No clue how mayor would help LAUSD
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesFor instance, there is reason to believe that graduation rates have been too high. The California Exit Exam, effective for the first time last June, held back about 4,000 LAUSD seniors from graduation. The mayor’s figures for graduation rates are from previous years, so they are too high in the sense that many of those graduating seniors did not learn what they were supposed to learn. Incredibly, the mayor has not joined the recent debate on the exit exam as it faced court hurdles (which it passed). He takes easy potshots at LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, but at least Romer acts like an educational leader and speaks to issues like the exit exam. We know what Romer thinks of it, and why. We don’t know what the mayor thinks. We also don’t know what a mayoral takeover would do for teachers. The most formidable foes the takeover bid could have had are United Teachers Los Angeles and the California Teachers Association, and indeed both opposed AB 1381 until Villaraigosa’s lobbying trip to Sacramento last month. No one knows what he said to the unions, but it was clearly persuasive because within a day of his return, CTA and UTLA were e-mailing their memberships about their new partnership with the mayor. There ensued much fury within UTLA’s board of directors and the rank and file about the abrupt and unexplained shift in policy, so UTLA sent out a “Q & A on AB 1381.” The lengthy document is more telling for what it does not say than for what it does. It includes no mention of salaries, of work conditions, of policy matters that might affect graduation rates, of problems of discipline, or attendance and tardy policy – all matters dear to the hearts of teachers. The only claimed victory for teachers is a vague promise that they will be able to state their views on curriculum during the bargaining process, with a disclaimer that the legislation “will not give teachers control over curriculum, and the gains should not be overstated.” No money, no workplace improvements, not even the much-vaunted “control of curriculum.” Teachers are scratching their heads wondering what their union got from supporting AB 1381. We should all be scratching our heads. It’s one thing to be mad at the LAUSD. It’s another thing to restructure its governance in the name of … nothing. We are asked to let our anger and impatience guide us, and that’s the politician’s favorite climate for manipulation. Doug Lasken teaches English in the Los Angeles Unified School District and consults for the State Board of Education. ONE thing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa can do well is line up his political ducks. His Los Angeles Unified School District takeover bid, enabled by proposed Assembly Bill 1381, now has the support of many of the usual power brokers – the City Council, key players in the state Legislature, the governor and most importantly (and surprisingly) the teachers unions. But what the mayor has not done well, probably because he doesn’t have to, is enunciate what exactly he is going to do with the L.A. schools. For example, Villaraigosa says he will improve graduation rates. How will he do this? He won’t say. His comments on this subject are always negative, e.g. – “The status quo is unacceptable” – a typical electioneering gambit that does not constitute a policy statement. Perhaps the mayor knows that if he gets into actual policy, he will step on toes.