The last time John Deasy changed jobs we were having breakfast in DC the day it was formally announced discussing a Washington Post editorial critical of his decision to leave Maryland’s P.G County and head to the Gates Foundation where he was instrumental in designing their human capital strategy*. Today, it will be hard for anyone to criticize his decision to leave Gates and take the #2 role in the LAUSD, announced yesterday.
When you consider the dysfunctional politics in LA (and California), the scale of the district, the reactionary teachers’ union, and the fiscal catastrophe that passes for the state’s finances Deasy’s willingness to step in should be commended. He believes the kids in LA deserve better than what they’re getting and is willing to break his pick for it. In Deasy the district gets a thoughtful and high-energy reformer who can balance the imperative and urgency of change with the internal dynamics of managing change in complicated systems. That said, he’s in for a rough ride as the whiff of a succession plan is sure to stir up all sorts of trouble and agendas and though you won’t hear criticism there will be plenty of second-guessing of his decision to put himself out there like this. One rumor that can be easily dispatched is that Deasy will be some sort of tentacle of the Gates Foundation. Anyone who has seen him operate knows that’s not his way. A good day for LA.
*Gates provides support for this blog and other Bellwether work.