Saturday, August 05, 2006

AB 1381 - x minus three weeks - but who's counting?

4LAKids: Sunday, Aug 6, 2006
In This Issue:
TAKEOVER LEGALITY DOUBTED: Antonio's plan for LAUSD full of constitutional issues
SCHOOL-CLUSTER BLUSTER: Mayor's supporters say we should focus on the LAUSD schools he'll take over, but 19 out of 20 district kids won't be affected
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

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THE CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ART. IX § 6: "No school or college or any other part of the Public School System shall be, directly or indirectly, transferred from the Public School System or placed under the jurisdiction of any authority other than one included within the Public School System."

LAST WEEK at the Assembly Education Committee Hearing at Irving Middle School there was a lot of talk about dropouts and leftovers. The Mayor and his team trotted out their dropout numbers, Superintendent Romer his – and the battle was joined – with everyone agreeing that the numbers, whether 50%, 34% or 25% were too high.

Hallelujah – a meeting of the minds!

"Leftovers" refers to the Mayor's infamous – "I stand behind it but I never signed it" forty-two-page April 2nd draft plan for school reform: "TAKING BACK OUR SCHOOLS". In it Special Ed and Magnet Schools were called "leftovers" – difficult items to be settled later. That plan had no detail, no budgets, no parent input. Adult Ed was to be farmed out to Community Colleges – never you mind that the Community College system said: "No way – No how!"

Speakers at the Thursday hearing ragged on the Mayor and Speaker Nuñez so incessantly about leftovers that Jackie Goldberg established a ground rule - no one was allowed to say "leftovers" in the meeting any more! Of course someone did – Mayor Villaraigosa remembered another engagement and was outta there.

Speaker Nuñez was a little more demonstrative – he poked a finger at Superintendent Romer and stormed out. If he kicked over a chair I didn't see that – but we all saw the finger pointing and the grand exit on the Channel 5 news.

TUESDAY NIGHT there was another hearing, this time in the Valley, hosted by Assemblyman Richman and Senator Runner. The Mayor didn't show – he was a few blocks away at a "Night Out in Reseda" meeting - sending former Mayor Riordan in his place. Riordan embraced breaking up LAUSD with much more enthusiasm than he supported Assembly Bill 1381. AB 1381 was the reason we were there, from the urgency at City Hall it seems the reason for all existence.

Another speaker from the Mayor's Team, David Fleming - the actual author of the AB 1381 legislation - spent more time bashing the teachers unions than supporting AB 1381. Need I remind you – CTA and UTLA are the mayor's main partners.

Wednesday Marcus Castain – the author of the leaked-but-unsigned "TAKING BACK OUR SCHOOLS" spoke to the Parent Collaborative and defended the Teacher's Unions; they are wonderful partners who just need to be brought along . The Mayor couldn't come to meet with the parents Wednesday either. .He was at an event at Olvera Street ...two blocks away.

And when parents questioned the lack of specifics and the lack of parent involvement up to this point in the plan the mayor's other spokesman, Rafael Gonzales, offered this explanation: "We will involve parents in the discussion and develop the specifics after the legislation passes."

After the legislation passes. They will involve parents. And they will develop specifics. After.

So: Parent Involvement and Specifics are "leftovers". Like Special Ed and Magnet Schools.

THURSDAY THE MAYOR HAD ANOTHER TOWN HALL MEETING, this one at Valley College. [see: Mayor, Foes Focus on School Takeover at 2 Events] There were the same tired statistics "proving" failure put into a newer, flashier PowerPoint presentation. There was no more detail on the plan than before ― other than the surprise announcement that one of the Mayor's Chosen High School Clusters would be in the Valley. Funny that: The legislation says that the clusters will be selected by Mayor, Superintendent, School District and Community by mutual consensus. This Town Hall featured an "open mic" Q&A – with proponents and charter school parents – and the mayor's own teacher – coincidentally at the head of the line when the spontaneous announcement was made, something like this:

DAILY NEWS EDITOR RON KAYE: "Mr. Mayor, rather than answer the questions we asked everyone to fill out on all these cards, what do you say we take questions directly from the audience?"

VILLARAIGOSA: "That sounds like a great idea Ron!"

