The runoff for school board seats in two districts takes place today. If Antonio Villaraigosa’s two candidates win, he will have a majority on the LAUSD school board sympathetic to his agenda. In District 7 (Watts, Harbor area), an open seat, Antonio’s candidate Richard Vladovic has outspent retired principal Neal Kleiner by 13 to 1, as the teacher’s union has stayed neutral. The real race is in District 3 (South and West SF Valley), between incumbent Jon Lauritzen and Villaraigosa candidate Tamar Galatzan. Nearly FOUR MILLION DOLLARS has been spent in this race. Last time turnout was under 10%. Today it might come down, literally, to how many teachers show up to vote. It’s sad, because this vote will have major implications for the future of LA’s schools, as well as the future of the man who is the favorite to be California’s next governor.
A state appeals court today soundly renounced a law designed to give Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa substantial authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District. The ruling is the second — and perhaps final — blow to what was once the centerpiece of Villaraigosa’s education-reform plan.
Today’s unanimous decision, by a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, found the law, Assembly Bill 1381, unconstitutional — and it was not a close call, in the view of the justices. In its one-paragraph conclusion, the justices gave particular importance to the revised Los Angeles City Charter that was approved during the term of then-Mayor Richard Riordan. That charter revision reaffirmed the election of school-board members with authority to govern the school district, in the view of the court.
There’s almost no way that the State Supreme Court would choose to take a case when the appeals court voiced this strong a takedown. The next step for Antonio is to have his candidates win the two outstanding school board runoffs next month. After that, if he can’t hammer out a deal there, he may have to go to the ballot if he wants to get this done. This is really a crushing defeat for the mayor, who staked a lot of political capital on this issue.
The decision on the flip…
“The citizens of Los Angeles have the constitutional right to decide whether their school board is to be appointed or elected,” the justices wrote. “If the citizens of Los Angeles choose to amend their charter to allow the mayor to appoint the members of the board, such amendment would indisputably be proper. What is not permissible is for the Legislature to ignore that constitutional right and to bypass the will of the citizens of Los Angeles and effectively transfer many of powers of the board to the mayor, based on its belief, hope, or assumption that he could do a better job.”
(Hmmm, a school board candidate making his case to us…
Now that’s what I like to see! ; ) – promoted by atdleft)
I wish to be on the School Board to represent the students and teachers in LAUSD. I have a faith in public education and want to see it flourish in this century. In the last fifty years we have slowly becoming a nation of “haves” and “have nots”. That could have serious social and economic consequences for future generations. It is only through a strong public school system where a high percentage of young people graduate from high school and continue their education that this trend can be reversed. I pledge not only to fight to preserve and defend public education in LAUSD but to also work diligently to continue the growth we’ve made in the last five years and to continue to work to regain our once illustrious past. I am also against the mayor of Los Angeles attempt to “buy” the Board after he lost in court. He has enough problems in Los Angeles that he doesn’t need to use the schools as a “whipping boy” in his early run for governor. I respect many of his ideas, just not his way of bringing about reform.
When elected, I pledge to:
Work to increase high school graduation rates and ensure equal access to the A to G requirements.
See that those high school graduates who do not wish to attend college have a marketable skill when they leave high school.
Urge the state to make kindergarten compulsory and ensure that all children have an opportunity to attend some type of pre-school.
Attract the best and brightest teachers to our district, even for those hard to staff positions
Ensure an adequate compensation package including both pay and health care to keep veteran teachers from leaving LAUSD.
Eliminate waste and redundancy in the Central and Local Districts; use the savings to reduce class size in both elementary and secondary education.
Amidst an absurdly low turnout, LA Mayor and nominal 2010 gubernatorial front-runner Antonio Villaraigosa was not quite successful enough to tip the school board in his favor – at least not yet.
