AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “This is not the Navy. He doesn’t get people to automatically salute.” While Brewer said he’ll continue to work with the union, he called it time to step away from business as usual if the district wants real reform. “We have a legal and moral imperative here. … Previous initiatives have failed because of a lack of commitment to sustain it and a lack of political will. Right now, if you want change, you have to be bold. You can’t half-step it.” But Brewer has been under attack by members of a key task force on the plan over concepts such as carving out a separate district of 44 low-performing schools. Under pressure, Brewer reduced the number of schools by 10 and scrapped the idea of putting the schools under separate governance. One San Fernando Valley school, Sylmar High, remains on the list. Brewer also emphasized that the plan is “evolving and fluid,” and he expects changes before its 2008-09 implementation. The plan includes a curriculum aligned with state standards, focused professional development, safe schools and performance accountability and incentives. Reassignment fight From December to January, the local district superintendent will examine each school’s staff and determine whether there needs to be a change in principals or teachers. But Duffy decried that plan. “Somebody needs to whisper into the superintendent’s ear that he can’t just reassign teachers. There’s a contract, and he better follow the rules,” he said. Still, Brewer said the state gives more latitude in reassigning teachers because the schools need corrective actions to improve student achievement. “Some of these schools are failing for a reason, based on the leadership going on,” Brewer said. “The bottom line is we reserve the right to go in and make the changes necessary.” Duffy said bringing scripted-program teaching to secondary schools will have a “devastating effect on comprehension and problem-solving for elementary schools kids who then go to middle school … and can read but don’t know what they’re reading.” And he said studies show merit pay does little to boost student achievement and creates unhealthy competition among teachers. Board member Julie Korenstein agreed, saying a better plan would give a bonus reward to an entire school if it improves. Brewer argues that performance pay will provide incentives to retain highly qualified teachers in areas of need. Korenstein said she’s also frustrated that Brewer has not created the plan with board input. “He tends to come up with a grandiose plan, then backs down because it doesn’t make sense,” Korenstein said, referring to Brewer’s original proposal to create a separate mini-district of low-performing schools. “You usually have seven board members and a superintendent who work together to develop policy. You don’t have a superintendent developing policy and shoving it down people’s throats. That’s how you get into trouble.” Board member Richard Vladovic said he hopes both sides come to an agreement. “There should be a dialogue and if he hasn’t reached out to the union, I’m concerned. If I feel there hasn’t been sufficient dialogue, I’m going to make sure that at least all sides are heard,” he said. Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton, said Brewer faces a key political test. “The union isn’t unbeatable, but I don’t know if you can do it on your own. It takes political strategy, some coalition building, consulting as much as you can and knowing where to draw the line,” he said. “This re-emphasizes the need of the superintendent to have a true political strategy that can give him the leverage he needs to get the reforms he wants.” Transforming schools Janelle Erickson, a spokeswoman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has tried to take a more active role in running the district, said the mayor will continue to work with everyone. “Only through partnership and collaboration will we truly transform our public schools,” Erickson said. And after a challenging year of dealing with the powerful teachers union, Sonenshein said the superintendent may be overreaching. “He has a lot of ground to make up, and the problem is you can’t make it up all at once, and it may be that what he’ll like to do is make a big, bold step that makes up a lot of ground,” he said. “But in reality, it’s a series of small steps he’s going to need to reground his superintendentship that is sustainable over a long period of time. “This may be a little bit of a long pass to recoup a lot of ground. If it can’t be backed up with political strength, it actually ends up being costly than helpful.” For the latest school news, go to www.insidesocal.com/education. [email protected] 818-713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Defying opposition from the teachers union, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III on Wednesday released a final plan to reform nearly three dozen schools that includes key elements vehemently decried by the union. Despite union-leadership opposition to proposals including reassignment of teachers, merit pay and scripted teaching at middle and high schools, Brewer kept all of the concepts in his final plan. The move sets up a critical showdown with the union, which now will target Los Angeles Unified School District board members, expected to vote on Brewer’s plan later this month. “He’s … declaring war. He’s got to get this by the board of education and we’re going to weigh into it very heavily,” A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said.