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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 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 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 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.

August 07, 2014

What We Read to Keep On California 'On'

Readers have asked us how to keep up with what's happening in California. Reading 'On California,' and following us on Twitter, is a good way, the best in our estimation. But what do we read? And what do we recommend to our readers? Here's an incomplete and changing list.

June 26, 2014

Poll Shows Support for Vergara Restrictions

A public opinion poll released Thursday shows that a large majority of Californians supports the restrictions on tenure and due process that were the subject of the recent Vergara decision.

June 16, 2014

Even in Winning, Vergara Is Still a Loser

Remember the analogy test you had to take to get into college. Well, here's one: Vergara is to education reform as pancake makeup is to beauty. Makeup covers up the pockmarks and makes the surface look better. But it doesn't do anything about the body's systemic problems that caused the blemishes.

June 13, 2014

In Vergara Aftermath, Opportunity and Danger

The Vergara decision brings opportunity but probably no action, writes Peter Schrag, and comes at a time of great danger for teacher unions, writes Stephanie Simon.

May 23, 2014

Previewing the Torlakson and Tuck Interviews

I preview interviews with California's state superintendent and his challenger. The interviews, including links to full transcriptions, will appear next week.

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