There were 4 open seats on the school board. Villaraigosa was fairly well assured to win 2. He needed 3 for a majority on the board. Here are the results:
In nearly complete returns, the mayor’s favored candidates finished ahead in three races and trailed in the fourth. But two of those leads were not sizable enough to avoid a May runoff, meaning that, once again, Villaraigosa’s school intervention plans could be put on hold […]
The two big-money contests pitted an incumbent against a challenger favored by the mayor. In those races, Villaraigosa faced one loss and one runoff. The union-backed Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte won handily in her South Los Angeles race and Villaraigosa-favored Tamar Galatzan and incumbent Jon M. Lauritzen headed to a May showdown in the San Fernando Valley.
The mayor officially sat out the battle in District 1, which pitted incumbent LaMotte against charter school operator Johnathan Williams.
He “sat it out,” most likely, because he didn’t want to get sullied by Williams’ defeat. But he pretty much did everything but endorse him. Williams outspent his oppoenent by 2-to-1 and still lost.
That the Galatzan-Lauritzen race is headed to a run-off is no surprise: the two had big money behind them, the challenger from the mayor and the incumbent from the teachers’ union. Amazingly, the mayor was unable to put away the race in District 7, where Villaraigosa-endorsed Richard Vladovic will now go to a May runoff against retired principal and low-funded candidate Neal B. Kleiner. That’s really surprising to me.
We’ll now see a UTLA firewall strategy for May. Villaraigosa needs both seats to gain a school board majority. And he seems to know that it’s a tall order, because he’s being conciliatory again:
Villaraigosa had planned to oust at the ballot box any board members who resisted his schools agenda, but amid Tuesday night’s uncertain outcome, he adopted a conciliatory tone. Earlier, he had called board President Marlene Canter, with whom he had refused to meet for months.
“I want to work with the school board,” he said in an interview. “I’m reaching out…. I’m looking for a partnership that’s focused on change and innovation. That’s what it’s been about from the beginning.”
Riiiight. Why do I have trouble believing that one? Must be the two million dollars funneled to candidates battling incumbent school board members.
Schwarzenegger has signed Villaraigosa’s LAUSD control bill, and thus, Antonio’s Big GambleTM is on.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger handed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a much-anticipated prize Monday, signing a law that will give the mayor substantial control over the Los Angeles public schools.
Appearing together for a bill-signing ceremony at the Los Angeles Central Library, the officials said the change would bring new accountability to a system that fails students, teachers and parents.
“I’m asking for people to hold me personally accountable for leading improvement in the schools,” the mayor said. He urged school board members to drop their challenge. “Accept the will of the people,” he said. (LA Times 9/19/06)
You know, this is really a huge gamble on Villaraigosa’s part. The weakened bill that ultimately passed gives him only moderate power over the schools. He has some authority, but it’s quite tempered by other mayors outside of the 3 high schools he will control. What can he accomplish? Schools can take a long time for improvement. Will he really be able to get results in time for his next election? Additionally, it’s possible that the state courts might invalidate this whole deal.
But on the other hand, it appears the weakening could provide him with an escape route. If schools don’t improve, he can point out that he wasn’t given all the power he requested.
This is all quite uncharted territory. It really is his Big GambleTM.
The Senate passed the “Gloria Romero Educational Reform Act” with only one vote to spare (22-14). The bill will go to the assembly, where some Dems have announced opposition to the plan. Asm. Dymally (D-Compton) has announced his opposition to the plan based on a lack of communication with the African-American community.
Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), who heads the state Legislature’s black caucus, said Sunday that he opposes Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to gain substantial authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Dymally’s announcement, made to The Times through a spokeswoman, came the day after an “emergency” meeting of the caucus at the Renaissance Montura Hotel Los Angeles near the airport. … Participants interviewed for this article said they were worried that the plan would diminish African American influence in a school district that educates tens of thousands of African Americans.
“African Americans were silent because they were not included on issues that directly affect African American children,” said Dymally spokeswoman Jasmyne Cannick.
The group, which also included Assemblymen Jerome Horton of Inglewood and Mark Ridley-Thomas of Los Angeles, and state Sen. Ed Vincent of Inglewood, discussed whether to take a united stand against the bill, but it was unclear Sunday whether all of the participants were persuaded to oppose it. (LA Times 8/28/06)
The Assembly could yield some interesting results.