Los Angeles mayor gives State of the City address

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News:


image Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised to focus on education reform at the annual State of the City address on Wednesday.

“Well, it is true that I don’t have any formal authority over our schools,” Villaraigosa said. “I do have a bully pulpit, and I will continue to use it.”

Villaraigosa called for a shift in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He says school leaders are the most important agent for change and that expiration of union contracts in June could open up a new door.

“With the stars aligned, we have to seize the opportunity,” Villaraigosa said. “Let’s negotiate a new contract that empowers teachers, parents and principals at all schools. Let’s stop dictating at the district level, and let our local schools make the calls on budget, staffing, curriculum, schedule and professional development.”

The mayor also proposed compensating teachers for their proven effectiveness in the classroom.

“We need to create career pathways that reward our most effective teachers,” Villaraigosa said. “We need to reform a broken tenure system and do away with the last hired, first fired seniority system. It’s demoralizing to teachers, and it doesn’t serve our students. We need to create a multiple level evaluation system.”

But Dr. Aissa Riley, a world history teacher at Jefferson High School, opposes the mayor’s proposal.

“What that equates to in our mind is we get rid of the more senior teachers because they get paid a lot more,” Riley said. “So if a teacher’s making $80,000 because they’ve been working here for 20 years, well, we can fire that person and hire two more.”

Dr. Riley also expressed concerns regarding the prospect of more public-private partnerships. She said the private school operators do not accept all students.

“So what happens is when a student isn’t working out at one of their schools, they get sent here (Jefferson),” Riley said. “And we end up having larger class sizes in the middle of the year because all these students are coming mid-year because they’ve been kicked out of their other schools, and it also has a lot of students who if they couldn’t cut it at the other school, now we have to deal with him. Our school somewhat becomes a dumping ground for all these charter schools quote unquote bad kids. And then it lowers the quality of education for other students who we’ve been working with all year long.”

Villaraigosa used the rest of his State of the City speech to address unemployment rates. He noted that unemployment rates in South Los Angeles dropped from last month. He also praised the America Fast Forward plan – a plan that would create 166,000 new jobs in the city.

Speak Your Mind