An open letter to Dr. Deasy

An open letter to Dr. John Deasy

March 3, 2012

Dear Dr. Deasy:

It will not surprise you to know that you are hated by many teachers and administrators in LAUSD.  But even though I myself am an ESL teacher in LAUSD’s Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) – which you propose to eliminate entirely, a purpose I have been working to defeat – I do not write this letter to you in hatred.  In fact, I have spent the early hours of this morning in meditation, and in the clarity that comes when the spirit of love and peace touches the heart, I now write to recommend to you a far greater power than the LAUSD Board of Education, and greater still than Eli Broad and all his millions.  I am recommending the greatest power known by humankind:  the power of love, in particular love for people, all the people.  That kind of love can save you and your career, if only you will let it touch your heart.  Because adult and career education offers hope to all the people of Los Angeles, and your efforts to take it away have already aroused powerful passions county-wide and beyond.

The best-seller Chicken Soup for the Soul starts with a wonderful story about a teacher who had an unusually high number of students that were very successful.  When asked her secret in teaching those students, she answered, “I loved them all.”

You, as superintendent, cannot direct or require that LAUSD’s teachers love all their students, but you yourself can model a more loving attitude towards all, and towards the communities of Los Angeles in particular, by not closing the adult and career education program.  Having taught ESL in Los Angeles for more than twenty-five years, I will tell you without exaggeration that the closing of DACE would create a tsunami of chagrin.  It would be a disaster for the 300,000+ students and employees of DACE, for the dozens of large communities and countless tens of thousands of families served by DACE, and for local businesses who need trained workers.  As you saw on February 14, support for LAUSD’s adult ed programs runs wide and deep.  You have made a terrible miscalculation in trying to dismantle it.

As you have apparently not figured out yet, Los Angeles is patchwork of immigrant communities that desperately need English communication skills offered by DACE’s ESL classes.  Immigrants also need the matrices of social support and networking offered by community adult schools and occupational centers that help them cope with culture shock here in their new country.  Career training classes offered by DACE give hundreds of thousands their only hope for a better future, and their children’s only hope to have successful parents. 

Many students of mine have told me that closing LAUSD’s adult classes would result in more children joining gangs, higher crime rates, and a repeat of the civil unrest we saw here in 1992.  That might not immediately affect you at 333 S. Beaudry, many floors above it all with a multi-million-dollar security system and armed school police and security guards between you and the huddled masses.  But for those of us who live and work down here on the streets, it would be very, very unpleasant.

Please, do not drown DACE – this island of hope – in a tsunami of chagrin.  Please, have a heart, and find a way to save adult and career education, because deep down inside, I know that you are a fellow human being, and in your own way, I am sure that you care about the people of Los Angeles.

On the other hand, if  (as many suspect) you really don’t care about all us little people, think about your career and find a way to save DACE, because not doing so will enrage a great multitude of voters against your sponsors — the Broad-financed school board members and the mayor — and you will soon find yourself without a job.


John Mears


About John Mears

I teach English, take photographs, play guitar, write, do yoga, meditate, hike, play computer games, and love (and try to serve) humanity. If anything here touches you, let me know! Leave a comment! Subscribe! Enjoy! If you like the photos, you might like the greeting cards we will be selling soon!
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5 Responses to An open letter to Dr. Deasy

  1. Alcides Tobar says:

    John,this very touching! Send it in, you never know the what impact this will have in his heart. 1993? if you are referencing the riots i think it was 1992.

  2. artsoldierouthouse says:

    Noam Chomsky and Buddha would be proud. And honestly, I have felt pity for Mr. Deasy , who is no doubt under great pressure and over his head in this mess. I find myself frequently defending him because he did not make this mess. He hasn’t been commissioned to clean it up either. There is this photo of him in a press conference looking beleaguered and full of dread. I cannot hate him because he is so very human. I know he isn’t remotely aware of how brutal the sharks are in the LAUSD tank. Look what they did to Brewer! I actually saw some order and vision from his tenure, which is why the little mouse Cortines cut him down, most likely at Broad or Gates request. gates was actively involved around then and whenever there is talk of breaking the district down or deleting the superfluous local districts, it rankles the pencil pushers . They look all beige and benign but woah …I know Deasy has alluded to restructuring the district, which Lydia Seigel explains is the reason for our dysfunction in her comprehensive book Battling Corruption in America’s Public Schools.
    I keep hoping Deasy will resist the pull of haters and defer to love. If he spent some time with my students he’d know exactly what you’re talking about.

    • John Mears says:

      There is potential good in every person and every situation. I try to find that good. However there is also a primal survival thing going on here with me, and sometimes that primal survival thing is what saves us. Sometimes it can be our worst enemy, I know, when it turns into fear or nastiness. What I am trying to focus on is the positives here. We make what we want out of everything — I want to turn this into a teachable moment for many who do not understand or appreciate what we do in adult & career ed, and why it is so vital, especially in L.A.

  3. artsoldierouthouse says:

    Hey where’s your fb link? We want to share this.

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