The Big Takeover
Voters here are being fed a whopper in the form of the putative benefits of mayoral control of the LAUSD [“The Takeover King,” May 17–24]. Despite the rhetoric, no credible evidence exists from any other large city that the highly touted approach will improve educational quality to any appreciable degree.
The trend, which began in Boston in 1992, spread to Chicago in 1995, and finally to New York City in 2001. The results in all cases have been mixed. Nevertheless, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa persists in trying to gull voters into believing that Los Angeles will be different. Yet he never gives reasons why.
In fact, the mayor’s proposal represents a 180-degree flip-flop of Progressive Era changes a century ago, when control of schools was wrested from the hands of political bosses. At least under the present system, voters can focus strictly on educational issues. Under mayoral control, schools will be only one consideration at the polls.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells us that “change is never comfortable.” Yet his proposed takeover is not really a change. He is merely replacing one vast, sprawling bureaucracy with another. In addition, we’ve already had one mayoral attempt at a hostile takeover, namely Richard Riordan, whose hand-picked board merely hired a new layer of reformers, consultants and bureaucrats, who were far more interested in raising their salaries and promoting their own agenda than in the needs of students.
In the meantime, many teachers in LAUSD face working conditions that are straight out of Kafka: too many students with too many problems, many of which are beyond the power of the classroom teacher to solve or remedy. Worse, teachers are blamed for everything from dropout rates to test scores. Is it any wonder teachers, and their representatives, UTLA and CTA, are skeptical? Perhaps, for the time being, or at least until he can differentiate between a percentage and a percentile, Villaraigosa should try to run L.A. before he attempts to run LAUSD.
William Joseph Miller
Your description of the Democratic primary in the 36th congressional district [“The Abolitionist and the Whig,” May 19–25] would be more accurate if titled “The Sober and the Sophomoric.”
In all my years in and around Democratic politics, I’ve never heard a challenging candidate say to the press that the opponent is either hated or reviled! Such over-the-top, emotional outbursts have no place in choosing a responsible candidate for the United States House of Representatives.
More importantly, why is the Winograd challenge even relevant? What polling data exist that shows she’s even a serious threat to Mrs. Harman? Winograd’s negative and bombastic strategy to embarrass Harman at every turn does little to help Democrats win a majority of seats come November to beat the real enemy — the Republican-controlled House!
Primaries are not to be confused with cannibalism!
What makes the challenge all the more disturbing is that those who paint Mrs. Harman as some right-wing extremist seem to forget it was Harman who won this seat for Democrats in the toughest of times, while bringing the seat back into the Democratic column a second time after defeating a one-term Republican, Steve Kuykendall, in 2000.
Once again we have hysterical liberalism receiving a free pass for conduct unbecoming a serious campaign for public office.
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Light the Lights
The off-Broadway Abingdon Theater Company has committed to open its ’07-’08 main-stage season with a play by L.A. Weekly theater editor Steven Leigh Morris. The noirish mystery, set in Hollywood, is called Beachwood Drive, and deals with white slavery. The play is slated to open in September ’07.
Dwayne Booth, a.k.a. Mr. Fish, has been chosen as a finalist in the L.A. Press Club’s Southern California Journalism Awards in the Editorial Cartoon category for two different cartoons. That means he’ll be competing against himself as well as three other cartoonists. With these nominations, the Weekly now has 15 finalists in the Press Club Awards.