Oct 27, 2014
Los Angeles schools superintendent John Deasy was finally forced to resign on October 16, about one and a half years before his contract expired. Over his three and half year reign, Deasy had been engulfed in scandals. Over and over, his administration had been caught red handed, basically throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars on extremely expensive junk served up by big companies that never worked and sowed chaos in the schools. Apple and the Pearson publishing company, for example, were awarded a 1.3 billion-dollar contract for materials that were practically useless. Deasy was pushed out because these scandals put too bright a light on how money that was supposed to be for the schools was really being spent.
Throughout his term, Deasy had aggressively attacked teachers. He carried out measures aimed at making it easier for the district to fire higher seniority teachers, who have more experience and earn higher pay. It was one way to save money on the schools in order to funnel it into the profits for business.
Not surprisingly, schools in working-class neighborhoods continued to get worse under Deasy. Continual layoffs of teachers and other school workers resulted in crowded classrooms and school buildings in disrepair. Right now, more than two months into the school year, many students at various working-class schools are still not assigned to classes they need to graduate.
Deasy’s policies are not an accident. They are the same policies as those of school boards across the country in the name of “school reform”. And they are certainly the same policies advocated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who had strongly supported Deasy up to the very end.
These “reforms” are nothing but a systematic attack on the education of working class children that is being advocated by well-known billionaires such as Bill Gates, the Walton family and Eli Broad. Deasy himself had been an executive for the Gates Foundation. These “reformer” billionaires have poured big money into a nationwide effort to hand management of public schools to private interests, such as charter companies, in order to open up education more for profit.
Deasy may be gone, but his departure, by itself, does not mean a change in policy. In fact, that’s exactly what members of the L.A. school board said after Deasy was pushed out. And the school board confirmed this by replacing Deasy by Ramon Cortines who had been the superintendent before Deasy. Cortines, like Deasy, pushed through “reforms,” that is, attacks, and Cortines had also groomed Deasy as his successor.
No, shuffling the deck at the top of the schools won’t stop the cuts and other attacks on the education of the children of the working class.
That can only be imposed by the struggle of working people fighting to have their needs met.