THE NOT-SO-UNITED FRONT AT THE TEACHER'S UNION seems to be crumbling [see: L.A. Unified Teachers to Weigh In on Deal] The timeline favors the mayor, but a union vote to oppose after the legislation passes could doom implementation and the current UTLA leadership.

THE LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL OF CALIFORNIA – the legislature's own attorney - concludes after six pages of legal opinion and citations of case law: "Based on (the) considerations discussed above, it is our opinion that Section 6 of Article IX of the California Constitution would be construed by a court to prohibit the Legislature from transferring by statute authority or control over educational functions currently performed by a school district to the mayor of a charter city." [see: Takeover Legality Doubted]

The bill as amended expressly declares the Council of Mayors to be a part of the Public School System; the Leg Counsel obviously doesn't buy that "for purpose of this legislation all cats are declared dogs" legalism.

• Challenges checks and balances between the City Council and the Mayor – two co-equal branches of the City.
• THE CLC worries about the role and undefined authority of the super-governmental Council if Mayors.
• The CLC sees great financial, fiscal and fiduciary risk to the city.
• And the CLC's recommendation for amendment adds yet another layer of bureaucracy - the City Council - to the already challenged AB 1381 bureaucracy

In other words: AB 1381 is unconstitutional and violates the City Charter – both which the Mayor is sworn to uphold.

AS A MEMBER OF THE BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE – with oversight of the District's $19.1 Billion Construction and Modernization Program – I see other issues. An appointed superintendent negotiating and awarding construction contracts without oversight invites malfeasance; the involving of local politicians from the Council of Mayors in this leads the easily-tempted into the toy store with someone else's credit card.

The reported abuse in the Capistrano School District is a cautionary tale [LA Times 8/5: "More Dubious Links Found at Capistrano School District"]; the allegations of impropriety and political favoritism at the City of LA Building Department [LA Times 8/5: "Building Unit to Be Probed"] bring it all much closer to home.

But it isn’t politicians in court or jail that worries me; it's kids without classrooms they been promised, their parents voted for and the taxpayers paid for.

THE RECENT OPINIONS of the State Leg Counsel and City Leg Analyst has sent AB 1381 back to the drawing board for more late night negotiation, amendment and legalistic wordsmithing – City Hall and State Capitol actions have been postponed – not for outreach and discussion ….but for more back room dealing.

THERE WAS ANOTHER MEETING of Parents, Teachers, Community Members and Students at Wilson High School Thursday night – a bit of unvarnished democracy; a true discussion of goings-on and a real sharing of opinion, pro-and-mostly-con.

At the Wilson meeting an interesting option/compromise emerged.

It was proposed the mayor abandon AB 1381 as currently proposed and work with the powers that be (but-do not-speak) to create an independent charter district of the pilot high school clusters – with the mayor, superintendent, council of mayors, city council(s), unions, community, parents, etc. as the governing authority. This would still require legislation or state Board of Ed blessing in Sacramento; charter districts have been disallowed in the past (Palisades Charter High School District was shot down).

This idea was accepted on face as worthy of discussion by Boardmembers LaMotte and Tokofsky – who were at the Wilson meeting.

This is not my idea – but I think many could support it if some of the "Cluster Bluster" objections in Friday's Times were addressed and if real dialog broke out. Any pilot or demonstration project must have real provisions to apply 'lessons learned' to the larger district, not in some future review – but in a dynamic and continuous process. —smf



By Howard Blume and Arin Gencer, LA Times Staff Writers

August 4, 2006 - The popular status of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school-reform plan was a matter of geography Thursday — both political and territorial.

An evening "town hall" meeting at Los Angeles Valley College had the vibe of a campaign event, as a mostly friendly audience heard the mayor make his case for substantial authority over the city's public schools. Earlier in the day, elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley, a smaller group of parents and officials asserted their opposition to mayoral control.

Proposed state legislation would give Villaraigosa hiring and firing power over the schools superintendent as well as direct authority over three low-performing high schools and their feeder schools. Lawmakers are expected to act on the bill by the end of the month.

The Valley College event, before an overflow crowd of about 800, was paid for by the political action committee established to push Villaraigosa's plan. The mayor's committee also has paid for polling, just like any well-organized campaign.

