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LA 2020 Commission calls for ‘bold steps’ to improve LAUSD

Michael Janofsky | April 9, 2014

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imagesAn LA City Council commission charged with providing a blueprint for the future of the city released its second report today, this one offering recommendations to move Los Angeles toward fiscal solvency and greater job creation.

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission’s report, “A Time for Action,” largely focuses on issues related to jobs, budgets and transportation. But it also has a few critical words to say about public education even though the Los Angeles Unified School District is outside the purview of city government.

In its overarching view, the commission found, “Public education falls far short of the mark, yet there continues to be a lack of support in the community for the bold steps that need to be taken to prepare kids in our community to succeed.”

It further concludes, “We cannot continue to fail to educate so many of our young people. Our community must begin to recognize education is the civil rights issue of our time, and do more, much more, to support those working to bring about meaningful change in our public education system.”

LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy declined to comment on the report.

Linking education to future jobs, the report says LA Unified needs to improve educational outcomes to prepare its students for family-sustaining employment. While citing recent progress in lowing drop-out rates and improving academic achievement, it nonetheless asserts that, “Bold steps need to be taken, starting with a hard look at where accountability lies for our public education system. Our current approach is not acceptable – a part-time, elected school board (elected by less than 20% of adults in our community) overseeing a $7+ billion enterprise does not make sense.”

The report implicitly suggests that the school system might fare better under mayoral control, an effort that former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried, and failed to achieve. Characterizing LA Unified’s current governance structure as “prone to crisis, turnover and inconsistency,” the report notes that other cities have made more assertive efforts to control their public school systems.

“Cities in other regions across the country have either moved to mayoral control or clarified and strengthened the role of the Board and improved their Board’s working relationship with school administrators to try and establish accountability.”

The commission was established last year by City Council President Herb Wesson, who recruited Mickey Kantor, a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, to lead an independent study of fiscal stability and job growth in Los Angeles. The panel’s first report, “A Time for Truth,” was released in December and painted a bleak picture of city on a downward arc.

The latest report includes specific measures to “enhance transparency and accountability in City Hall, put Los Angeles on a path toward fiscal stability and renew job creation in the region.”


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