David Lyell is a 13-year veteran LAUSD teacher, and secretary of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA).
David was one of six activists to march the entire 352-miles from Bakersfield to Sacramento from March 5 to April 21, 2010 as part of The March For California's Future, a diverse coalition of labor, faith, parents, educators and children calling for tax fairness and adequate funding for public education and essential public services in California.
David has blogged for the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism's Intersections SouthLA, as a free-lance reporter and photographer for a defunct cycling publication in Southern California, Southwest Cycling, and also wrote for another shuttered newspaper, The Peninsula Times Tribune.
Prior to the LAUSD vote January 13, 2014 to approve Phase II of the district's $1 billion iPad project, I shared the following remarks with school board members during the three minutes allotted each speaker during Public Comment:
“Good afternoon, board members, Superintendent, sorry about that [jumping the gun], I was looking for my iPad. Part of this discussion about iPads has been framed as — I'm David Lyell, UTLA Secretary — it's been framed as a debate about who should and should not have access to technology. No one is opposed to providing students with access to technology. This project really isn't about technology. This is about providing a vehicle for students to conveniently complete common core state standards testing.”
No one wants an adult who abuses children in the classroom, and existing laws and policies work when adults actually enforce them. In fact, in the wake of several high profile cases in Los Angeles Unified School District, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing admonished District officials for failing to do just that—follow existing reporting guidelines.
Nowadays in LAUSD, when teachers assigned to “teacher jail” pending investigation of an accusation (any accusation—even a hearsay accusation without any evidence) have been cleared by police of wrongdoing, our School Board and superintendent frequently refuse to return these professionals to the classroom
vote to elect a president. While the School Board president doesn't have expanded powers, the position affords an opportunity to set the tone, run Board meetings, and work closely with the superintendent to determine meeting agendas. In a 5-2 vote, the Board elected District 7 Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic as its president. According to a July 6 L.A. Times article
by Howard Blume, prior to the vote, Superintendent Deasy indicated that, were the Board to elect Vladovic as its president, Deasy would resign.
, and housed teachers. You've seen YouTube videos where students openly talk about how easy it is to get a teacher fired. Students you respect have shared with you that they know there won’t be any consequences for them if they make false allegations against a teacher.
One day you’re informed that you are no longer to report to school. Why? You are told that you will later be provided the reason. But not right now. You’ve always been someone who follows the rules, and you know this mixup will be resolved in a few days. You report to an off-campus location, where other “housed” teachers are.
When teachers are accused of misconduct, sometimes we’re outright fired or placed in “rubber rooms,” a.k.a. teacher jail. According to LA Unifed School District policy (Bulletin-5168.0), if no impropriety is discovered, we’re supposed to return to our assignment within 120 days. Yet teachers routinely languish away in rubber rooms for years while the District places blame for this exile on the time it takes to conduct police investigations.
In fact, not only has it been longer than 120 days for the 85 teachers removed from Miramonte Elementary in February—not only have they not yet been allowed to return—they were never suspected of any wrongdoing. Well, what happens when those who work at LAUSD’s central offices are suspected of misconduct? Does a different standard apply?
Dear LAUSD School Board Members, Superintendent Deasy, Secretary Duncan, and President Obama,
We all want to provide the educational opportunities for children and our communities. Please help me receive clarity on the following:
Instead of sending Title I, II, and III money to school sites, as is intended under these programs, LAUSD senior management has chosen to keep this money at central district offices in order to fund unproven, costly initiatives such as the Teaching and Learning Initiative, commonly known as the Value-Added Teacher Evaluation model.
Due to a lack of transparency (the dust hasn't yet settled), it's not even clear yet how much will be spent centrally on these unproven programs, but it appears to be well over $175 million. Is this legal?
LAUSD has issued more than 9,500 RIF notices to UTLA bargaining unit members, denying educational opportunities to our communities, and shuttering Arts Programs, Adult Education, and Early Childhood Education.
The LAUSD school board majority says they they don't have a choice, even though they're spending $2 million to $4 million (the equivalent of 25 to 50 employees) on citywide implementation of the Early Start Calendar; they're keeping $200 million locked away in a drawer, accounting for it as money they'll spend later; and over the next four years the District intends to increase the number of administrators by 27% (according to the four-year budget LAUSD submitted to the county).
With the recent Los Angeles Unified School District/United Teachers Los Angeles agreement to stabilize schools, LAUSD officials embraced a renewed commitment to fixing schools rather than continuing to abdicate that responsibility to outside interests.
Then, they took four steps back by creating a devastating “fiscal stabilization” budget that would decimate communities and educational opportunities. In a small spot of good news, School Board members voted unanimously to delay approving this budget, but they will take the issue back up on March 13.