On hearing of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy’s acceptance of an offer to head a Maryland school dirstrict, Harry M. Keiley, President of the district’s Classroom Teacher’s Association said that while the Teacher’s Association was grateful for Deasy’s five years of service, that first rate teaching and high student achievement will not end when he departs. While Keiley praised Deasy for his commitment to all students, the union chief said that parents and individual teachers had the greatest impact in the lives of students, saying “at the end of the day, it’s when parents and teachers work together that students are most successful.“Superintendent Deasy fought hard on the issues that were important to him, just as we fought hard on the issues that mattered to us. Where there was common ground, we were able to work together,” Keiley said, pointing to the extraordinary joint use agreement with the City of Santa Monica, two successful parcel tax campaigns, successful efforts to keep teacher to student ratios in K-3 low in the face of unprecedented state budget cuts, limiting teacher supervision duties, increased investments at Santa Monica High School to reduce the counselor-to-student ratio and contract language to support nationally board certified teachers” as examples of the Association and the Superintendent’s office “sometimes” successful partnership. However, Keiley noted that the Teacher’s Association and Deasy didn’t always see eye to eye. “We were proud to have been on the prevailing side in opposing charter schools in SMMUSD,” he said, “and on more than one occasion we worked tirelessly to convince the superintendent to replace ineffective and unsupportive administrators.”The past five years offered real economic challenges for California schools. Despite the skyrocketing costs of health insurance and the state’s failure to fund K-12 schools at the levels required by Prop 98, the teachers’ leadership team succeeded in preserving its members health benefits and securing modest pay increases. “Our team never lost sight of our core values,” Keiley said.The Union will convene in a special session of its Executive Board to decide how best to seek input from its members about candidates for Deasy’s successor, citing the de-emphasis of role of standardized testing as a particular concern. Still, while saying that the Union “expects that the most important element of any child’s education, their teachers, will be consulted on who is named the next superintendent and what that next superintendent’s policies will be,” Keiley said. “Whoever the next superintendent is, we want to make sure that he or she continues to work on empowering teachers and administrators at school sites, where the difficult work of educating our children is done.”
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