“The Reformers Are Dead, Long Live the Reformers,” ran the headline to a story by Howard Blume, noting that reformers faced an “uncertain future” after losing two out of three School Board races.
But that story was actually written in 2003 — back when Blume was writing for the LA Weekly rather than his current gig at the LA Times — and concerned a different Coalition: the Coalition for Kids, headed by then-Mayor Richard Riordan.
Ten years later, the story is pretty much the same — only the names have changed. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform just spent over $4 million on three races, losing all but one.
And, with Villaraigosa on his way out, some donors fuming at their expensive defeat, and with the very usefulness of independent expenditure (IE) campaigns fueled by big-money donations being questioned, the Coalition yet again faces an uncertain future.
Possible changes that may be discussed at a Friday meeting include dissolving as an organization, creating a year-round non-profit advocacy group, or simply changing names when the next Board elections take place in two years.
At about noon on Wednesday, District 6 School Board candidate Antonio Sanchez conceded the race to his opponent, Monica Ratliff, and wished her good luck – an hour or two after the Coalition for School Reform had already done so.
“From what I’ve seen, from the reports, I believe Monica’s the winner,” he told LA School Report. “I wish Monica and everybody on the School Board success.”
In a written statement, the teachers union congratulated Ratliff on her victory: “We are overjoyed that a working classroom teacher will be on the School Board. Ms. Ratliff has seen firsthand the kind of harm that is done when a District is mismanaged.”
UTLA also trumpeted its support for its endorsed Mayoral candidate, Eric Garcetti, who handily defeated Wendy Greuel to become the next Mayor of Los Angeles.
Since LA School Report wrote about the campaign aftermath yesterday morning (see: How Ratliff Won & Reformers Lost), reactions and post-election analysis have continued to pour in, including exultation from Ratliff supporters and head-scratching from Sanchez allies.
Thus far, at least, there’s no real consensus about why Sanchez lost or — just as interesting — exactly how Ratliff won. But there are lots of theories.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has added his voice to a group of education leaders who are reluctant to support the current union-supported teacher dismissal bill being considered in Sacramento unless it’s amended to address key issues.
In an April 19 letter sent to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), Villaraigosa praises Buchanan for her “willingness to tackle this difficult and sensitive issue.” But he says he’s withholding support for the bill, known as AB 375, unless she addresses “areas of concern” he has — many of which echo those that have been expressed by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, education advocacy group EdVoice, and former State Senator Gloria Romero.
LAUSD Board Votes to Improve Abuse Investigations
With 278 Los Angeles Unified educators sitting in “teacher jail,” the school board voted Tuesday to streamline and improve the investigations of those accused of serious physical abuse or sexual misconduct. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report, LA Times
L.A. Unified Board Ratifies ‘Parent-Trigger’ Partnership
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday ratified a partnership between the school district and a charter school to take control of struggling 24th Street Elementary under a controversial parent-empowerment law. LA Times
See also: Color Lines, LA School Report
School Board Renews Contract for Ivy Academia Charter
The petition by Ivy Academia Entreprenurial Charter School was renewed with little discussion, less than two weeks after a jury convicted its founders of grand theft, embezzlement and other charges. LA Times
See also: LA School Report
L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Challenges on Schools
Unions and other elements of the education establishment strongly backed Antonio Villaraigosa’s steps up the political ladder – until he became an advocate of charter schools, parental empowerment, modifying teacher seniority and tenure and other reforms that the establishment despises. Sac Bee Opinion
California Democrats Blast Efforts to Overhaul Schools
California Democrats on Sunday condemned efforts led by members of their own party to overhaul the nation’s schools, arguing that groups such as StudentsFirst and Democrats for Education Reform are fronts for Republicans and corporate interests. LA Times
L.A. School Reform Effort Draws Diverse Group of Wealthy Donors
Republicans, liberals, Hollywood notables and global corporate executives are among those who gave to the Coalition for School Reform. LA Times
LAUSD Chief John Deasy Draws Fire as He Pursues Aggressive Reform Plan
The reforms that Deasy enacted – and just how aggressively he’s pursued them – have put the fast-talking New Englander at the center of a heated debate over the future of the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Daily News
Interest in Teaching Continues to Drop in California
Interest in teaching is steadily dropping in California, with the number of educators earning a teaching credential dipping by 12% last year — marking the eighth straight annual decline. LA Times
See also: EdSource
What LA’s next Mayor should do to help make the schools better has been on everyone’s minds this week, and KPCC interviewed three education leaders to get their views.
Elise Buik, president of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, wants the mayor to help the district “replicate high-performance schools and transform low-performing schools more quickly.”
