Council pushes for immediate LAUSD reform

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 The panel’s report – with recommendations scheduled to be submitted in June – came as Villaraigosa completed a two-day trip to New York City where he visited an inner-city school to learn about changes since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took over the New York school system. “More than ever before, the mayor is convinced that you need strong accountability if you are going to make changes to the Los Angeles school system,” spokeswoman Janelle Erickson said. Among his stops Tuesday, the mayor visited with leaders of a nonprofit corporation that has worked to recruit and keep some of its best teachers and administrators. Erickson said Villaraigosa hopes to see a similar program developed in Los Angeles. But Padilla cautioned Tuesday that most polls show voters are wary of mayoral control. “People might like this mayor and agree to give him this power, but what if it were a Mayor (James) Hahn or a Mayor (Richard) Riordan? We have to look at all aspects of this and how we can improve the schools,” Padilla said. The council also was cautioned that any change at the district also will need the approval of the 27 other cities that send their children to LAUSD schools. Villaraigosa is scheduled to meet with officials from those cities this week to discuss his plans. The only details the mayor has provided so far is that he would like the authority to appoint a superintendent of schools with an elected school board having limited power. Huizar, who served on the school board for more than four years, said change is being demanded. “I know there needs to be some drastic changes there to create an environment to develop better policy,” he said. “That’s what this is about. If you don’t have a governance structure that allows for good people to make the best decisions, then we have done nothing. “There is no accountability at the board the way it operates at this time.” David Cunningham, one of the co-chairs of the panel, said many of the district’s current problems are rooted in how it was set up in the 1920s. “This is a system long overdue for change,” Cunningham said. “Just as you wouldn’t drive a Model T on today’s freeways, the school district needs to be improved.” One of the biggest problems, Councilman Tony Cardenas said, is state law that prohibits paying school board members more than $24,000 a year, forcing them to be part-time officials while representing districts with 650,000 people. Councilman Bernard Parks said his concerns go beyond the education system to the greater implications for the city and society. “In my district, there is not one school that is above the state average in test scores,” Parks said. “I have one high school that is on probation. And all the studies show there is a direct link between illiteracy and crime. Sixty percent of those in state prison are illiterate. “We will not succeed until we see more students graduate. Whether it’s 25 percent or 50 percent, we have a problem – a problem we cannot ignore.” Maria Casillas, a former LAUSD administrator who served as co-chair of the panel, said she believes a lot can be done – such as decentralizing the district – without legislative changes. “There are a lot of politics around this issue of governance,” Casillas said. “Some see the glass as half full. But for our families, it is a story of misery and pain if they do not get an education.” Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Even as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushes for mayoral control of Los Angeles’ public schools, the City Council called Tuesday for immediate reform of how the system operates rather than risk delays. The call came as the council received a report from the Presidents’ Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance that said reform of the nation’s second-largest school district cannot rest solely on whether the mayor takes over. “Let’s not confuse mayoral control with intelligent control,” said Councilman Alex Padilla, who created the commission with fellow Councilman Jose Huizar when he was president of the Board of Education. “One of the frustrations of this process has been that the issue of education reform seems to have been captured through the lens of mayoral reform. But that is subject to a vote, and the people will say either yes or no. We need to look at what we can do to make changes if mayoral control is rejected.” last_img

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