Mayor gets unanimous support

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Villaraigosa said he and his staff worked hard to get the 15 council members to back his efforts as part of an orchestrated campaign to develop momentum for the legislative committee hearings that will begin Monday. “Let me tell you, I have not worked this hard for something in a long time,” Villaraigosa said. “I haven’t worked this hard since the election.” Assembly Bill 1381 would give Villaraigosa greater control over the 727,000-student district – the second-largest in the nation – similar to the power of mayors in New York and Chicago. Under the measure, a council of mayors from Los Angeles and other cities that are part of LAUSD would have the power to hire a superintendent and give initial review to spending. The plan also would create a strong school superintendent position with an elected school board dealing almost exclusively with policy issues. Decrying the status quo while declaring the desperate need for school reform, the City Council voted unanimously Friday to support Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed legislation to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District. Buoyed by the strong show of support after hours of council debate, Villaraigosa said he is preparing for “hand-to-hand” combat next week, when lawmakers in Sacramento will decide whether to approve the bill. “I am very, very, very gratified by the council vote,” Villaraigosa said at a news conference after the meeting. “It was important to let the state know how important this issue is to us in Los Angeles. “But make no mistake, it will not be easy in Sacramento. I will be up there fighting all the way to get this through.” The measure has changed in recent weeks to reflect concerns over its constitutionality and whether the city would face any liability for the mayor’s actions. Other changes dealing with budget policies, public comment and involvement, and staffing are undergoing review, mayoral aides said. But school officials said the changes are unnecessary and could hamper progress that already has been made. School board President Marlene Canter, wearing a blue-and-white “I support reform” lapel button, said the district is not getting credit for the changes it has made to put students on the road to success. “We want to work with the city,” Canter said. “We don’t need legislation to form a partnership. And I do support reform. But I have not been part of this dialogue with the mayor. “I was elected six years ago. We had started to change and we are beginning to see the results of that. We are moving faster than any other part of the state of California. We are doing that because we have an education program that we refine every day. “This bill doesn’t address any of those education issues.” Canter said the problem with the school system is that generations of students were allowed to move ahead without being able to read. Once new instruction programs began, that started to change, she said. But city officials said the change is coming too slowly – and at too high a price. Councilman Ed Reyes, who represents some of the poorer areas of the city, held up a map showing that the highest crime rates are around schools in his district. “Something has got to be done,” Reyes said. “We cannot allow this to continue.” Other council members revived years of complaints over the LAUSD and its refusal to work with them or the city on a variety of programs – from the initial creation of the LA’s BEST after-school program to current efforts involving the joint use of land or school siting. Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said her San Fernando Valley district has seen private schools flourish because of parents’ belief that the LAUSD fails to provide a quality education. “The status quo is not acceptable,” Greuel said. “Is this a cure-all? No. But something needs to be done and it needs to be done soon.” Councilman Alex Padilla, who pushed to include amendments to ensure board members would be able to hire their own staffs, said he was supporting the measure because of his belief the City Council should play a role in education. “We all recognize there is a lot of good going on in the district, but there is so much that needs to be done that it is time to look at a change,” Padilla said. Councilman Jose Huizar, who was an LAUSD board member before being elected to the City Council, has been among the most ardent supporters of the proposal. “If you had experienced what I did when I was a board member, there would be no question in your mind about the need for this,” Huizar said. “This will bring about a cultural revolution in the school district.” Villaraigosa, as part of his mayoral campaign, also received support from the leaders of several business organizations, including the United Chambers of the San Fernando Valley, the Encino Chamber of Commerce, the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central City Association. Pamela Carradi of the United Chambers, said her group has long supported reform of the LAUSD. “We wanted to see the district broken up,” Carradi said. “But we support the mayor’s plan. The status quo is simply unacceptable.” Villaraigosa said it was important for him to have a cross section of support. “People say to me that this will be good only for the poor schools,” Villaraigosa said. “That’s not it. This will only work if it works for the San Fernando Valley, if it works for East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles. “It has to work for all the children of the city or we will all fail.” [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 read more