Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mayors and school governance

Antonio Villaraigosa, (D) Mayor of Los Angeles, has proposed having the Mayor’s office take over the governance of the Los Angeles school district in response to the persistent failure of the schools. We in Sacramento went through a parallel cycle of Mayor's strong intervention in schools from 1994-1998. Frankly the "reforms" did not change the schools much.
While there may be some advantages to the Los Angeles Mayor’s proposal, it requires a substantive change in governance.
What could a progressive Mayor do to improve the schools that would not require a constitutional change?

Mayors could deploy police and probation to eliminate gang violence around and near the schools. School safety is a major issue.
Mayors could use their political capital to achieve adequate funding of schools. Note, California has under funded its schools for at least twenty- five years. Mayor Villaraigosa was Speaker of the California Assembly, the body which writes the budget. During his time as Speaker, California did not significantly improve school funding.
Mayors could provide safe after school facilities for recreation and home work help.
Mayors could provide safe and modern buildings for schools rather than over crowded temporary building.
Readers are invited to add to this list.
Duane Campbell
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