The $517,500 good-bye

When Los Angeles Unified hired a retired admiral with minimal education experience as superintendent, some wondered if David Brewer would be up to the job.  Two years into his four-year contract, the school board – with some new members — has voted to fire Brewer “without cause,” entitling him to a $517,500 buy-out. The state’s financial crisis has left the district short of funds. Good luck getting teachers to accept cuts if Brewer gets half a million dollars for not working.

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  1. Miller T. Smith says:

    Then why fire him? Why not honor the contract and pay him to work? Hmmm. let’s go to the papers and see what the issue really happens to be….

  2. Looks like a dysfuntional politicized board to me, with outside interference from the former and current mayors of LA.

    I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would take on such a job, and I say that having a close friend who is a superintendent in Upstate New York. Brewer’s smartest move was to hire someone to handle the day to day operations of the district. Even my friend puts in regular 80 hour weeks because of having to be the CEO of the district (inwards facing) and the necessity of dealing with the School Board and the local community & parents (outwards facing). There is simply no way that Brewer could do both jobs effectively.

    And he must have realized that early on. In the Navy, where Brewer is from, the XO of a ship runs the internal stuff while the CO runs the external stuff and keeps an eye on the XO. Many corporations are run this way, too, e.e., having a CEO and a COO. Organizations have just become too complex for one person to run effectively.

    Back to the Board in LA. It’s a different board from the one that hired him, even if all the members haven’t changed. I have seen that first hand with my friend’s board, which can change as much as one-third in a single year. The politics and changing alignments within a school board are simply amazing.

  3. I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would take on such a job…

    I’d say that was fairly obvious…

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    Good luck getting teachers to accept cuts if Brewer gets half a million dollars for not working.

    When the districts run out of money, the teachers can accept cuts (in salary or in personnel) or the district can bounce checks. Payroll makes up the vast bulk of district spending, so there isn’t much wiggle room.

    The teachers can be as grumpy as they like about this, but when the money runs out it doesn’t really matter…

    -Mark Roulo

  5. Looks like a dysfuntional politicized board to me,

    Isn’t that redundant?

  6. Why do teachers have to take pay cuts? Why do schools have to make do with fewer resources? Who’s bright idea was it to treat schools as if they were a business? Schools are not businesses. We should not be cutting education budgets when the economy is bad. In fact, we should do just the opposite! The most important mission in a democratic society MUST be to educate its youth. We cannot afford to shortchange our youth. Schools lag years behind the business community in the use of modern technology. Why? Money. Programs such as art, foreign language and industrial arts (now career and technical education) are cut. Why? Money. School districts have to make do with deteriorating facilities, cutting transportation, pay to play athletic programs and outdated resources and learning materials. Why? Money. It’s about time this country stepped up and put education in its righful place – at the top of our priority list – before we become a third world country.

  7. Miller T. Smith says:

    Seems from the LA Times search I did that the new mayor wanted to change the BOE and appoint the new super himself so the previous BOE installed a new super with a 4 year contract to thwart the new mayor. The new BOE takes their positions and with the mayor, start trying to get the super to leave.

    It’s all politics and nothing else. So to blame the super for taking money the BOE (previous) contracted with him is a bit unfair. Blame the present BOE and mayor for not honoring the contract. Heck, for what I can tell there is no real complaint about the super that one can actually respond to. The present BOE is being hit for refusing to set performance standards for the super and then complaining about hte super’s performance.

    Silly silly people playing games with public money. This is yet another reason to get the government out of schooling.

  8. LAUSD Teacher says:

    While there’s undoubtedly politics involved, to say that Admiral Brewer was an uninspiring leader who was unable to accomplish any of the educational reforms he promised would be to put it mildly. Incompetence? No. But ineffectual—yes.

    Of course his lack of experience in education wasn’t a secret…it was on his resume.

    However, it seems a bit disingenuous to ask teachers and students for sacrifices in the midst of a budget crisis and then personally take half a million dollars out of the district coffers.

    As for accepting cuts, it does seem like shutting down some of the eight mini-district offices which are in addition to a huge central office beaurocracy might be a first budget step rather than going first after teacher benefits.

    The district also recently spent over a hundred million dollars on a payroll system that didn’t work and let the company off with a slap on a wrist and now blames teacher salaries and benefits on their shortfalls.

  9. Interestingly enough, charters don’t enjoy the dubious benefits of a bloated, central office staff and they seem to do well enough to bring into the question the value of the central office staff. Not to mention the legions of educationally-dubious, but nicely paid, functionaries that inflict themselves on their inferiors at school buildings.

  10. College Professor says:

    Their mistake was they went to the wrong service. The Navy and the Air Force are comprised of men and women who are effectively engineers and technicians. They are very good at what they do, but boring holes in the water and the sky doesn’t take leadership or inspiration. If they wanted leadership they should have hired an Army or Marine Corps combat flag officer. They have to know how to lead and inspire, or they don’t survive. Additionally, they have had to train their subordinates throughout their career, so education is second nature to them.

  11. Catch Thirty-Thr33 says:

    College Professor – That seems like a slap at Navy/Air Force personnel who often must lead and inspire, as I did, and have, in the AF.