Much of the heavy lifting Thursday night was done by Villaraigosa, who fielded questions from the audience for well over an hour.

As he has previously, he attacked the school system for its high dropout rate.

"On my BlackBerry, I get the major crimes that happen in this city as they happen on a real-time basis. I always say … when you find the suspect, you can be certain it will almost always be a high school dropout and/or somebody who can't read or write," Villaraigosa said. "There is a connection, make no mistake about it, with the dropout rate."

The questions and prompts ranged from softball — "I want to thank you for stepping up" — to the challenging: What made the mayor think that "expanding the school day" would help?

"That's a good question," the mayor said. "It's not automatic, but I'll tell you this: Shortening the day doesn't work. We've got to try new things and that's not the only strategy we'll use."

The evening included a five-minute film promoting school reform and high academic standards, followed by a PowerPoint presentation on the legislation.

The mayor's staff defined the event as informational, but spokesman Nathan James conceded similarities to campaign mode.

His own salary comes from the Mayor's Committee for Excellence and Accountability, set up to raise money in support of Villaraigosa's reforms. It has banked more than $1 million.

"It's not a campaign for a candidate," James said. "But people are coming out for and against the bill. So there's the idea of endorsements. And it's like a political campaign in that we're on a pre-fixed timeline…. The 'election' is, in some ways, Aug. 31" — the end of the state legislative session. "If the bill doesn't pass out of both houses by then, we wouldn't be meeting the goal."

Meanwhile, Villaraigosa's efforts — and the school district — took a few blows at a midday news conference in the library at the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, one of Los Angeles Unified's magnet schools.

"When my daughter has to run to a classroom to get a desk … then it's a problem," said Gladys Cantabrana, a mother of four who was among the 15 or so parents, teachers and students at the news conference. "I don't necessarily endorse [the legislation], but I do endorse a change," she said. "This is my chance to tell the Los Angeles Unified School District you have a problem."

The news conference was one more opportunity for critics from various constituencies — especially traditional parent organizations — to have their say.

"There are many ways the mayor can be involved, but to govern the school district is not the way," said Linda Ross, president of the 31st District Parent Teacher Student Assn..

The mayoral "town hall" at Valley College followed others in South Los Angeles and the Westside. An East Los Angeles gathering is scheduled for Tuesday.

So why does polling — and the other trappings of electioneering — matter for Villaraigosa if there will be no election?

"People contact their legislators," James said, "and through our website we are urging people to contact their legislators."

James said top officials of the district have been, in essence, running their own opposition campaign.

That point has been taken up by state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), a co-sponsor of the reform legislation.

On Thursday she formally accused the district, in a letter, of improperly using "public funds to promote a partisan position."

She also accused the district of refusing to provide public records to her and, in separate correspondence, asked the state attorney general and the Los Angeles County district attorney to investigate the school system for allegedly violating the public-records act.

District spokeswoman Shannon Murphy said the school system had done nothing improper.

"This is a diversionary tactic," Murphy said. "School districts, like other public agencies, have the right to lobby the Legislature for or against legislation and that is exactly what L.A. Unified is doing."

The district has spent close to $200,000 to date, she said, on lobbying and legal advice related to Villaraigosa's legislation.


by Joe Mathews, Times Staff Writer

August 1, 2006 - Los Angeles Unified teachers have submitted enough signatures to trigger an internal referendum on their union's support for legislation that would give some control over the schools to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But such a vote probably would not occur until after state lawmakers have considered the legislation.

Paul Huebner, one of a group of teachers calling themselves the Coalition for Union Democracy, said about 600 signatures were submitted Friday afternoon to the 47,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles.

Five hundred signatures trigger a vote by the membership. First, the union must print pro and con views in its monthly newsletter. The referendum must take place within 30 days of the printing of the views and within 60 days of the submission of signatures.

The state legislative session for the year, however, ends Aug. 31. Huebner and Frances Copeland-Miles, a middle school teacher who helped with signature gathering, said a union referendum might come after that, but they urged UTLA leaders to organize an expedited vote before the end of the Capitol session.

"This is all about union democracy and letting the members have a say in something that is very important to them," Huebner said.

