Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a sweeping reform strategy for Los Angeles public schools Wednesday, calling for top-to-bottom changes that would include ending the practice of promoting failing students, requiring school uniforms and bringing in outsiders to help transform schools.
The education blueprint — drawing heavily from reform ideas already underway in Los Angeles and elsewhere — amounts to Villaraigosa’s fall-back position if the courts rule against his efforts to gain a measure of control over the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In releasing the “Schoolhouse” policy framework [400K PDF] at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening, and supporting candidates in the March 6 school board elections, Villaraigosa is hedging his bets: He is seeking a prominent role in the school district through a friendly board majority that could promote his vision of more decentralized schools.
Related LA Times Editorial:
MAYOR ANTONIO Villaraigosa’s blueprint for the Los Angeles schools, unveiled Wednesday evening, contains a little something for everyone. There are some fine-but-small ideas (school uniforms), some big-but-redundant ones (more schools and family centers) and a few that are simply pie-in-the-sky (better-paid teachers, smaller class sizes and longer school hours). The problem with the mayor’s “schoolhouse” plan isn’t his vision — it’s his inability to carry it out.
The feel-good plan offers no thoughts on how the mayor, who currently has no authority over the schools, would bring its proposals to fruition. It provides only vague notions about how such proposals would be paid for, and it doesn’t refer to his legal battle to win partial control of the schools.
That battle isn’t going so well, with the mayor having suffered two losses in state court. So the blueprint is a kind of fall-back plan: If he can’t beat the school district, Villaraigosa will join it. After all, he can wield his considerable charisma to influence Schools Supt. David L. Brewer, and his equally considerable political power to support a sympathetic slate of school board candidates.