LAUSD is All About Image

LAUSD.jpg Hmm, this strikes me as a tad backward. The Los Angeles Unified School District has apparently hired image consultants and a PR firm to handle some recent negative publicity. Way to use the ol’ taxpayer money:

The recent hirings come in addition to a six-person communications staff with a nearly $1.4 million budget, an overall $10 million communications budget, and a separate consulting contract with Darry Sragow, who helps LAUSD develop communications strategies and policy issues.

One of the district’s recent hires is Victor Abalos, a communications consultant for Superintendent David Brewer III who has been signed to a one-year, $178,000 contract to develop communication strategies including restructuring LAUSD’s communications department.

LAUSD also has hired consultant Michael Bustamante under a six-month, $90,000 contract to deal with communications strictly related to the district’s electronic payroll system.

Here’s an even better way to change your image, and it probably won’t cost you as much moolah: figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then fix it. United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy is inclined to agree with me.

“Don’t spend $10 million for spin doctors to weave their webs that try to show the world that they’re really good guys. Actually do it right.”

9 thoughts on “LAUSD is All About Image”

  1. The LAUSD lacks a local history curriculum. When the Militant attended an unspecified LAUSD high school many years ago and took a history class, he learned more about the history of Boston, MA than the history of his own city (which he learned outside of the confining walls of the classroom under his own volition). WTF?!?!

  2. Here’s an even better way to change your image, and it probably won’t cost you as much moolah: figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then fix it.

    Seconded, heartily.

  3. Damn that is a lot of money when the district is hurting for basic teaching supplies for the teachers.

    I agree figure out whats wrong and fix it. That’s a hell of a lot of money to just to watch them try to pat themselves on the back.

  4. Business as usual. Hey, we can just float ANOTHER bond when we waste all the money we’ve collected this year.

  5. As an LAUSD teacher who has spent the last two paydays downtown trying to get paid, this is an especially astonishing slap in the face. Here’s the message I sent to the LAUSD Board last time, and I’m sad to say I’ll probably be sending some more missives on December 5th (our next pay day…)
    Dear Board Members:

    As a teacher at Roosevelt High School for the past seven years (and as a substitute for five years before that), I have never been ashamed of my career until October 5th, 2007, when I was not paid. That feeling was doubled today when, once again, I received no payment for the work I’d done on behalf of my students.

    I feel it is incumbent upon the Board to look into the money that’s been spent on the payroll system. The newest figures — that a consultant is being paid $25,000 per week (with an assistant making $18,000) to “fix” the problem — is truly disturbing and disquieting. I’ve managed to pick up some powerful connections in the great network that is Los Angeles media and politics in the last twenty years and trust me when I say that all of them will be receiving this and many more details about how corrupt the system is.

    A forensic accountant needs to be brought in to track the $95 million that has been wasted on the BTS program. Who’s receiving kickbacks? Who’s getting rich on the backs of students and teachers? How could the District pay for a system with such a shoddy track record? Follow the money!

    Trust me when I say that anything we can do to distance ourselves from the Superintendent’s lack of leadership on this issue (not to mention his ignorance about education reform — just look at the poorly written “Intended Curriculum” he’s pushing and the “Loser District” he’s proposing (just wait for the lawsuit on that one!) — is making it very plain to the teachers at Roosevelt that we want to go with the Office of Innovation’s Partnership for Los Angeles program. We know we’ll still be getting paid by the district, but at least we’ll be one step further from an organization which cannot even pay its employees properly and will have aligned ourselves with a program that offers some authentic reform to a system that is broken. It’d be nice not to be ashamed of my employer anymore.

    The irony is that I was using my off-track time to complete letters of recommendation for several students when I received the news I had not been paid. Perhaps I should consider applying for a scholarship for teachers who don’t get paid.

    Trust me, too, when I say that all the graduates I stay in touch with via email — at Brown University (three of them on full scholarships) Berkeley (6 accepted last year) UCLA (5 last year) and all the other schools which they now attend — know about the shoddy practices of their former district. Many of them plan on returning to Los Angeles when they complete their studies and are set on getting involved in politics and reform of broken systems like LAUSD, so maybe the future is not so bleak after all.


    Brendan Schallert

  6. Don’t complain about the money being used on the PR people. The LAUSD will not pay them for a year, send them a check for $500 and then harrass them for the money back because it was overpaid.

    @Brendan…Good luck with getting paid. My neighbor teaches at Roosevelt too, I wondered (but won’t nose around) if he was having pay problems too. Many of my friends who teach in LA, left LAUSD in the past few years, so I don’t know many people personally affected by this. I do know that they spent a lot of personal money on their classes, so I can only guess at what a crimp that would put in a person’s budget if they had to continue doing that. I work for my husband and we have a clients who haven’t paid us for work done last year. In fact, we’re dirt poor because clients have decided that paying us for work done in March isn’t a priority. I definitely feel what you’re going through.

  7. Until I return to Beaudry on December 5th (why should I expect anything different) I have a few suggestions about how to better spend the $90,000 Brewer is paying Mr. Bustamante:

    1. Pay me $90,000 and I’ll shut up for six months.
    2. Pay me $90,000, give me a calculator and I’ll make sure everybody gets paid properly in six months.
    3. Trash the new system and go back to the old (which worked perfectly) and use the $90,000 to hire another bureaucrat who can spend $95 million on something else that doesn’t work.
    4. Give UTLA the $90,000 and they can buy another Winnebago from which to hand out donuts to teachers who don’t get paid.

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