After months of battling the mayor's bid for a complete takeover of the district, UTLA and the California Teachers Assn. reached an agreement with the mayor in June that would allow Villaraigosa to share power with the elected school board and the appointed superintendent.

But many UTLA members have expressed frustration with both the secrecy of the talks and the nature of the deal.

In July, teachers petitioned for a vote of the union's governing body, the House of Representatives, on the issue. That body narrowly voted, 101 to 89, to support a bill in the state Legislature, AB 1381, that would enshrine the compromise.

A.J. Duffy, UTLA president, said he expected signatures to be verified and he welcomed a vote.

"It's yet another way for me to reach out to the members … to assure them that while AB 1381 is imperfect, as is most legislation, there's a lot in there that is good for teachers," he said.

A union spokeswoman said UTLA would "look into" the possibility of an expedited vote but said she was unaware of any provision for speeding the process.

Duffy said it was quite possible a union vote would take place even after the Legislature acted on the bill.


Los Angeles, CA – The Coalition for Union Democracy, a broad coalition of members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), presented a referendum petition, signed by nearly 600 UTLA members—well in excess of the 500 signatures needed—to trigger a membership vote on the teacher union’s position on AB 1381. They are calling for an expedited vote of union members to assure that classroom teachers and support service providers in the LAUSD have a chance to fully weigh in on the bill before its consideration by the legislature is complete.

This legislation would grant increased mayoral influence over the L.A. Unified School District, enhance the authority of the District superintendent, initiate “demonstration projects” in three Los Angeles high school clusters—to be managed by the L.A. mayor, with the input of other stakeholders— and diminish the powers of the popularly-elected school board.

UTLA’s attorney wrote a letter to the coalition in an attempt to block the referendum effort. A partner in this law firm helped negotiate the content of AB 1381, and is a mayoral appointee to the Metropolitan Water District board. Nonetheless, the coalition collected the signatures in just six school days, though most UTLA members are on vacation. The signatures were submitted Friday afternoon.

The activists in the coalition are concerned that AB 1381 has far-reaching implications for members of UTLA and for the children they serve, yet it was negotiated with no input from executive board members, the House delegates, or the union political action council. “It was so undemocratic,” said Dr. Frances Copeland-Miles, a member of the union Board of Directors. “My biggest issue is union democracy. The Board of Directors was trampled on, and the House was totally disrespected.” The Board of Directors was told, in the call to a special meeting on the legislation, that they could not make motions about the bill. The president of UTLA was forced to call a meeting on July 12 of the union’s House of Representatives, the policy-making body of UTLA, by a virtually unprecedented petitioning effort.

The meeting was well-attended, although most members were on vacation. Greatly heightened security measures were taken—members were stopped and questioned prior to being allowed up to the meeting—and the union’s policy to provide dinner for the 6:00 p.m. meeting was not followed. The delegates were about evenly split, though the motion to support the legislation was narrowly approved. A request for a membership vote was made at this meeting but was opposed by the union leadership.

“This bill is going to be a disaster for students, teachers, community and parents in this District. It is not going to bring more funding, and it does not provide any tools to bring about the improvement it promises our schools,” said Ted Weber of Irving Middle School.

Coalition members believe that the demonstration schools, which would be placed under the authority of the “Los Angeles Mayor’s Community Partnership for School Excellence,”—not the Board of Education—may lose class size reduction and other protections which were court-ordered in consent decrees negotiated with the school board. The coalition is concerned with an empowered superintendent, who appears to take over many Board of Education functions such as the ordering of lay-offs, dismissals and collective bargaining, without much public scrutiny and while unduly beholden to the mayor of Los Angeles, since the LA mayor, under AB 1381, can trump the other 26 cities served by LAUSD. Members worry about what effect this will have.

Paul Huebner, UTLA’s political action committee vice chair, said, “This is a crucial issue that will potentially affect all LA teachers, and they all ought to have some say in UTLA’s position on it.”

TAKEOVER LEGALITY DOUBTED: Antonio's plan for LAUSD full of constitutional issues

by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

August 2, 2006 - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school-reform legislation appears to violate the California Constitution, according to city and state legislative authorities.

Documents obtained Wednesday by the Daily News reveal that experts have questioned the legality of transferring authority from the Los Angeles Unified School District to Villaraigosa, which could threaten the future of the mayor's reform bill.