Marshall Tuck, CEO of Partnership for LA Schools, wants to know if the future mayor understands the state of LA schools and what they need to succeed:
And Gloria Romero, director of California’s Democrats for Education Reform, wants the new mayor to have more direct involvement in all LA schools — not just the lowest performing ones:
You can also read and listen to the full story at KPCC.
Greuel to Release Education Plan
Greuel might have wanted her staff to do a little better advance work, because Garcetti is well liked at the school — Camino Nuevo Charter Academy — which he helped get a $700,000 grant to help build a new soccer field,” reports The Times. KPCC
Eric Garcetti Avoids Schoolyard Tussle With Wendy Greuel
On the heels of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calling on the two mayoral candidates to step up and communicate their education platforms during his State of the City address Tuesday night, Wendy Greuel stepped up with a challenge to Eric Garcetti. KPCC
See also: LA School Report, Annenberg News, LA Times
LAUSD Superintendent Fires Lemon Teachers
The speed with which Deasy moves and speaks is well documented. He brings an uncomfortable impatience to the LAUSD supe’s job as he moves to increase the types of schools available to students (known as School Choice), raise achievement on test scores and graduation rates, and require accountability from L.A.’s more than 20,000 tenured-for-life teachers. LA Weekly
Education Coalition Wants to Stay Course in L.A. Unified
A coalition of groups, including the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, has launched an effort to put education at the center of the mayoral race and civic attention. LA Times
See also: LA School Report
Operation Back in School Sweeps up Truant Kids
Operation Back in School, a multi-agency task force in the Harbor area Wednesday to sweep up truant kids who should be in school. No citations were issued in a friendlier approach to the problem that offered counseling for kids and parents. Daily Breeze
Parents Choose Unique School Takeover Model in ‘Trigger’ Vote
In the latest test of California’s controversial “parent trigger” law, South Los Angeles parents have voted to transform their struggling neighborhood school into a charter school hybrid beginning this fall, organizers announced Wednesday. Hechinger Report
See also: LA Times, LA School Report
Graduations Up, Dropouts Down in LAUSD, Statewide
High school graduation rates for Los Angeles Unified and districts across California increased last year, with Latino students showing larger gains than their white and Asian classmates, the state Department of Education said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, KPCC
Villaraigosa Criticizes Mayoral Candidates Over Education Goals
In the last major speech of his mayoral career, Antonio Villaraigosa chastised the two politicians seeking to replace him for not laying out visionary education goals, urging the candidates to look to other big cities for inspiration. LA Daily News
See also: Associated Press, LA School Report
The Greuel-Garcetti Conundrum
Here’s why two San Fernando Valley voters have switched allegiances, and why a third is still pondering. LA Times Column (Steve Lopez)
Los Angeles Unified School District Hires Security Aides to Watch for Threats
Tenth Street Elementary is in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles, a few blocks west of the Staples Center and downtown skyscrapers. It’s a tough neighborhood; school security is always an issue. KPCC
Apples to Apples Comparison of Brown’s Funding Formula
Twenty-two of the 50 largest districts in the state would receive more money under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed K-12 funding formula when it’s fully funded, potentially in seven years, while 28 districts would do better if additional money were simply divvied up under the current system, with no reforms, according to data provided this week by the state Department of Finance. EdSource
See also: SI&A Cabinet Report
Outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to deliver his final State of the City address at UCLA tonight, and he plans to use the speech to criticize mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel on their education plans. Villaraigosa spokesperson Peter Sanders told the LA Times that the mayor will “take to task” Greuel and Garcetti for not placing Los Angeles schools higher on their campaign priorities lists.
According to the prepared version of the speech released by the mayor’s office this afternoon, Villaraigosa will express why he thinks “it has been so disheartening to see our mayoral candidates devote so little time to a serious discussion of how to deliver a quality education for all our children.”
In the prepared speech, Villaraigosa goes on to say, “Education reform can’t be a footnote on a campaign mailer or fodder for an attack ad. Improving our schools must be front and center of a real debate and discussion. It is time for our candidates to demonstrate the ‘fierce urgency of now’ when it comes to ensuring that all, not some, not many, but all of our children have access to great schools.”
Click here to read the full prepared text of Villaraigosa’s speech. Or, starting at 5 p.m., go here to watch a livestream of the speech. And check back later at LA School Report for any reactions from the candidates to being chided for their perceived lack of focus on this issue.
A new report out from a Washington DC think tank closely associated with the Democratic Party takes a look at the history of “mayoral control” of big-city school systems in which City Hall runs a district rather than an independently elected Board of Education.
