Urban brawl

People typically try to avoid unintended consequences, but there are exceptions. This might be one. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's move to take control of the L.A. Unified School District is leading some activists again to call for the break-up of the sprawling system, which serves at least 27 municipalities other than Los Angeles proper. The residents of these outlying communities currently vote for LAUSD's school board; if that board goes away, so would their say in district affairs. So they are threatening to secede—an action that could unintentionally lead to a happy ending for everyone. If secession goes forward, the City of Angels would finally have someone to hold accountable for the quality of its schools (the mayor). And the L.A. metro area would start to look more like, say, Boston's, where a relatively large number of suburban districts compete for parents and students, thus raising achievement (see here). With the potential for this conflict to yield such gains, here's hoping for an un-amicable resolution this holiday season.

"School Takeover Plan: Too Big an Assignment?" by Richard Fausset and Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2005

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