Earlier this month the LA Times reported that a group of parents and taxpayers sued the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to make the district follow the law by assessing teachers on how much their students have learned, writes Bill Evers at Freedom Politics.
Requested by the attorneys for the plaintiffs, a court order was drafted in consultation with EdVoice. Before going to court, the plaintiffs sent a letter on Oct. 26 asking the district to comply.
In the letter, the plaintiffs' attorneys say that the district "refuses to implement the Stull Act in complete abdication of its responsibility to its students, their parents, and the taxpayers of the district," stressing that for years the district has engaged in wanton lawlessness.
The letter also states that the teachers' union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) was heavily involved in this lawbreaking. Compliance with the law, the letter says, has been "deliberately evaded" through a series of "complicitous" collective-bargaining agreements between the LAUSD and UTLA, at the expense of students.
By making collective-bargaining agreements with the teachers' union that overrule a statute passed by the state legislature, the district believed that it can avoid compliance with the Stull Act.
"Valid contracts are written under and within the law, not in violation of the law. The lawsuit seeks to end this make-believe in the service of lawbreaking."
The plaintiffs' attorneys say that the UTLA has treated the public school system in Los Angeles as "a taxpayer-funded jobs and entitlement program" for adults, even when a teacherâs performance would be considered "demonstrably unsatisfactory" when judged by pupil results.
In their Nov. 1 petition they described how the teachers' union adopted a strategy of "stonewalling" when it came to putting the Stull Act into effect.
"In collusion with the Districtâs governing boards and superintendents," the petition says, the teachers' union has blocked lawful evaluation of teachers and the "corrective action" needed to ensure that students get effective teachers.
Witlin, one of the attorneys, told education policy analyst and blogger RiShawn Biddle: "The school district is supposed to exist for the benefit of the children and not for the adults."
The petition cites damning statements from LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy in which he condemns his own evaluation program for teachers.
For example, he recently said:
"I would argue that nobody has told me that the current system of evaluation, which is performance review, helps anybody. It is fundamentally useless. It does not actually help you get better at [your] work and it doesnât tell you how well you're doing."
Superintendent Deasy also stated: "One would have to argue: âSo â¦ there are schools where 3 percent of the students are proficient at math and 100 percent of the teachers are at the top rating performance.' That doesnât make sense to me whatsoever. And it doesnât make sense because the rating performance does not actually help teachers get better."