OTHER CITIES VASSALS IN L.A. SCHOOL PLAN.
LOS Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's goal in assuming more control over the LAUSD is laudable. Education is among our most important goals, and we can all agree that we want more for our children from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
And it's only fair: The city of Los Angeles and its mayor should have more control over the education of Los Angeles' children if that is what the people of Los Angeles want for their city.
Unfortunately, the proposal now being debated in Sacramento -- Assembly Bill 1381 -- will make the residents and children of 26 independent cities little more than vassals of the city of Los Angeles. The current and future mayors of L.A. will have extraordinary powers over the LAUSD, while the elected officials in other cities will have none.
Should Villaraigosa's plan come to pass, voters in the city of Los Angeles will be able to express their support or opposition to the mayor's educational management at every election. But Assembly Bill 1381 relegates the children, parents and voters of the 26 other cities that make up the LAUSD to second-class status, with only indirect and less accountable representation.
Under the bill's current terms, representatives of the other 26 cities would sit on a ``council of mayors.'' That's little more than a token advisory committee for those LAUSD communities outside L.A. city limits. They would be a permanent minority, subject to the will of the mayor of Los Angeles, who would wield 80 percent of the vote on the council in every decision.
There are many who believe that reform of the LAUSD would be more effective and practical if the city of Los Angeles was able to determine its own educational destiny, unencumbered by the other 26 cities. Reform of the LAUSD (which is more accurately described as a metropolitan district) is extremely complex as a result of its service to more than two dozen independent cities, each with its own mayor and city council.
The Legislature should amend AB 1381 to consider other options, such as adopting the ``contract model'' for educational services, allowing the smaller cities to contract with the LAUSD, in the same manner that 41 cities in Los Angeles County currently contract with the Sheriff's Department for police services.
The best option would be to allow the city of Los Angeles to secede from the LAUSD, or allow the 26 other cities to secede and join other districts, create their own districts, or form a Joint Powers Authority. If Los Angeles were to break away from the 26 cities, it would be free to pursue its own educational reforms without unfairly impacting other communities.
Providing equitable representation and service for the children, parents, voters and taxpayers of the 26 independent cities is virtually impossible under Villaraigosa's proposed model. Our communities would become subordinate to the priorities of another city in which our residents have no voice.
While we applaud Mayor Villaraigosa for his passion for education, the mayor of Los Angeles should not be permitted to dictate reform to the exclusion of the other cities in the district.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jul 20, 2006|
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