Jul 26, 2014
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Open Letter to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy

A parent of two middle school students at Palms Middle School sends an open letter to Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy.

Open Letter to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy

Dear Dr Deasy:

She told us she'd go down with the ship, ... but you've forced her to walk the gang plank.


You have on Los Angeles' very own Westside, snuggled smack dab within the boundaries of LAUSD District 3, a "Model School Of Excellence" by your very own designation.

Palms Middle School is a learning community of identified gifted-learners (GATES) and local neighborhood learners all rolled into three fabulous, seamless, Schools That Work. Children at Palms Middle School are learning by any measure you take, and measure them you have.  They spend an inordinate percentage of their school lives being sized up and scrutinized and measured out for the tailored suit of standardized rote learning that cloaks them.  And yet, despite so many self-indulgent metrices, the endless gauging, plumbing and measuring, you seem never quite to have *noticed* the results of your tests.

Right here in your midst lies Palms Middle School, the very shining paradigm of a SCHOOL THAT IS WORKING.  Children are learning, their test scores are high, and climbing steadily upward every year, importantly among every socioeconomic and scholastic strata. Any way you look at it, the entire school shows consistent, impressive gains. While other local charter schools may claim higher overall scores, these are average numbers that do not stand up to strata-specific scrutiny.

Palms Middle School educates children, and educates them better than others, regardless of socioeconomic status. This is a truly egalitarian school, truly diverse and integrated. By collecting together in one vessel so many excellent students and teachers in an atmosphere of high expectation, superior pedagogy and committed involvement, absolutely everyone's boat floats here: gifted, special-needs, rich and poor alike. This is not a rarefied community of economically or academically pre-selected, privileged learners; it is a school where very nearly half the students are Title I compliant (i.e., "poor"); an authentic slice of the city. The children here are happy, they are healthy and friendly and accomplished.  This institution is a blazing success story by any metric you care to engage.

But. Has anyone noticed??? Have YOU noticed? 

Because while you have been out patrolling whole school communities closed down for the sins of one or two among them, behind and beneath your gaze has been this - and likely several other - schools where competence has been eked from pitifully inadequate budgets year after year after year:  to your utter and willful disregard.

Sending insult after injury, you have squeezed this school's budget dryer than a skeleton core, and then extracted its entitled Title I funding as well, sending an administrative pall overnight of the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars onto the sodden desk of the principal.  After forcing her to do with less and less until there was no more to do less with, you then cut into her work staff, the vaunted vital "team" of support staff so highly extolled by you for your own needs.  Not satisfied with weakening her ship to this dangerous degree, you have sent this 35 year public school inspirational veteran of alchemic miracles, notice that she may be hired back after RIF-ing, but only at reduced personal salary.       

But here's the thing.  This is an administrator who has commanded a ship that works, Excellently -- and you very simply have just not noticed.  Never have you asked:  What is Working here. Never have you visited.  Never have you investigated what principles, skills, tools, techniques have rendered this school such an admirable well-oiled "School Of Excellence" (LAUSD's designation).  Instead of honoring, scrutinizing and studying this venerable institution that is performing so excellently, you are willfully sabotaging the ship. You have withdrawn vital monies.  You have removed critical staff and faculty.  You have even whittled away at the personal salary of the one you are requiring ever-more work of amidst infinitely fewer resources.    

You have forced Palms Middle Schools' principal to walk the plank and she has jumped.  She has jumped ship, leaving us rudderless.     

This is more than a tragedy, it is censurable and unconscionable.  As a parent, I am appealing to you personally, entreating that you inquire after the means of excellence of this school immediately, yesterday - before it is too late.  There is a treasure trove of excellence housed within this school in the form of its principal and much support staff as well that you seem poised to permit to disperse heedlessly.  This is not acceptable.  Excellence is not so easily achieved that we any of us can afford to let it dissipate.

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to the constituents of Palms Middle School that are working.  Do not permit its principal to be lost to us.  Do not dismiss vital support staff and slash its budget and faculty.  This ship is foundered and can sustain no more insult. SAVE OUR SHIP.  Sustain Palms Middle School.

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