MAYOR'S SCHOOL-TAKEOVER STRATEGY IGNITES FIRESTORM.Byline: NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN and RICK ORLOV Staff Writers
A draft outline of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's takeover strategy for the Los Angeles Unified School District The Los Angeles Unified School District (the "LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California and the second-largest in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. touched off a political firestorm fire·storm
1. A fire of great size and intensity that generates and is fed by strong inrushing winds from all sides: the firestorm that leveled Hiroshima after the atomic blast.
2. Thursday, with educators and analysts saying it lacks substance and could plunge the 727,000-student system into chaos.
The 43-page plan - dated April 2 and circulated among business and community leaders in recent days - lays out a massive restructuring that would break the 700-square-mile LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) into 80 mini-districts, limit schools to 500 students each and decentralize de·cen·tral·ize
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities. the downtown bureaucracy.
It also would demand accountability from the mayor, superintendent, parents and students, and it would extend the school day to 5 p.m. to make time for enrichment classes.
Villaraigosa distanced himself from the plan, saying the draft is not an official proposal but simply a series of suggestions on how the district could be changed.
"What we did was send out some ideas to a variety of stakeholders Stakeholders
All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government. we've involved in the discussions," Villaraigosa said. "These are things we are putting on the table.
"Should we have Saturday classes? Should schools stay open later? Should we have a longer school year?
"These are all things to study."
Still, as details of "Taking Back Our Schools" surfaced, educators blasted it as an unrealistic hodgepodge hodge·podge
A mixture of dissimilar ingredients; a jumble.
[Alteration of Middle English hochepot, from Old French, stew; see hotchpot. of ideas with no cost estimates and few details on how they would be implemented.
"It's a Macedonian salad of ideas that we've seen over the last 15 years," said LAUSD board member David Tokofsky.
"To affect students' lives, ideas have to be more refined and prioritized. I think it's noble that they're collecting all of these ideas. But it will be the superintendent and board in open, public meetings, rather than (in a) back room, privately financed, ... that will assess costs, scarcity of resources and what matters most for students.
"(Villaraigosa) is right that the status quo [Latin, The existing state of things at any given date.] Status quo ante bellum means the state of things before the war. The status quo to be preserved by a preliminary injunction is the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. is not acceptable. But he's not right to declare war."
The mayor bristled bris·tle
1. A stiff hair.
2. A stiff hairlike structure: the bristles of a wire brush.
v. bris·tled, bris·tling, bris·tles
v.intr. at criticism that his ambitious reform effort includes no clear plan of action.
"Where are their ideas? They have nothing new to present," Villaraigosa said. "I am trying to think out of the box and look at what is needed in the schools."
District officials - smarting from being left out of discussions - scrambled to get their hands on copies of the draft. Many said that if the mayor had included them in the process, he'd know that some of the ideas would be impossible to implement.
Superintendent Roy Romer Roy R. Romer (born October 31, 1928 in Garden City, Kansas, United States) was the 39th governor of Colorado and served as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2001 to 2006. , who complained that he and Villaraigosa had not had a serious conversation about reform for months, said he believed lack of understanding of the district's operation is displayed in the draft.
He cited the suggestion of selling the district's downtown headquarters and eliminating all but 100 administrative workers.
"Sure, you could sell it, make $50 million - but where do you perform the work that needs to be done in a district with 60,000 employees and more than 700,000 students?" Romer
A Romer or Roamer is a simple device for accurately plotting a grid reference on a map. said.
"We have our computer system down here, our payroll, our bus system. If we sell this building, where do we put those operations?
"My concern - and that's why I've asked to meet with the mayor to discuss this - is that this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what we do here. ... We are open to ideas, but we can't lose sight of what our primary goal is in educating these youngsters."
Portions of the plan also sparked a flurry of activity among different groups jockeying to sway public opinion before the mayor's State of the City speech Tuesday, when the school proposal is to be presented.
The district's parent-teacher associations parent-teacher association
an organization consisting of the parents and teachers of school pupils formed to organize activities on behalf of the school , also outraged at not being consulted, scheduled a news conference for today to explain their vision.
"What I see of that is a combination of interesting and fuzzy thinking, but I don't see any parent input, and I know there hasn't been any parent input," said Scott Folsom, president of the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. 10th District Parent-Teacher-Student Association.