According to the report, written by a pair of academics from Brown University and the University of Minnesota (and funded by the Broad Foundation), mayoral control doesn’t work everywhere but is associated with rising test scores and “can be a catalyst for reform.”
A recent oped in the Washington Post suggests that mayoral control limits community engagement and has proven itself not to be the silver bullet that had been hoped.
Previous posts: Mayor: Low Turnout Undercuts Elected Board; Differing Views of Villaraigosa Education Record
In a new KPCC radio interview that aired earlier today, Mayor Villaraigosa surprised nobody touting his record on education — claiming to have doubled the number of schools at 800 and above in the API (academic performance index), for example — and taking aim at the notion that LAUSD should have an independent elected School Board:
“We had a 14 percent turnout for this last school board election, and for the last mayor’s race… The only person who has the wherewithal, if you will, to really push through these changes is a mayor.”
Mayor Villaraigosa famously tried and failed to win control of the School Board, won only mixed results from the just-completed 2013 primaries, and this week saw the Board vote to end the Presidency of Monica Garcia, one of his chief allies.
Previous posts: Defiant Mayor Promises Continued Involvement; Differing Views of Villaraigosa Education Record; Voter Turnout Far Below Expectations,
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is likely to be remembered for his efforts on behalf of public education in Los Angeles. But will he be considered effective and successful or not?
The initial verdicts are starting to come in, and they are predictably mixed.
On Tuesday, KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez produced a generally negative view of the Mayor’s accomplishments, saying that Villaraigosa “fell short” as LA’s education mayor. Key criticisms in the story include Villaraigosa’s failed takeover of the LAUSD Board, the less-than-miraculous improvements at his Partnership for LA Schools, and the credit he takes for actions outside of his direct control.
A more balanced assessment of the Mayor’s legacy can be heard on this March 5 “Which Way, LA?” segment that includes both the Mayor’s own views of his record, as well as those of UCLA’s Franklin Gilliam and LA News Group’s Mariel Garza. (A Patt Morrison interview with Mayor Villaraigosa mentioned in the KPCC legacy story isn’t going to be posted until Thursday, according to the station.)
When LA School Report reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment, they said they were not interested in debating the KPCC article, but they did stand by the list of education accomplishments it referenced. Passage of school construction bonds is included as one of Villaraigosa’s successes because of the active role he played in supporting the bond measures when he was the speaker of the California State Assembly, according to the Mayor’s office.
See the mayor’s office’s full list of Villaraigosa’s education accomplishments here:
Mayor Villaraigosa’s List of LAUSD Education Accomplishments, 2005 – 2012
Why Antonio Villaraigosa Fell Short as LA’s Education Mayor
As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to step down in June, among the achievements he takes credit for during his eight years in office is improving one institution that the law gives him no authority over: the public schools. KPCC
CTC to Survey New Teacher Prep Grads for Data on System Improvements
Concerned that too many of California’s teacher preparation programs don’t measure up to the state’s high standards, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing is set to undertake a data collection program aimed at pin-pointing strengths and weaknesses of specific institutions. SI&A Cabinet Report
California School Districts Send out Far Fewer Pink Slips
Thanks to a boost in money for public education, California school districts have issued just 3,000 pink slips to teachers this year, a dramatic drop from the 20,000 sent out last year, the California Teachers Assn. reported Monday. LA Times
School District Discriminated Against Gay Students, ACLU Alleges
In a letter from the ACLU, the Hesperia Unified School District is accused of discriminating against gay and lesbian students, including refusing to allow girls to wear tuxedos to the prom. LA Times
See also: AP
Last week’s School Board primary outcome wasn’t a win or even a mixed result for Mayor Villaraigosa and his merry band of reformers, according to former state senator Gloria Romero. It was a big loss.
Romero has had public disagreements with Villaraigosa in the past, and she first made her negative assessment of the outcome in an LA Times piece last week.
Now, in a new Orange County Register commentary, the head of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) – California writes, “The balance of power on the school board has shifted away from the mayor, who overreached, and from the broader reform community.” Continue reading
Photo by Don Liebig / UCLA Luskin
Before and during a Wednesday evening education event held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, a tired-looking Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed frustration about the previous day’s election results — and pledged to keep working on school reform issues even after his term expires.
“Obviously I was disappointed with the results in the fourth district,” Villaraigosa told LA School Report. ”I had hoped Kate Anderson would prevail.”
However, he said he was emboldened by District 2 incumbent Monica Garcia‘s victory and was already rolling up his sleeves to help elect District 6 challenger Antonio Sanchez in the runoff. He cast the election in startlingly personal terms.
