School & District Management

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

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 30, 2006 2 min read

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
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
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
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

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 From Our Research Center How the Pandemic Is Shaping K-12 Education (in Charts)
Surveys by the EdWeek Research Center show how schools have changed during the pandemic and what adjustments are likely to stick.
Eric DiVito gives breathing instructions as he teaches a remote music class at the Osborn School on Oct. 6, 2020, in Rye, N.Y.
Eric DiVito gives breathing instructions as he teaches a remote music class at the Osborn School in Rye, N.Y., last fall.
Mary Altaffer/AP
School & District Management 'You Can’t Follow CDC Guidelines': What Schools Really Look Like During COVID-19
All year, some teachers have said that enforcing precautions to slow the spread of the virus in classrooms can be nearly impossible.
13 min read
Guntown Middle School eighth graders walk the halls to their next class as others wait in their assigned spots against the wall before moving into their next class during the first day back to school for the Lee County District in Guntown, Miss on Aug. 6, 2020.
Eight graders walk the halls on the first day back to school in Guntown, Miss., on Aug. 6, 2020. Teachers in several states told Education Week that since the beginning of the school year, enforcing precautions such as social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus has been nearly impossible.<br/>
Adam Robison/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP
School & District Management Opinion School Reopening Requires More Than Just Following the Science
Educators can only “follow the science” so far. Professional expertise matters too, writes Susan Moore Johnson.
Susan Moore Johnson
5 min read
Illustration of school and bus
Getty
School & District Management Why Teacher Vaccinations Are So Hard to Track
Teachers can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s no way of knowing how many are currently inoculated against the virus.
6 min read
Image of a needle and vaccine bottle.
iStock/Getty