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LA Times gives Villaraigosa ‘medium chance’ to succeed Cortines

Craig Clough | November 4, 2015

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Former LA Mayor Antonio Villarigosa

The Los Angeles Times today listed former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as having a “medium chance” of becoming a finalist for the job of next superintendent of LA Unified.

As the district’s search moves into a phase for identifying potential finalists, the story features a list of 43 possible candidates, based on what it called “interviews with insiders, civic leaders and experts.”

Among those who could be finalists, the paper includes 13 as having a “high chance” and 24 as having a “medium chance.” Another 6 are given a “low chance,’ which makes one wonder why they are included, at all.

The list is likely to turn quite a few heads as some of the people named are prominent leaders of charter school organizations or the reform movement. Hiring another reform leader, such as former Superintendent John Deasy, would be a rapid departure from public statements and sentiments expressed by a majority of the LA Unified school board.

After the recent announcement by the Broad Foundation that it intends to lead a $490 billion expansion that would reduce the ranks of the LA teachers union, UTLA, a majority of the board — as reported by the LA Times — expressed strong opposition to it and left little ambiguity as to their views. On a seven person board, four would be needed to vote in a new superintendent.

Yet, despite the strong statements against the proliferation of charter schools, many of the candidates listed by the Times are strong supporters of charter expansion. The story also comes on the heels of a critical Washington Post story that called out the Times for having a potential conflict of interest by allowing its “Education Matters” section to be funded by a number of prominent education reform advocates, including Eli Broad.

The board members who expressed strong opposition to the Broad plan — President Steve ZimmerScott Schmerelson, Monica Ratliff and George McKenna — were all endorsed by UTLA in their elections to the board, making their vote for a pro-Broad plan candidate the equivalent of a betrayal to their teacher union supporters.

In LA, few political leaders are more aligned with the pro-charter school reform movement than Villaraigosa. The former mayor tried to take over the district and strip the board of its power, and he’s a Vergara lawsuit supporter who has endorsed the Broad plan. Some political observers say he has his eye on running for governor in 2018.

Other candidates on the Times list like Ana PonceValeria S. Silva and Kaya Henderson have strong ties to charter schools or the reform movement and are listed in the “high” or “medium” chance category.

Although named as having a “low chance,” the Times rasied the possibility for Marshall Tuck and Caprice Young who are among the most prominent names in the California reform movement. John King, who co-founded a charter school, is also is on the list even though he was recently named by President Obama to follow Arne Duncan as the next U.S. secretary of education in December.

Another candidate with a “medium chance,” according to the Times, is former US Attorney General Eric Holder, while Rep. Xavier Becerra and Sec.of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro are given “high” chances.





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