While there is no legal precedent on this issue, state Legislative Counsel Diane F. Boyer-Vine issued a confidential report questioning the constitutionality of transferring "authority or control over educational functions currently performed by a school district to the mayor of a charter city."

The city's chief legislative analyst, Gerry F. Miller, echoed those concerns in his own report to the City Council's Intergovernmental Relations Committee, in which he recommended opposition to the reform measure.
Others said opinions from Boyer-Vine and Miller should not automatically derail Assembly Bill 1381, although its supporters should carefully review its provisions.

"The legislative counsel's opinion does not mean that a court is going to rule that way, but it does not bode well for the legislation," said Bob Stern, director of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "It's one important attorney's opinion, but it does not mean it will be declared unconstitutional. It raises legal questions that an author should consider."

However, Thomas Saenz, the mayor's chief counsel, maintains that the legislation is legally airtight. He said the legislative counsel based her opinion on the original bill, not the working version with many amendments not yet made public.

"There are no guarantees in life, but we've looked at this issue very carefully and we believe that, fully amended, this legislation is immune from a successful (legal) challenge," Saenz said. "The Legislature's expansive power over public education allows it to define the elements of the state's public school system."

AB 1381 would shift substantial power from the elected school board to a superintendent who would be hired by the mayor. The bill also would give the mayor authority over three clusters of the lowest-performing schools, and it would give local educators greater control over a campus budget, curriculum and instruction.

Concerned about the possibility of a legal challenge from the mayors of other cities in the LAUSD, Villaraigosa's office got the bill amended last week to allow the county superintendent of schools to revoke his authority over the three low-performing clusters.

As Los Angeles' legislative analyst, Miller focused his report on protecting the city's interest if the legislation passes.
He recommended that the City Council oppose the bill unless there is language to ensure that the city would not have to use municipal resources in support of the district. He also wants to ensure that the city wouldn't be liable for the mayor's decisions about district operations and that the council would have approval over school sites and joint city-district development projects.

It is his job to raise such issues, Miller said, but it's up to the city attorney or Los Angeles' legislative counsel to study the constitutionality of the bill.

"Our concerns that we expressed and the amendments we recommended go to ensuring that there is a continued separation between school funding and liabilities and city funding, so that the city resources and general fund doesn't end up in a position of liability for actions," Miller said.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's staff has not released an official opinion.

However, two council committees plan a joint meeting Friday to discuss the bill and LAUSD governance, and might vote on the issue.

Villaraigosa himself is holding town-hall meetings on AB 1381, including one set for 4:30 p.m. today at Valley College.

Delgadillo spokesman Jonathan Diamond said an opinion will be issued once the bill is finalized. "When we deliver our opinion to folks, we'll do that in a comprehensive way," Diamond said.

"It's hard to draw a legal conclusion on something that is not in its final form. I don't know when the bill will be in a complete and final-enough form for us to give an accurate reading of it."

Kevin Reed, the chief counsel for the LAUSD, said he believes the current bill is unconstitutional and raises liability issues for the city.

"I certainly think that the city has an undeniable vested interest in this issue since the legislation would put duties on the mayor of Los Angeles that don't appear in the (city) charter," Reed said.

"There are millions of dollars of liabilities that arise associated with running a school district, and they will now fall on the city," Reed said.

"I would think the city attorney would want to be looking into how wise that is, given the fact that the school district as a state agency has certain privileges and immunities in its operation that the city does not enjoy."

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez's AB 1381 is scheduled to be debated by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Aug. 14. More amendments could be announced by then.
Reed said the district has no immediate plans to file suit challenging the legislation, although it has sought the advice of a Sacramento law firm.

"We're doing all of this because of the ambitions of City Hall, not because of what's good government, good education or good law," school board member David Tokofsky said.

SCHOOL-CLUSTER BLUSTER: Mayor's supporters say we should focus on the LAUSD schools he'll take over, but 19 out of 20 district kids won't be affected
EDITORIAL, From the Los Angeles Times

August 3, 2006 - As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to share control of the Los Angeles public schools heads to the Legislature next week, its supporters are emphasizing one provision of the bill in particular: the part that would give Villaraigosa control over about three dozen low-performing schools in the district. It's almost as if they want people to think that's all the bill does. Unfortunately, it does a lot more.

