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What the Spork? Jamie Oliver & the LAUSD Make Nice on Late Night TV

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In a low-profile attempt at armistice, newly appointed Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy joined food revolutionary Jamie Oliver on Jimmy Kimmel's show last night. Before the show even aired, the local "Revolution"-aries were cheering the end of flavored milk in L.A.'s public schools. However, that's not a done deal, and we're still wondering what's up with this sudden change of heart from the new head of the nation's second largest school district.

Perhaps the 2,100 or so letters from parents, teachers, and students urging better school food as a part of the "Food Revolution"'s campaign compelled the new district head. Perhaps Deasy felt human emotion and responded to parent appeals like: "My children WOULD eat and would LOVE nutritious food and so would their friends. This is the most important thing we could teach them." Perhaps Deasy was humbled by the work of his horde of teacher grunts and responded to this particularly committed teacher's letter:

“I am a LAUSD 13 year veteran teacher, coach, and future administrator. I need you to see first hand what our students face everyday at our site. Can we do better? On behalf of children, it becomes our mandate! Teaching children how to grow their food, prepare their food, and share it becomes a fundamental life skill that belongs in the classroom, but will only happen when you, the superintendent and board, make it so.”
-Thomas Bangert, Westside Global Awareness Magnet School

Or, perhaps having Whoopi Goldberg call out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa over the airwaves of the girl kvetch fest "The View" inspired a new approach at LAUSD HQ. "Antonio Villaraigosa, you are the mayor. YOU are the mayor. I'm putting this on you. Because those kids need [Oliver] in there. I'm just sayin'." Well, when Whoopi is "just sayin''' to 40 million viewers you know it's getting serious. Even arch-conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck is sounding the hero-activist on the issue as she cites "80% obesity rates" and "political rungs" and "they don't want them to see what's going on in there." Upton Sinclair is suddenly haunting "The View," who knew.
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Obviously Deasy has decided that a knife--no,spork--fight with the likes of Goldberg, Hasselbeck, and Kimmel are probably not wise for a school administrator with an ambitious privatization agenda funded by Gates Foundation on his hands. While it's well known that Villaraigosa and outgoing Sup. Ramon Cortines hadn't spoken for a year, it seems that Villaraigosa and Deasy may be on better terms--the Gates Foundation just loaned out one of its own, the aptly named Colleen Oliver, to the Mayor's Partnership for LA Schools as the new Chief Curriculum Officer. They seem to have work to do.

While on the Kimmel show (notice how "Food Revolution," "The View," and Kimmel are all on ABC?) Deasy did publicly commit to going to the board with the proposal to eliminate sugar-added, flavored milk in July, other details of what is going on at the LAUSD remain less apparent.

Even though we are still not a media outlet recognized by the LAUSD, but keep getting thrice daily press updates (and their tedious revisions), we have a few questions about the new detente between Oliver and LAUSD:

- Will Oliver film the remaining two episodes not in the can on LAUSD premises? On his terms?
- When will Mayor Villaraigosa show up for the first school lunch photo op served by Oliver?
- Is the head of LAUSD Food Services, the perpetrator of pink milk and food from an injection pump, opening a certified termination letter?
- Does Tyson still hold a $80 million contract with LAUSD in spite of being in direct conflict with district vendor ethics guidelines?
- Does the district have a plan for closing in on the $90 million in untapped federal reimbursement for school lunches and breakfasts?
- How will LAUSD Press Officers spin the district's new leadership? Or will the nation's 2nd largest school district be contrite and admit its errors? (Deasy's new communication manager Tom Waldman raises our hopes).
- Will LAUSD take a page from Michelle Rhee and adopt innovative, sustainability-minded and cost-effective programs like Washington DC's DC Central Kitchen where local, organic produce is served from scratch kitchens daily to 3,500 inner-city school children?
- Will the district finally allow school-garden grown produce to be served in cafeteria following the leadership of neighboring Ventura and Riverside Schools.
- What happens to all those now unemployed pink cows?

LAist Editor Lindsay William-Ross contributed to this story.