Monday, October 13, 2014

Los Angeles Unified School District Stonewalls Researcher Asking for Demographic Data on Its PAR Program

 One of the unacknowledged tragedies in education policy is the United States is the systematic marginalization and forced retirement of  a generation of veteran teachers, many of them teachers of color, who could play a valuable role in helping young teachers adapt to the challenges of their new job. Done in the name of "improving teacher quality," a variety of strategies have been implemented which have directly or indirectly forced the firing of veteran teachers or pushed them into a reserve labor pool.  One such strategy, approved by the major national  teachers unions, has been PAR  the Peer Assisance and Review Program. Originated with the professed goal of identifying low performing teachers and giving them the help they need to improve their skills, the program has, in all too many school districts, been implemented in such a way as to allow school districts to sharply cut costs by removing teachers with the most seniority and highest salaries.

 One of the scholars who has done the most to reveal the discriminatory dimensions of PAR, as it has been implemented in California School Districts, is BAT Research Team member Brian Crowell., Looking at data in the Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco school districts, Brian Crowell has not only documented a sharp decline in the percentage of Black teachers in all three districts in the last ten years, he has gathered data from the PAR program in all three districts which show that teachers with the greatest seniority have been the ones overwhelmingly placed in that program, making a prima facie case for age discrimination, and quite possibly race discrimination, that may well be the subject of future litigatio

 Now Brian Crowell has turned his attention to the Los Angeles Unified School District and has asked for demographic data on teachers in their PAR program. After being stonewalled for several weeks, he received a letter saying he would have to pay $1,200 for the information he requested. Clearly the LAUSD is not anxious to have this data made public.  Which suggests that they are not anxious for people to see the age and race distribution of teachers referred to PAR.  Here is Brian Crowell's memo on his Los Angeles data request:

My name is Brian Crowell. I am a member of the CTA Union. On September 11, 2014 I made a Public Records Request to the Los Angeles Unified School District. I requested the age, race, gender and placement on salary schedule for teachers referred to Peer Assistance and Review. I request the calendar years of 2003-2013 for this data.

Los Angeles Unified School District responded to my query on October 10th, 2014. In their letter to me, LAUSD stated that they would comply with my request if I paid a fee of $1,200.00 for compiling the data into an electronic format. The Public Records Act does allow for the institution to charge for the labor to compile the information, however $1,200.00 is absolutely outrageous!

My theory. The time period of a month to respond to my query tells me the LAUSD legal department was trying to find a way to exempt disclosure. I have no evidence of this. The data itself, I believe will suggest massive age discrimination particularly of teachers over the age of 46. I think the $1,200.00 fee is to also dissuade me from getting the information.

I have been in contact with members of the UTLA Leadership who have shown interest in this issue. I hope they help me in endeavor to obtain this information.

  Brian Crowell's research calls for a very careful analysis, by local and national leaders of teachers unions,ly, whether this highly touted program has been used in a discriminatory fashion. It is not unknown for once promising ideas that teachers unions supported to be corrupted in implementation. Just look at Charter Schools. 


Cut to Chase said...

As a 26-year LAUSD vet (retired), no malfeasance on the part of the central "suits" surprises me. Deasy wants the vets out. His despicable removal of the legendary and revered Iris Stevenson from Crenshaw sent a clear signal that no one is safe and that all should fear him.

I did witness PAR make a difference for a woman who entered teaching as a second career, had done a few years in a church-run private school, and was not a good fit for the high school to which she was assigned. The two PAR teachers who worked with her made a huge difference. The following year she transferred to a magnet middle school, which was a much better fit for her.

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