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June 23, 2006

Score One (more) For The Teacher's union

Villaraigosa is trumpeting his compromise plan to assert some, but not much more mayoral authority over the LA Unified School District. The LA Times, for its part, is unimpressed. If this is the best deal he could've got, "he would have been better off leaving Sacramento, declaring defeat and living to fight another day in L.A." Yowch. But they seem to have the goods:

Under the proposed bill, details of which are not yet public, the school board would be in charge of student achievement — or at least parts of it — while the mayor would control about three dozen poorly performing schools. Both would have a role in hiring the superintendent. Schools would be in charge of their curriculums. Instead of creating a clean line of accountability — the chief advantage of having a mayor run the schools — this deal divides responsibility so confusingly that even the main players would have trouble figuring out who's in charge of what.

Curriculums are set at the local level, the superintendent carries out the board's wishes but can be fired by the mayor, and the main contract (with the teacher's union) is negotiated by the board. Most schools are under the control of the board, but a handful of failing institutions will be run by the mayor. I'm a wonk and I'm confused. This strikes me as a clear case of Villaraigosa feeling the pressure to deliver on a campaign promise and preferring to return with bad policy that's nevertheless an "accomplishment" than empty hands. Not good.

Also in Villaraigosa news, the hyper-popular mayor has refused to endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. Angelides, who needs the teacher's union, has been tepid on LAUSD reform, and the two have never been great friends anyway. More upsetting, Villaraigosa is a widely-acknowledged candidate for governor in 2012, and an Angelides loss, when added to his tight working relationship with Schwarzenegger, clears his way. It's impossible to say which consideration killed the endorsement, but it's a real blow to the CA Democratic party and a truly churlish move on Villaraigosa's part.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink


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This is why I sometimes think that health care is an easier place to make improvements than education. It's so incredibly complicated, there are a huge number of players, everyone fights very hard, and the education of your children is maybe the one thing you might fight harder for than money.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jun 23, 2006 12:20:37 PM

Isn't it easier for the Teacher's Union to endorse Angelides if they don't have to agree with Villarraigosa? Neither the LAUSD Union or Angelides seem to be too hot on major reform, so why shouldn't they get along?

Posted by: Valkor | Jun 23, 2006 1:17:25 PM

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