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School Board Candidate Praises Deasy’s Efforts to Limit Tenure

Hillel Aron | May 3, 2013

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School Board candidate Monica Ratliff (right)

School Board candidate Monica Ratliff met with 15 or so teachers and LAUSD employees Thursday night at an event sponsored by Teach Plus.

During the hour-long discussion, the candidate for District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) did as much listening as she did talking, asking teachers about their concerns on issues such as local autonomy and teacher training.

“She was interested in what teachers had to say,” said John Lee, Executive Director for Teach Plus Los Angeles after the event. “It shows what kind of a Board Member she would be.”

She also answered questions from teachers on a number of issues, including Superintendent John Deasy, local autonomy for schools and teacher training. She refused, however, to answer any questions from LA School Report.

Ratliff, a 5th grade teacher at San Pedro Elementary, spoke passionately about improving professional development, vocational education in high school and lowering class size. She was also full of praise for Superintendent Deasy.

“He’s done some really good things for the district,” she said, citing the fact that he’s made it harder for new teachers to get tenure. “We are no longer handing out tenure like candy… This profession is not for everyone.”

Around 95 percent of teachers who apply for tenure get it. Before Deasy took over, the number was over 99 percent.

Ratliff also complimented Deasy for putting more decision items in front of the School Board, as he will do at the next Board meeting, saying it would “make the Board more accountable.”

Raliff’s position on Deasy has changed a number of times.

Back in February, at a candidates forum before the primary, Ratliff declined to evaluate Deasy’s job performance, saying, “I would need to know more.”

After coming in second place in the primary, she hardened her stance, telling LA School Report  that she would favor terminating Deasy’s contract, adding that he would be allowed to re-apply.

She later complained to this reporter that her remarks were taken “out of context,” saying that the only reason she had called for a new search for a district superintendent was because she had learned that Deasy was hired without any other candidates being considered. (This was the same reason Board Member Steve Zimmer abstained when the vote was taken in 2011).

Ratliff’s call for a new superintendent search spurred the LA Times editorial board to reconsider its endorsement of Ratliff, and invited her in for a second interview, where she abruptly reversed her position, saying “she thought he’d been a strong leader and that if she were in a position to decide on Deasy’s contract today, she would vote to renew it.”

The Times kept its endorsement; however, Ratliff has since stopped speaking to LA School Report. According to Teach Plus’ John Lee, initially she said that she wouldn’t come to the event when she found out that LA School Report would be at Thursday’s event. But she apparently changed her mind.

Notably absent was Ratliff’s opponent, Antonio Sanchez. Sanchez had been invited, and the date of the event had initially been moved to accommodate him. But according to Lee, after the date was moved, Sanchez stopped returning Teach Plus’s phone calls.

“I can’t say what he was thinking,” said Teach Plus chief Lee. “In a democratic society, you want to hear from candidates and have them questioned. If you’re running for LAUSD School Board you should be able to stand up on front of teachers.”

Shockingly, there are currently no public debates scheduled between the two District 6 School Board candidates.

Previous posts: Sanchez Unavailable for Candidate ForumDaily News Addresses Ratliff Union RoleDistrict 6 Candidate Commits to Support DeasyDistrict 6 Candidate Hardens Position on DeasyUnion Endorsements Unchanged for District 6

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