Glimpses of LA Unified meeting: iPads and kumbaya*
LA School Report | January 15, 2014
Debate at times was intense as ever yesterday.
Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer still didn’t seem to agree on much, the board ignored a recommendation from the Bond Oversight Committee and nobody thought Monica Garcia had a great idea in giving the entire board responsibility for taking District 1 interests into consideration with their votes.
But a change in attitude toward John Deasy was clearly evident. For these few hours, anyway, he appeared as everybody’s friend and confidante. And this is a superintendent, after all, who had grown so frustrated with board dysfunction a few months ago that he threatened to step down.
During a sometimes heated discussion over how many iPads to buy for the next round of distribution, Board President Richard Vladovic came close to cutting off any further discord by saying, “Let’s let the superintendent make the call and move on. I’m going to vote against anything that doesn’t allow him to do what’s best.”
How far have these two come? It was just about a year ago that Deasy was saying he’d resign if Vladovic became board president, and Vladovic let it be known he was not Deasy’s biggest fan.
This was as close to kumbaya as it gets.
Speakers from the audience were invited to weigh in on the iPad discussion, and one was David Lyell, secretary of United Teachers LA, who is running for reelection this year.
He used his three minutes to make a few political points, arguing to spend the money for things like teacher pay raises, an improved due process system and hiring more teachers, rather than buying iPads, which he claimed were good for little more than “preparing students to work in fast food restaurants.”
Deasy wasted no time offering a sharp rebuttal, saying that Lyell knew full well that the bond money for iPads cannot be used for the purposes he cited.
“It can’t be used to hire teachers, which we need,” he said. “It can’t be used to lower class size, which we should do, and it can’t be used for raises, which I have advocated.”
The long iPad debate ended with a unanimous vote to proceed with the next phase so that all students taking field tests this spring will be properly equipped and even more students will have them next year.
The measure also provides laptops for students at a handful of high schools and keyboards for all iPad users.
In effect, it was the same plan the board considered two months ago and put off voting for.
Passage came as a big relief to Deasy, who said just before the vote, “The administration would not relish bringing this back in front of you.”
*This version clarifies Garcia’s intent to have District 1 needs considered in votes by the other members.