Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mayor Villaraigosa facing 'stiff resistance' to LA Schools takeover attempt; White Flight from SF Schools - nothing new?

LA Mayor Villaraigosa is now facing stiff opposition in Sacramento to his takeover plans for the LA Unified School District. From yesterday's LA Times:
"A lot of people up here are former school board members who don't want to see a mayor take over the district," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), who served on the Los Angeles school board and now chairs the lower
house's Education Committee." The mayor is going to force the issue, and it's not going to be a good thing." Such objections reflect the difficult road ahead for Villaraigosa, who has made the takeover of Los Angeles schools the centerpiece of his young administration and staked much of his political capital on winning that fight.

This morning's Times also reported:

In Los Angeles, the mayor's takeover plan took a drubbing at a special hearing called by the Los Angeles Board of Education. ...Either implicitly or explicitly, all of the speakers warned against a mayoral takeover in Los Angeles. ...Carmen Colon, a parent from Brooklyn who is president of the Assn. of New York City Education Councils, warned that the school takeover by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had marginalized parents with a relatively rivial advisory role." All I can say to you is, it's your city, it's your school, it's your child, and don't let them forget that," she said. Ismail Vargas, assistant director of a parent group in Chicago, said the school takeover in his city by Mayor Richard M. Daley had resulted in a more aloof, less responsive school system.

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The SF Chronicle is running a weeklong series on San Francisco schools, with a focus largely on white middle class parents' fears' of public schools. Little context is given by the several reporters for the history of 'white flight' and more modern middle class flight from SF and other urban school districts.
The reports also do little to explain the complexity of how urban school parents and students and civil rights groups have historically fought for equity and social justice to ensure an equal opportunity for all students while other parents have abandoned the public school system. The reporters unfortunately frame their pieces to the Chronicle's mainstream audience who are eating up the articles as if they reveal some kind of great insights into the minds of the parents who 'reluctantly choose private schools'.

Responding to a few parents concerns regarding desegregation plans and student assignments for their children, I have always tried to put it out there that we, as School Board members, have to approach our often difficult policy making role with a sense of social and educational justice.


I don't think anyone on the school board wants a 'race-based' assignment system or a 'hard line'approach to this, and we all know [i think] the courts will only allow the use of race [or ethnicity] if it is used as some kind of assignment 'tie-breaker' or one of a number of factors used together to get at ethnicity, socio-economic background, [or other] various privileges or disadvantages, etc.
I agree that we have to balance the interests of various types of parents. But it seems to me that our assignment system, like our previous desegregation efforts from the 60's to the present, have to be driven by our concerns for equity and social justice for the students that lack an 'equal opportunity to learn'. [Of course] we have to also be concerned about the continuing white and middle class flight. [But] I think it is wrong to blame that flight historically on civil rights advocacy and folks fighting for educational justice for communities of color and lower income neighborhoods or on a system that was doing its best to try to address the needs of the disenfranchised. But I do think remedies that have been crafted by our lawyers over the years, usually behind closed doors, have not involved enough parent and community based organizations, with the exception of the NAACP. We have to change that.
Many reluctantly choose private schools By Heather Knight/San Francisco Chronicle
Diversity eludes private schools' push to reach outDespite scholarships, 'welcoming' attitude, nonwhite kids are rare sight on campusBy Heather Knight/San Francisco Chronicle
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For more on Villaraigosa and his LAUSD takeover efforts [from the great Just Schools California new roundup site by UCLA's IDEA:

Mayor, Foes Scrap Again Over Schools
By Duke Helfand & Mitchell Landsberg/Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - The struggle over the future of the Los Angeles public schools played out Tuesday in dueling lobbying campaigns across the state. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pitched his district takeover plan to impassive labor leaders in the state capital, as disgruntled parents in Los Angeles warned the school board about the shortcomings of mayoral control.

Antonio, Romer go to war Both rally allies in LAUSD takeover bid
By Naush Boghossian & Harrison Sheppard/Los Angeles Daily News
The fight for control of Los Angeles Unified escalated Tuesday, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lobbying union and business leaders in Sacramento and the district flying in opponents of takeover efforts from around the country. Los Angeles Unified - which already has hired a public relations firm to promote its agenda - spent $1,500 to fly in parents from New York City, Chicago and Detroit - who will meet today with parent groups in Los Angeles and encourage them to fight mayoral takeover.

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