Power Struggle in Los Angeles
Mayor Villaraigosa battles the public school bureaucracy
The Los Angeles Unified School District once again finds itself positioned for great things—or grave disappointment. The district has an ambitious building plan, and a tough-talking retired admiral sits in the superintendent’s chair. The legislature passed a bill in 2006 that gives Mayor Villaraigosa greater control over the schools, but a lawsuit holds up his much-heralded plan of action.
Coming off the six-year reign of superintendent (and former Colorado governor) Roy Romer, LAUSD is seeking to win the accolades that Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia have enjoyed in recent years. Journalist Daniel Weintraub thinks it’s unlikely, arguing that the proposed mayoral takeover is so muddled that the future looks bleak for the L.A. schools. Claremont professor Charles Kerchner is cautiously optimistic, seeing a district poised to make dramatic strides in the coming years.