TQB reported last month how, having failed in his legal battle to take over the LA Unified School District, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had won de facto control of the school board the old fashioned way: raising campaign money for key allies on the board so that they now constitute a majority. And if he can't control the system, his new strategy seems to be taking over schools one at a time.
Or actually two at a time. Beginning in fall 2008, the mayor will oversee two of the city's lowest performing high schools-- to be named later--and the elementary and middle schools that feed them. The mayor won't actually run the schools; a non-profit will be created and paid by the district to do that. The nonprofit will also help spread "successful practices"--also to be named later--across the district.
The Los Angeles teachers union wants two-thirds of the teachers at any school to agree before the school is selected. According to President A.J. Duffy, anything less amounts to a "hostile takeover," even though only a simple majority is required to convert to a charter school. The mayor hasn't agreed to the two-thirds demand, but he has said that a "significant number" of teachers, parents and community members will need to be on board.
It's hard to see how the two at a time approach is ever going to scale up to any kind of systemic reform, but time will tell. Mayor Fenty, Mayor Bloomberg, you should be expecting a call...