
A Recent New York Times profile of the funding the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation underwrites for education research shows the organization’s breadth of influence. Frderick M. Hess, who hosted Deasy’s appearance at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in early May, told NYT the $500,000 his think tank received from the foundation in 2009 puts pressure on him and other researchers:
“As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.”
Deasy was with the Gates Foundation from September 2008 through part of 2010.