Charismatic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is ready to shake up his city's beleaguered schools, and he's looking to Chicago and New York for lessons. He even took a field trip to the Big Apple this week, meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein to explore the potential and perils of mayoral control of schools. We hope the New Yorkers gave Villaraigosa the straight dope. As Chicago's Mayor Daley has learned, getting control of the schools is only the first step-then you have to figure out what to do with them. While Klein and company have had some success trimming the bureaucracy and expanding charter schools, their love affair with progressive educator Lucy Calkins has led to a pedagogical disaster of epic proportions. And it's hard to argue that those folks Bloomberg called "powerful entrenched interests" are significantly less so in either the Windy City or N.Y.C. Here's your homework, Mayor V: articulate a political plan to empower the system's consumers, especially poor and minority families, and then develop an education plan to actually address their needs. We suspect you'll find that mayoral control is part of the blueprint-necessary but by no means sufficient.
"Chicago Schools Offer L.A. a Cautionary Tale," by Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2006
"Mayor Gets Takeover Tutorial in New York," by Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2006
"A is for accountability," Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2006