There is little doubt that this provision is the most attractive and comprehensible section of AB 1381. As Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), a friend and political supporter of the mayor, told The Times editorial board Wednesday, the mayor would be able to focus his energy, charisma and political skills — and some of his fundraising prowess — on improving those L.A. Unified schools.

But the schools that the mayor would directly control make up only about 5% of the district's schools, and whatever nice new staffing and supplemental programs they might get would not help the rest of the district's more than 700,000 students. Their schools would stumble along without the added money and attention lavished on the mayor's schools, and they would be governed by one of the clumsier systems ever devised for an educational system.

New versions of the bill make no progress in curing the ills of the original legislation: Responsibilities for hiring, curriculum, budget and contracts would still be parceled out according to a confusing and overly detailed set of rules among the school board, mayor and superintendent (and a few others). The superintendent would have to follow the board's orders — but would depend on the mayor to keep his or her job. The school board would set the budget, but the superintendent would settle lawsuits that could have a major effect on the budget. The superintendent would negotiate most contracts, but the board would negotiate the biggest: the teachers' contract.

Supporters of the bill are eager to stress the importance of the "mayor's schools" as a kind of pilot project, showcasing what the mayor could do if he had real control. No doubt these schools would serve that purpose. But their success would come at the cost of creating a muddled everybody-has-a-piece-of-the-schools management structure for the rest of the district. Doesn't every school deserve the clean lines of accountability that AB 1381 would give some of the district's worst schools?


There were two battling Op-Eds in the Times last week, the ED bemoaning that the Mayor's Plan doesn’t go far enough, the OP a dizzying spin piece from City Hall (or City Halls somewhere) - purportedly authored by the Mayors of Chicago and New York about the wonderfulness of mayoral control under them.

Thanks Your Honors, but no thanks.


And Naush Boghossian's LESSONS TO L.E.A.R.N. IN REFORM OF LAUSD? from the Daily News is a 'those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it' study in how reform doesn't work when you don't follow through ...which LAUSD never does.



by Scott Olin Schmidt |

Aug 4 2006 - One month into Antonio Villaraigosa’s second year as Mayor of Los Angeles, it is become clearer every day just how closely tied his political fortunes are tied to those of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And just like the once-popular Governor, Los Angeles’ charismatic leader appears headed into a sophomore slump.

Political pundits are already pondering a partisan fracas in 2010 between California’s two high-profile Mayors—San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa. For that to happen, however, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger must win re-election and each of these presumptive candidates must avoid falling into a trap which could endanger their political careers.

Like Governor Schwarzenegger, Los Angeles’ Mayor can energize a room just by walking into it—and like Arnold, Antonio has treated governing more like campaigning to a greater degree than any of his predecessors.

For Arnold, that meant rockstar-type rallies in shopping mall food courts were his means to deliver his message; for Villaraigosa, word is his schedule consists of 16-hour days criss-crossing a city that is larger than several countries!

But just like voters grew tired of the Governator’s antics after about a year, Los Angelenos are beginning to grumble about how exactly their Mayor can go about governing the City—let alone the school district as he proposes to reform—when he’s constantly on the move.

And if school reform sounds familiar, it was school reform which did in Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005…and if he is not careful, it may do Mayor Villaraigosa in as well in ’06.

What both Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa have forgotten is that in California, education policy has nothing to do about “the children”. Nope, in California, “education” policy and “education” spending are about protecting and expanding the influence of the teachers’ unions.

Since making school reform a top priority for his administration, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa never quite explained exactly how he planned on fixing Los Angeles’ schools—until his State of the City address earlier this year. In that speech, Antonio laid out a series of improvements to classroom environments, parent involvement and mayoral takeover of the district.

Only the latter—Mayoral control—survived by the time Villaraigosa took his “reform” proposal to Sacramento, however, taking control of the Los Angeles Unified School District away from a Board of Education bought and paid for by the United Teachers of Los Angeles was not in the cards in a State Legislature bought-and-paid-for by the State’s powerful labor movement.

