Revolution in education

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“And, in raw relief, you can see the shortage of community policing that plagues every neighborhood in our city, from Watts to Woodland Hills, from Toluca Lake to Silver Lake.” But it was reform of the Los Angeles Unified School District that brought out Villaraigosa’s greatest passion and represented his boldest proposal. Speaking directly to teachers to join him in revolutionizing the schools, the mayor said he was devoted to changing the LAUSD to bring greater accountability into the system – from educators, parents and students. Toward that end, he wants to see the bureaucracy streamlined and the savings put into classrooms and teacher salaries. “Unless we face the crisis in our schools, we will never truly hold ourselves to account. We can’t be a great global city if we lose half of our work force before they graduate from high school. We’ll never realize the promise of our people if we choose to remain a city where 81 percent of middle-school students are trapped in failing schools. I believe we need to make our schools more accountable.” Students and parents need to be willing to take responsibility, including parent compacts on being involved with their children’s education, allowing school uniforms and increasing the number of charter schools in the city. Promising to confront the city’s problems and make each tax dollar count, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed on Tuesday a six-year experiment in school reform led by an education czar empowered to streamline the bureaucracy and oversee schools largely run by parents, teachers and principals. In his first State of the City address since being elected mayor last year, Villaraigosa told an audience of more than 300 people at the Accelerated School, a South Los Angeles charter, that he is committed to ending the city’s deficit spending while still hiring more police officers and dealing with the problems of traffic, homelessness, air pollution and more. Using the school site as an example of the problems and opportunities facing the city, Villaraigosa said L.A. needed to “accelerate our ambitions” and urged the public to “dream with him” of a green and growing city that was safe and afforded opportunity to all to prosper. “Here in South L.A, we have many of the residents of our city who work the hardest and earn the least,” Villaraigosa said. “It’s here in South L.A. that you see the most pervasive problems Angelenos face. Here, you can sense the frustration every commuter feels. Villaraigosa said it isn’t legally possible for him to take direct control of the LAUSD because so many other cities are part of the district. Instead, he will seek state legislation that would strip the school district of most of its authority except student discipline and parent advocacy. The legislation would then allow for the creation of a council of mayors that would pick a superintendent with extensive power over the budget, personnel and instruction programs. “I think Los Angeles should have the biggest say since we have 80 percent of the students in the district,” the mayor said in a meeting earlier Tuesday with Daily News editors and reporters. Aides to Villaraigosa said they did not believe that a vote by the public would be needed to institute the changes. The bill contains a 2013 sunset clause to require a review of how the new district was performing, based on test scores, attendance, dropout rates and other factors. The mayor’s plan drew criticism from LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, who is retiring this year, and others. Romer called the mayor’s plan “radical” and questioned whether it could win approval. He accused Villaraigosa of ignoring the success of the district’s school building program and achievements in raising test scores. “I work for a Board of Education and they don’t like it,” Romer said. “I don’t like it.” A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said he will continue to oppose mayoral control. “We’re working very hard to develop collaboration with the mayor,” Duffy said. “But, this is the one area where we disagree. One of our concerns with mayoral control is that the schools are a nearly $7 billion-a-year operation. What if the city decides it needs money for some emergency and decides to take it? There will be nothing we can do.” However, former Mayor Richard Riordan, who is past state secretary of education, praised the proposal. “I think it’s the kind of bold change we need,” Riordan said. “I wish I could have done something like this when I was mayor.” Rep. Dianne Watson, D-Los Angeles, a former school board member, said she supported part of the mayor’s plan, but believed there was room for a compromise with other proposals short of a full mayoral takeover. “I have to say he has courage,” Watson said. “And we all agree something needs to be done.” On purely city government issues, Villaraigosa again stressed his proposal to expand the Los Angeles Police Department by 1,000 officers over the next four years with a trash fee, starting at $7 more a month for residents on top of the $11 already charged. It is needed, he said, to stand up to the problem of crime and gangs. “We will not continue to be a great global city if we continue to hold the dubious distinction as the most underpoliced big city in America.” The mayor did not offer many details of his programs – many will be coming out Thursday with the release of his proposed budget – but he did say he planned to be fiscally conservative with future spending, working to overcome a $295 million structural deficit over the next five years. This is being done with $49 million in savings made since he took office and expectations of an additional $40 million in efficiency savings this year. Villaraigosa said he is creating a performance division within his office that will go over spending in each city agency to find savings. On transportation, the mayor said he plans to create a “gridlock tiger team” of traffic officers, who will be dispatched to traffic hot spots around the city on a daily basis to deal with areas where there is the most congestion. He also plans to increase the budget for street resurfacing and maintenance. Other city efforts will increase summer youth job programs, expanded library hours and after-school programs. “We can do all these things – put more cops on our streets, work to keep traffic moving, we can green our city, we can make new our commitment to deal humanely with the homeless,” Villaraigosa said. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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