School & District Management

Activists Slam Mayoral Control

By Lesli A. Maxwell — June 20, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In the mounting fight over who should run the sprawling Los Angeles Unified School District, parents from other big cities are joining the fray.

Hundreds of parent activists from New York City and Chicago have signed and are circulating an open letter to Los Angeles parents, urging them to reject Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bid to take control of the 727,000-student district.

Mayoral control, they argue, has not delivered greater accountability and transparency in New York and Chicago. Even more troubling, they say, is that Los Angeles parents who feel disenfranchised now by the district’s bureaucracy and elected school board will be shut off entirely from the decisionmaking process if the mayor is in charge.

“The mayors of our cities and their appointees now feel empowered to ignore the priorities of parents, teachers, and other stakeholders in the system,” says the letter, which is dated June 1.

Leonie Haimson, a New York parent activist and the founder of Class Size Matters, wrote the letter with Julie Woestehoff, who heads Parents United for Responsible Education, an advocacy group in the 424,000-student Chicago district.

“We are the three largest districts in the country and share many of the same issues,” Ms. Haimson said in an interview. “Both New York and Chicago have a lot of lessons learned to share with Los Angeles about mayoral control, and the big one is that the mayor gets more power while leaving the public at large with little ability to give any input.”

A prime example, said Ms. Haimson: the cell phone ban in the 1.1 million-student New York district. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has refused to lift a controversial ban on such phones in schools, despite pleas from parents and rallies by members of the public urging him to do so.

Mr. Villaraigosa, a Democrat, is staking his first term as mayor on his plan to run the giant school system that educates children who live in Los Angeles and 26 other cities. He has proposed that he and a “council of mayors” be given authority to hire and fire the superintendent, control the budget, and adopt curricula. (“L.A. Mayor Seeks Role in District,” April 26, 2006.)

The mayor has been campaigning for his plan at the state Capitol in Sacramento, where lawmakers could vote on the matter later this summer.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Where Is K-12 Enrollment Headed? Population Trends, by the Numbers
America's public schools will have fewer students in the coming years, but population changes vary widely by state.
1 min read
Illustration of people icon.
E+
School & District Management How to Have a Hard Conversations With Your Teachers: 3 Tips for Principals
Here are three small steps that can ease the pain of a difficult conversation between a principal and teacher.
3 min read
Photo of two women having discussion.
E+
School & District Management How Have School Leaders Responded to the Trump Shooting?
When a tragic national incident happens in the middle of the summer, do school officials feel compelled to respond?
4 min read
A crowd waits for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump to speak at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., on Saturday, July 13, 2024.
A crowd waits for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump to speak at the campaign event in Butler, Pa., on July 13, 2024, before a shooting took place.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
School & District Management What Do Superintendents Do in the Summer?
In their own words, superintendents describe what keeps them busy while students are on break.
4 min read
Photo of woman working at office desk.
E+