MAYOR STRIKES DEAL FOR PARTIAL TAKEOVER OF LAUSD, BUT ... WILL IT HELP THE KIDS?
Byline: HARRISON SHEPPARD Sacramento Bureau
Abandoning a bid for full control of 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. public schools, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa (born Antonio (Tony) Ramon Villar, Jr. on January 23, 1953) is the mayor of Los Angeles, California. He is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since Cristobal Aguilar in 1872. cut a deal with the teachers unions Wednesday that would give him greater say but falls short of the reform he had sought for the nation's second-largest school district.
Struck after two days of intensive, closed-door negotiations at the Capitol, the proposed legislation strips the school board of much of its authority while expanding the superintendent's power.
At the same time, it gives Villaraigosa and mayors of other cities in 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. veto power over selecting a superintendent and direct authority over improving the lowest-performing schools. It also would give each school more control over its own curriculum and other campus issues.
``I said from the beginning this wasn't about mayoral control,'' Villaraigosa said. ``This was about accountability. This was about a partnership.''
But while full details of the plan remain unclear, it was immediately blasted by LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) board members and 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. . Some parent groups said the deal smacked of political wrangling that would just add bureaucracy, further diffuse accountability and have few benefits for the district's 727,000 students.
School board members and Romer
A Romer or Roamer is a simple device for accurately plotting a grid reference on a map. also criticized Villaraigosa for excluding them and the public from the talks and crafting the deal.
The plan is ``a lot of rhetoric,'' Romer said. ``I was quite surprised -- all of these people saying they were all for this when not one of them had it in writing before them. This bill is not yet written.''
But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ] immediately expressed support for the plan and said he would sign a bill sent to his desk. The plan does not call for a vote by Los Angeles residents.
Although Villaraigosa didn't get everything he wanted, striking a deal -- any deal -- was seen as a political victory for the mayor, who has closely linked his fortunes with improving the schools.
``It was important to him to get something in writing, not only in terms of his political career, but in terms of being able to come home without looking like he had been defeated,'' said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe of the University of Southern California The U.S. News & World Report ranked USC 27th among all universities in the United States in its 2008 ranking of "America's Best Colleges", also designating it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 8,634 of the almost 34,000 who applied for freshman admission .
His toughest negotiations were with the California Teachers Association The California Teachers Association (CTA), initially established in 1863 as the California Educational Society, is by far the largest teachers' union in the state of California. It is considered by many to be the most powerful union in California. and United Teachers Los Angeles.
The CTA An abbreviation for cum testamento annexo, Latin for "with the will annexed." is seen as one of the most powerful groups in Sacramento, frequently exercising its power with millions of dollars in campaign contributions and providing thousands of volunteers for campaigns.
Talks with those two groups stretched late into the night Tuesday, finally resulting in the compromise proposal that is expected to be authored Friday by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Gloria Romero Gloria J. Romero is currently the Democratic majority leader of the California State Senate and the first woman to ever hold this leadership position.
Romero grew up in Barstow, and earned her associate's degree from Barstow Community College. She went on to a B.A. , D-Los Angeles.
Ultimately, the final plan bore some similarities to a district-reform proposal put forward earlier this year by UTLA UTLA United Teachers of Los Angeles (California) .
``We were opposed to mayoral takeover, but we were always in favor of partnerships that involve the mayor, parents, teachers, community groups, business and industry and other critical partners inside and outside the district,'' the UTLA president, A.J. Duffy, said.
Villaraigosa's original plan called for creating a council of mayors that would take over most responsibilities from the school board and for increasing the superintendent's power.
The compromise proposal calls for creating two new organizations that would have limited power over parts of the district and share authority with the school board and superintendent.
One new organization, a council of mayors, would have veto power over the selection and contract terms of a superintendent. This council would also have input, but no vote, on the district budget.
It would include the mayors of all cities within the LAUSD, with greater weight given to Los Angeles because it makes up most of the district.
The other new organization would directly oversee the district's 36 lowest-performing schools. Called the mayor's community partnership for school excellence, it would include the mayor, teachers, parents, other community residents and a representative of the superintendent. It would take over the authority that the superintendent and school board now have over three clusters of the lowest-performing schools.
The proposal also calls for giving the superintendent greater control over day-to-day activities and decisions, with a slightly reduced role for the school board.
For example, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Villaraigosa's aides, the superintendent would no longer have to submit most service and consulting contracts valued at $25,000 or more to the school board for approval.
Collective-bargaining agreements with employee unions, however, would continue to go through the same approval process, involving the superintendent and school board.
The proposed legislation would sunset in six years, meaning the Legislature would have an option to renew it then or let the district revert back to its current structure.
The proposal has support from Democratic leaders in the Legislature, including Nunez; Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer Dario Frommer (born October 22, 1963 in Long Beach, California) was a member of the California State Assembly from 2000 until 2006. He served as Majority Leader from 2004 until 2006. Frommer also served as Chair of the Health Committee. , D-Glendale; and Senate President Pro Tem president pro tem
n. pl. presidents pro tem Informal
A president pro tempore. Don Perata Don Perata (born April 30, 1945) is a California Democratic politician, who is the current President pro tempore of the California State Senate. He was elected to the post of President Pro Tempore in 2004. , D-Oakland.
But the mayor and Nunez will now have to round up support of other legislators from both parties, and some have expressed skepticism about the plan as well as concern that the issue is being decided in Sacramento, not Los Angeles.
State 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-Lancaster, who supports breaking up the district, said the proposal adds more layers of management without increasing accountability.
He said he also prefers a solution with voter approval, because voters' children are attending the schools.
``This compromise leaves parents in my district with even less input and just adds more confusion as to who is ultimately accountable to them and their children,'' Runner said in a written statement.
``The proposed compromise doesn't just rearrange the deck chairs; it adds new deck chairs and then rearranges them, providing no real accountability.''
Scott Folsom, president of the Los Angeles 10th District Parent, Teacher, Student Association, said he was disappointed that parents didn't play a role in the negotiations.
And he believes the decision should be made by the people of Los Angeles, not state legislators.
``My real concern here is that this is a deal that was struck in Sacramento by union guys and city officials and legislators, without having any parents from the LAUSD ever involved in the discussion,'' Folsom said. ``No citizens, no taxpayers, no guys on the street.''
Staff Writers Naush Boghossian and Rick Orlov contributed to this report.
no caption (Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa)
Highlights of the LAUSD legislation