Monday, December 12, 2011

Update: PSC is not “public school choice

This post is an update to: PSC is not “public school choice"

Update for 12/12/11 contracts, board members, and the limits of self-delusion

Public School Choice is looking to go the way of numerous other district innovations, oblivion.  While most district innovations tend to get ignored from successive bureaucrats, PSC is dying a different death.  PSC’s death is the result of dozens of stakeholders running away from it in different directions, not a simple union vote. 

Death number 1, not with a twenty-foot poll.  Whatever PSC was, no one who worked on it in central wanted to keep it going at a day to day level.  The position to run PSC within the district could not be filled, it got talked about, even posted for a time, but no one wanted to run it.  Who was running it before? The previous keepers of PSC were people that were assigned to run it after their prior jobs were eliminated. 

Death number 2, limits of self-delusion.  PSC relied on some god awful criteria that would have chewed up most of the district’s schools if it had kept increasing raw API 20 points a year up to 800 points.  Whatever PSC was, it was targeted to improve chronically low performing schools, once you’ve tackled all the chronic low performing, why keep it going?   The PSC 3.0 criteria relied on strict achievement measures regardless of the some schools having high Value Added scores, in other words some schools were on PSC because of outside factors and not the teachers.  Once the district crossed streams with its Value Added and PSC goals, they discovered some schools were severely mislabeled and took them off PSC 3.0.  Not only were some schools taken off PSC, once you account for the teacher’s role in educating students via Value added measures, some schools that had appeared to be high achieving were in fact abysmal.   With two different criteria for evaluating schools the district would not be able to keep PSC while pursuing Value Added Models.

Death number 3, Board members found their voices. Tamar Galatzan cracked the veneer when she kept her new schools to herself, she wanted new schools fed by high achieving schools to remain public schools.  Once the idea that fundamental parts of PSC could change, there was a frenzy of board members looking to tweak it.  Why new schools were ever put on the list made little sense, unless it was the district’s way of saying they had no faith in their administrators to handle opening new schools.  Tamar, Kayser, LaMotte, and Zimmer all gave dissents to the status quo with PSC.

Death number 4, Voting. The votes on PSC schools, parent, advisory, community, faculty, etc, really meant nothing until the Board vote.  Keep in mind the vote on PSC schools is not on all schools that got put on PSC, just those that Deasy allowed to get past him.  In other words Deasy was able to come up with new criteria late in the game for PSC 3.0 schools and took a bunch off.  This was the right move and acknowledged just how backwards the PSC 3.0 criteria was, at the same time it meant schools that were not taken off had lost the confidence of the superintendent to keep running under their current formation.  No matter what the public thought, it didn’t matter because their voice had been removed by a report furnished by our new director of parent involvement Maria Casillas, then head of Families in Schools.  Families in Schools was dismayed to see 80% of parents at PSC schools were happy with their school .  The only information the Board members have to vote on is their own presumptions about reform® and Deasy’s passive dismissal of the school when he had a chance to save it.  If your thought the Board followed the recommendations of the readers and the superintendent, please look at PSC 2.0 votes.

Death number 5, The Mercy Rule.  There is simply too much embarrassment for the district to continue PSC as the PSC policy would begin to attack wealthier and wealthier schools with it's backwards criteria. UTLA came in with a mercy offer to embed language that nullified PSC in it's new contract.  UTLA makes it look like they fought off PSC with the district to look good for its members and LAUSD gets to drop PSC.  It’s a win for both bureaucracies, LAUSD doesn’t admit a wrong the UTLA gets to pretend it got a “major victory” for its members.
At the end of the day we have to ask is getting rid of PSC for the wrong reasons acceptable, or could we have had an honest conversation so we could learn?

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