Fact-Checking Villaraigosa’s Schools Record
Hillel Aron | July 3, 2013
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The best part of the LA Times’ recent exit interview with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is that education reporters Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe also published an annotated version of the full transcript — at Villaraigosa’s request.
And the best parts of the transcript are Blume and Watanabe’s footnotes — see examples above — which betray no small amount of skepticism for many of the former Mayor’s claims around improved graduation rates, school turnarounds, and transparency.
For example, the Times notes that Villaraigosa’s claim that the LAUSD graduation was, early in his tenure, around 50 percent was based on a different method than used by the state. It also differs from the method used to arrive at the current graduation rate, which is said to be 66 percent.
“If the mayor’s former method were used today, L.A. Unified’s current graduation rate would drop from 66% to 53%,” writes Blume and Watanabe.
But perhaps the best footnote of all comes from the Mayor’s claim that he just had two meetings, one with Steve Zimmer — a Board Member he’d tried desperately to unseat earlier this year — and a group of “education reform leaders.” Despite inquiries from the Times, Villaraigosa wouldn’t reveal their identities.
Even when the Times did a Public Records Act Request, the Mayor’s staff submitted a calendar with the names of the “education reform leaders” blacked out — redacted as if they were high-level terrorists. Blume and Watanabe explain:
“[T]he mayor insisted that this disclosure was so harmful to the public interest that it outweighed his legal obligation to provide the required public information.”
Previous posts: An Unbalanced Breakfast for Mayors Villaraigosa & Garcetti; Differing Views of Villaraigosa Education Record; Mayor Overreached Against Zimmer, Says Reformer; Zimmer Irate Over Reform Coalition Attacks