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Greuel Speech Includes Strong School Reform Language

Hillel Aron | April 3, 2013

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On Tuesday, Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel launched what LA Weekly‘s Gene Maddaus is calling a “reboot” of her campaign, delivering a speech with a meaty education section that included strong support for “reform” ideas like charter schools and rigorous teacher evaluations.

“I will fight to reform our public schools,” she said, according to text of the speech e-mailed to reporters. “We cannot accept where we are today – where 10 percent of our schools are responsible for 50 percent of the dropouts.”

The speech marks something of a watershed moment for Greuel. While the candidate had previously said she was in favor of the parent trigger process and School Board President Monica Garcia, Tuesday’s speech exhibited much stronger language than anything we saw in the Primary.  And it is a smart move, according to USC professor Dan Schnur.

Schnur, the Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said the newly aggressive stance on education is a smart move by Greuel for two reasons:

“This is an issue that can help Greuel with two key target demographics,” he said. “It can help bring in the San Fernando Valley — thanks to the Kevin James endorsement of Garcetti, that’s now contested turf. And it helps her in minority communities.”

Schnur also said aligning herself with ed reformers would help distance her from the public employee unions.

“Greuel’s greatest challenge in this campaign is convincing Valley voters and other moderates that although she’s supported by labor, she’s not beholden to them,” continued Schnur. “This is a very effective way of sending that message to voters.”

Greuel enjoys the support of most of the major unions, including the SEIU, the IBEW and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The IBEW spent heavily on her Primary campaign, through its PAC, Working Californians.

Garcetti, meanwhile, was endorsed by the teachers union, although they declined to spend any money on his behalf and his relationship with UTLA has gotten a bit complicated.

Garcetti surprised some by voicing support for the parent trigger at the United Way Education Summit in February. That spurred UTLA Vice President Gregg Solkovits to speak critically of Garcetti at a County Fed endorsement meeting, according to Gene Maddaus. A source within UTLA said that some members were none too pleased with Solkovits’ comments.

“If a school fails to improve and remains on this list of under performers three years in a row, it is time for a change,” said Greuel yesterday. “And yes, that means parent triggers, charter school, and holding LAUSD schools accountable.”

The speech comes more than a week after Greuel hired a new campaign manager, Janelle Erickson, who in addition to being a former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (as well as, previously, Greuel herself), was serving as the spokesperson to the Coalition for School Reform, which spent over $3 million to elect reform candidates to the School Board in the March 5 primary.  There’s no word yet on Robinson’s replacement.

Previous posts: UTLA Official Kneecaps Mayoral Candidate GarcettiGarcetti Praises Reform StrategiesMayoral Candidate Greuel Supports Garcia, Parent Trigger

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