Unlike Schwarzenegger, who would have taken his fight “to the people”, Villaraigosa returned to his M.O. from his days as Assembly speaker—forging a compromise that was so meaningless that no one could object to it. Whilst shuffling the deckchairs between City Hall and LAUSD headquarters, the bill—AB 1831 (Nunez)—did nothing to, you know, actually improve education.

What Villaraigosa did not expect was that billionaire Eli Broad, then an influential business group,* would oppose the watered-down “reform” on account of it doing nothing for the kids.

Now Antonio’s bill is sitting in Sacramento, and the clock is ticking for it to get approved by the State legislature—but there’s a hitch. Republican legislators are calling for a vote to be included in the package—and the Legislative Counsel suggests that one may be needed even before reforms can start.

Antonio remembers what happened when Arnold took on the teachers’ unions and “let the people decide,” and has been reticent to push for a ballot measure on school reform—but he may be forced into a vote, pulling him into the same trap as the Governor. That’s some sophomore jinx!

* For full disclosure, VICA, the business group referenced, is a client of (Schmidt's) company, and the opinions expressed herein are solely (Schmidt's) own.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...

Tuesday, August 8, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Sacred Heart High School Auditorium
2201 Griffin Avenue
Lincoln Heights
Los Angeles, CA 90031

next week:


Monday, Aug 14, 2006 (postponed from Aug 7th)
California State Capitol Room 4203 - 1:30 P.M.

This may be the final opportunity for the public to have input on this legislation.

Buses will be available to take to take parents and parent leaders to Sacramento.

If you are interested call:
(310) 261-2260 • (323) 289-5940
(323) 775-9125 • (323) 422-5201


Map & Directions to Sacred Heart High School

What can YOU do?
►CONTACT YOUR ASSEMBLYPERSON AND STATE SENATOR [link below to find them]. Tell them what you think about their wasting their time, effort and the taxpayer's money on the mayor's attempt at takeover or makeover. Tell them to contact the Senate Appropriations Committee on your behalf.

CONTACT THE SENATE APPRORIATIONS COMMITTEE YOURSELF - AB 1381 is scheduled to be heard on Monday Aug 14th.

• SENATOR KEVIN MURRAY (Chair) (916) 651-4026 Fax (916) 445-8899
• SENATOR SAMUEL AANESTAD (Vice-Chair) 916-651-4004
• SENATOR RICHARD ALARCON (916) 651-4020 Fax (916) 324-6645
• SENATOR ELAINE ALQUIST (916) 651-4013 Fax (916) 324-0283
• SENATOR ROY ASHBURN (916) 651-4018 Fax: (916) 322-3304
• SENATOR JIM BATTIN (916) 651-4037 Fax: (916) 327-2187
• SENATOR ROBERT DUTTON (916) 651-4031 Fax: (916) 327-2272
• SENATOR MARTHA ESCUTIA (916) 651-4030 Fax (916) 327-8755
• SENATOR DEAN FLOREZ (916) 651-4016 Fax (916) 327-5989
• SENATOR DEBORAH ORTIZ (916) 651-4006 Fax (916) 323-2263
• SENATOR GLORIA ROMERO (916) 651-4024 Fax (916) 445-0485
• SENATOR TOM TORLAKSON (916) 651-4007 Fax (916) 445-2527

Staff Director: Bob Franzoia
Consultants: Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, John Decker, Nora Lynn, Mark McKenzie, John Miller and Maureen Ortiz
Assistant: Sally Ann Romo and Krimilda Hodson
Phone: (916) 651-4101
office: Room 2206

►WATCH THE HEARING ON YOUR COMPUTER: The California Channel website ( also offers live and archived webcasts of Legislative proceedings.

►LISTEN TO THE HEARING ON YOUR COMPUTER: To listen to Senate proceedings you need to have speakers and a sound card installed on your computer
plus you need to download Windows Media Player If you don't already have it.
Listed below are the Senate events scheduled for today. If you click on the url below, then on TODAY'S HEARING(s), you will see the committees scheduled today in that room, the time they will meet, and the agenda. You might also want to look at more information about the Committee membership and staff.
Senate hearings and floor sessions do not always start exactly on time so if you hear music when you tune into a location, just be patient and wait for the event to start.


• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think!
Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Vote.


Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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