School & District Management

Calif. Lawmakers Grant L.A. Mayor Partial Control Over School System

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 30, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday won final approval from California lawmakers to take partial control over his city’s sprawling school system. The plan would give him considerable sway over the hiring of the superintendent, but falls short of the strong mayoral control in cities like New York City and Chicago.

Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, left, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, watch as the votes are posted on Nunez's measure, to give Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa greater control over the Los Angeles Unified School District, during the Assemby session held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006.

The quasi-takeover of the nation’s second-largest school district, packaged as state legislation that bypasses local voters, also would give the mayor direct authority over a cluster of low-performing schools. The mayor has relentlessly cited the district’s high school dropout rate—a figure he believes is as high as 50 percent—as a moral imperative to reform the 727,000-student district.

“Make no mistake, this is a milestone that comes but once in a generation,” Mayor Villaraigosa said in a written statement issued late on Aug. 29. “We have brought parents, teachers, and community leaders together around the idea that we can and must do better for our children.”

In a 42-20 vote, the state Assembly, the legislature’s lower house, backed the mayor’s reform plan. It now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he will sign the measure. The state Senate had approved the bill on Aug. 28, in a 23-14 vote.

Officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District, who battled to defeat the bill, will likely challenge the measure’s constitutionality—particularly the provision that gives the mayor direct control over three of the city’s worst high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed them.

‘Not a Failing District’

Superintendent Roy Romer, who is preparing to step down in September after six years, fought hard against the plan and used his last chance to plead with lawmakers on Aug. 29 to reject the mayor’s proposal.

Mr. Romer, who served three terms as Colorado governor before accepting the Los Angeles job in 2000, reminded lawmakers that test scores in the district had risen steadily during his tenure and that an historic, $19 billion construction program to build 150 new schools was being well managed.

“That’s not a failing district,” Mr. Romer told members of the Assembly’s education committee. “Why do you want to yank the rug out from under us now?”

Mayor Villaraigosa, a Democrat who has spent much of his first year in office campaigning for reform in his city’s schools, would share much of his authority with a council of mayors representing the 26 other cities that lie within the boundaries of the district. His plan empowers the superintendent to manage most of the contracting, budgeting, and hiring in the district, while keeping the elected school board responsible for collective bargaining, a concession the mayor offered to win support from teacher unions.

The mayor and his supporters scheduled a celebration of the bill’s victory in the legislature for Aug. 30 at a south Los Angeles charter high school.

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 Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
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
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
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
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

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 Opinion 3 Steps for Culturally Competent Education Outside the Classroom
It’s not just all on teachers; the front office staff has a role to play in making schools more equitable.
Allyson Taylor
5 min read
Workflow, Teamwork, Education concept. Team, people, colleagues in company, organization, administrative community. Corporate work, partnership and study.
Paper Trident/iStock
School & District Management Opinion Why Schools Struggle With Implementation. And How They Can Do Better
Improvement efforts often sputter when the rubber hits the road. But do they have to?
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management How Principals Use the Lunch Hour to Target Student Apathy
School leaders want to trigger the connection between good food, fun, and rewards.
5 min read
Lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Students share a laugh together during lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Courtesy of Lynn Jennissen
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
School & District Management Sponsor
Insights from the 15 Superintendents Shaping the Future
The 2023-2024 school year represents a critical inflection point for K-12 education in the United States. With the expiration of ESSER funds on the horizon and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into teaching and learning processes, educators and administrators face a unique set of challenges and opportunities.
Content provided by Paper
Headshots of 15 superintendents that Philip Cutler interviewed
Image provided by Paper