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September 04, 2014

Los Angeles iPad Story Keeps Growing; Critics More Pointed

The iPad story in Los Angeles grows, as we had predicted. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy sent the school board a six-page memo defending his actions. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times called for greater transparency, for the release of the district inspector general's reports, and for a new investigation.

September 02, 2014

iPad Scandal Grows in L.A., Raising Leadership Questions

The story of how the Los Angeles Unified School District contracted for iPads and software with Apple and Pearson is not going away. Calls for investigation continue along with public questions about whether Superintendent John Deasy can, or should, survive this issue and others. But the important issue is not the contract; it's the strategy behind it.

August 29, 2014

L.A. District's Contract With Apple, Pearson Criticized in Report

An internal review says the Los Angeles Unifed school system's bidding process for a $1 billion tech project may have given an advantage to certain vendors.

August 29, 2014

L.A. School iPad Deal With Apple, Pearson Critiqued in Board Report

Perceived conflicts of interest, possible manipulation in the bidding process, and questions about Pearson's curriculum are addressed in a review of the L.A. school system's iPad purchase.

August 27, 2014

Contracting Not an Easy Answer, as Los Angeles iPad Venture Shows

After disclosures of possible improprieties in the negotiation and letting of contracts, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy has halted purchases of Apple iPads under a $30-million contract that was to be the first round of a $1-billion program. Now that the district has hit the reset button on the troubled program, it's time to learn from experience. The real lesson here isn't about iPads; it's about managing through contract.

August 25, 2014

Who Are These Kids? Language Learners in California

The English Language Learner lawsuit ruled upon August 12 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant probably won't grab the attention of Silicon Valley billionaires the way the Vergara suit has, but it's still a big deal. EL students make up about a quarter of the state's student population, and it's important to understand who they are.

August 19, 2014

What Happens When Teachers Run Schools?

Teacher-led schools are often defined by what they don't have: a conventional administrator. At the Mission Hill School in Boston, the subject of a PBS Newshour report on Monday, the school as a whole makes decisions and the principal doesn't even have a proper office. Though still rare, these schools carry valuable lessons about how to expand responsibility and authority for teachers. Yet, the real payoff occurs in how students step up and take responsibility for their own learning.

August 18, 2014

Building a Decentralized School System Begins With Teaching, Not Testing

Last week's election in Los Angeles settled—at least for a few months—the question of who is going to be "on the bus" at L.A. Unified. So, as the school district welcomes George McKenna to the horseshoe shaped board table, let's talk about the process of building a new bus. For the last 30 years, at least, reformers have tried to reinvent public schooling in the City of Angels. None has succeeded, and virtually all their plans have been built around the same four elements. But their implementation has tended to get things backward.

August 12, 2014

Steve Barr Tries to Bridge Union-Reformer Divide in Reboot of California's 'Democrats for Education Reform'

Steve Barr has organizing in his DNA, and he, along with retired union leader Joe Boyd, have announced an effort to recreate the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform as a union-friendly environment. They want to go beyond wedge issues and toward big picture ideas that have broad support. But just getting used to saying pro-union and DFER in the same sentence is a stretch.

August 11, 2014

Negative and Nasty Regime Politics: Another L.A. School Board Election

Tuesday, voters will go to the polls in Los Angeles to elect a member in school board District #1. The race between retired school administrator George McKenna and aspiring politician Alex Johnson has turned negative and nasty. It's enough to make you think that there must be a better way. Maybe, just maybe, some political energy could be directed toward capacity building rather than regime politics.

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