“I won one, I’m leading in another, and I lost one,” he said, referring to Tuesday’s outcomes. “And I’m not giving up.”
L.A. School Board Race Tops Spending Records
The city’s ethics commission, which tracks campaign finances, reported this week that independent expenditures in the three board races represent a 977 percent increase over the primary four years ago, the last time these three seats were up for grabs. EdWeek
See also: LA School Report
Mayoral Rivals Talk Like Supply-Siders; Spending Roars
While the candidates are going to pains to try to differentiate themselves before the March 5 election, they found one issue to agree upon unanimously at an education forum in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday — their desire to retain John Deasy. LA Times
Mayoral Candidates Discuss Ways to Improve Schools at Education Summit
The five candidates running to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each vowed Wednesday to continue his commitment to public education, along with his strong support of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and vision for reform. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, Neon Tommy
Keep Questions Coming About L.A. Candidates’ Union Cash
Official records show union political action committees account for the vast majority of the more than $7.5 million spent on citywide, City Council and L.A. school board races so far in the form of unrestricted independent expenditures. Business groups can’t keep up. LA Daily News Editorial
Left to right: Jan Perry, Kevin James, Wendy Greuel, and Eric Garcetti
In a Mayoral election dominated by the economy and the budget, education has been barely a blip on the leading candidates’ radar screens.
For a moment, at least, all that will change on Wednesday, February 27, when the five Mayoral candidates take part in a debate at the United Way’s education summit.
The question is whether any of the candidates will use the event as a time to get more specific about their positions — and distinguish themselves from each other. Some reform insiders are suggesting that more differences between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel will emerge at the event. Continue reading
Michelle Rhee Group Donates $250,000 to Candidates in LAUSD Races
A group led by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee donated $250,000 Wednesday to contests for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education, adding further political fuel to a battle over the direction of reform efforts in the nation’s second-largest school system. LA Times
More campaign coverage here: KPCC, Jewish Journal, NBC LA
L.A. Votes: Greuel Fights Back
With the clock ticking down to election day, the Los Angeles mayor’s race is getting testy. LA Times
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy Seeks No Child Left Behind Waivers
With California unable to get a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, LAUSD and nine other districts have launched an effort to create their own data-based accountability systems — and have more freedom in how to spend tens of millions in federal dollars. LA Daily News
More Students Taking and Passing Advanced Placement Exams
More students in the Los Angeles Unified School District took and passed an Advanced Placement exam last year, reflecting a rise in success on the college-level tests in California and nationwide. LA Times
See also LADN
Mayor Villaraigosa at today’s 24th Street Elementary parents’ event. Image: Colin Young-Wolff
He may never have won direct control over LAUSD and he may or may not ever get a Cabinet appointment. He may have only a few more weeks before his replacement is picked.
But outgoing LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa still enjoys some big days on the education reform front.
Today included news that Villaraigosa had convinced New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to contribute $1 million to the independent expenditure committee Villaraigosa supports — news that was picked up nationally by Politico as well as by LA School Report, the LA Weekly, and the LA Times.
Villaraigosa also had time to do a morning appearance with the folks from Parent Revolution, whose parent trigger approach Villaraigosa strongly supports. Later on in the day, the LAUSD School Board voted –unanimously — to approve the parent trigger petition there.
Previous posts: Duncan and Villaraigosa Praise LA , The Mayor’s Legacy, Who Will Pick Up the Mayor’s Education Torch?, Trigger Gains Traction
In a conversation with LA School Report, City Council member and mayoral candidate Jan Perry praised Mayor Villaraigosa’s efforts in the field of education and “pursuing better outcomes for students.”
Perry said she would support the Mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, and she hopes Villaraigosa will continue to play a role in the organization. “When his term ends, I hope he would be President Emeritus, so his institutional knowledge would not be lost,” she said.
Perry is the only African-American candidate running for Mayor, and if elected, would be the first female Mayor of Los Angeles. Recent polls have her in third place, behind Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, and just ahead of Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez. As a City Council member, Perry made a name for herself as pro-business and pro-downtown growth politician.
Perry also praised LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy: “His level of attention to detail, his continual enthusiasm for his job amazes me. And he seems open to new ideas constintanly. He’s one of a kind.”
However, Perry differs from the outgoing Mayor on one issue: raising money for “school reform” candidates. “What I haven’t liked is, he doesn’t meet someone, dumps a bunch of money, and says, ‘You’re gonna win.’” Picking reform candidates “has to be organic process from the ground up. It should be more independent,” said Perry. ”And they should care about students first.”