District PTSAs and PTAs represent tens of thousands of parents.
"We needed to have been at that table, so we're reaching out to him because we need to have that conversation," Folsom said.
Meanwhile, Sen. George Runner George C. Runner, Jr. (born March 25 1952 in Scotia, New York) is a Republican California State Senator, who represents the 17th Senate District, which includes portions of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County. , R-Antelope Valley, and Assemblyman as·sem·bly·man
A man who is a member of a legislative assembly.
pl -men a member of a legislative assembly
Noun 1. Keith Richman Dr. Keith S. Richman is a California, United States, Republican politician. From 2001 to 2007, he served in the California State Assembly representing the 38th Assembly District based in Northwest Los Angeles County. , R-Northridge, scheduled a Monday morning press conference to discuss their legislation to break up the sprawling LAUSD.
United Teachers Los Angeles had hoped to pre-empt pre·empt or pre-empt
v. pre·empt·ed, pre·empt·ing, pre·empts
1. To appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. See Synonyms at appropriate.
a. the mayor's State of the City speech and had already planned a Monday press conference on its own reform plan.
"We constantly talked about and pushed for collaboration," UTLA UTLA United Teachers of Los Angeles (California) President A.J. Duffy said. "It's unfortunate that we have not gotten it, but we are going to continue to push for collaboration."
District officials - many of whom had not yet seen the draft plan - accused the mayor of working in secret on a reform proposal.
"I feel that this approach that's being used is very cloak-and-dagger, very secretive," board President Marlene Canter canter
a gallop at an easy pace. The rhythm is three-time, first one hind, then the opposite hind with the diagonal fore, then the opposite fore, the leading limb.
collected canter said. "I don't like to have these conversations on important issues via the press. That's not the way to work together.
"This is about politics, not about kids. It's about a power grab, not about collaboration."
In a letter to the mayor, board member Marguerite LaMotte accused Villaraigosa of treating district officials as adversaries.
"The constituents of this community are now fully aware of the takeover plan and the motives which drive this plan," she wrote.
"Community members are also aware that the plan has little to do with what's in the best interest of children. It's all about the control of billions of dollars."
TAKING BACK OUR SCHOOLS
The draft plan for reforming Los Angeles Unified cites dozens of recommendations, including:
Legislation would be approved this summer, an election would be held in May 2007, and a change in governance would occur by July 1, 2007.
The LAUSD board would be reconstituted as an Assembly.
The mayor would appoint a district chief executive. Other management would include a chief instructional officer and a chief facilities executive.
Four general managers would each oversee 15-20 local superintendents who, in turn, would each supervise adistrict with 8,000 to 10,000 students in 10 to 20 schools.
Many schools would be given new leadership teams, new designs and possibly new names.
A tax increase would be likely. "Los Angeles taxpayers have proven that they are willing to tax themselves if they believe that the money will be well spent."
A Los Angeles Educational Fund would have a target of $200 million for its first five years and work to find grants and other new funding sources.
LAUSD would be "rebranded," possibly with "Los Angeles Department of Education, Youth and Families" as the new name.
Student uniforms would be required.
Mandatory curriculum would be developed for kindergarten through 12th grade and include arts, music, physical education, foreign languages and career education.
The school day could be expanded to 5 p.m. and include enrichment activities.
Move toward a 10 1/2-month school year.
Limit a school to 500 students at most, doubling the number of schools to 1,480.
Add more charter schools and raise $50 million to establish additional seats.
Require parents to sign contracts describing parent and school responsibilities.
Schools would develop and manage their own site-based budgets.
Develop a "career ladder The Career ladder is a metaphor or buzzword used to denote vertical job promotion. In business and human resources management, the ladder typically describes the progression from entry level positions to higher levels of pay, skill, responsibility, or authority. " for teachers.
Sell LAUSD's headquarters at 333 South Beaudry Ave. Relocate central staff to schools or district offices or downsize Downsize
Reducing the size of a company by eliminating workers and/or divisions within the company.
When a company downsizes, it is attempting to find ways to improve efficiency and increase profitability.
It is sometimes referred to as trimming the fat. .
Develop a new salary schedule for teachers with major pay raises based on movement into more challenging roles rather than on seniority and degrees earned.
TAKING BACK OUR SCHOOLS (see text)