FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SACRAMENTO - Taking a bold step towards ushering in reform of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with Speaker Fabian Núñez, Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, Majority Leaders Senator Gloria Romero and Assemblymember Dario Frommer, A.J. Duffy of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and Lynne Faulks of the California Teachers Association (CTA), announced a historic agreement in principle for a comprehensive legislative package ushering in a new era of progressive reform in LA's schools.
"Today we have shown what is possible when you transcend partisan politics and put children first," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "This legislation is the first step toward replacing the culture of complacency with a culture of accountability and shaking up the bureaucracy at the Los Angeles school district."
"We always supported a partnership between the Mayor, the school district, teachers and parents." said A.J. Duffy, President of the UTLA. "This plan builds on core beliefs we share and involves what we know will work for schools, such as local control, parent involvement, and support for schools of greatest need."
"The best school improvement decisions are made when parents, teachers and local communities are involved," said Barbara E. Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association. "CTA supports Los Angeles teachers in building a partnership with the Mayor that includes everyone in the efforts to improve student learning and close the achievement gap in LA schools."
The landmark legislation will be authored by Senator Gloria Romero and Speaker Fabian Núñez and will be introduced in the California State Senate by the end of this week.
Key elements of the proposed legislation to reform the LAUSD will include:
-- Making teachers and parents full partners in the decisions that affect schools.
-- Giving the Superintendent greater authority over personnel, business operations, budgeting, and the facilities program. Empowering a new school leader to cut the bureaucracy and move more resources to schools and classrooms.
-- Preserving the essential powers of the School Board by honing the Board of Education's focus on student achievement.
-- Bringing together cities and the School District by establishing a Council of Mayors responsible for reviewing the budget and coordinating joint-use and campus safety efforts.
-- Ensuring a central role for the Mayor of Los Angeles with the leadership of the LAUSD by granting the Council of Mayors both a role in the selection and final ratification of the Superintendent.
-- Giving greater instructional choice to educators at their school site.
-- Enabling innovation and flexibility by streamlining the process for Los Angeles's schools to receive waivers from the State Board of Education.
-- Establishing a Mayor's Community Partnership for School Excellence. Together with parents, educators and community leaders, the Mayor of Los Angeles will oversee three clusters of the lowest-performing schools.
-- And includes a six-year sunset provision with the opportunity to extend reforms and final evaluations under established education criteria.
The full text of Mayor Villaraigosa's remarks follow:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This morning, I am pleased to announce an agreement in principle to a comprehensive legislative package ushering in a new era of progressive reform in LA's schools. This legislation is the first step toward replacing - once and for all - the culture of complacency with a culture of accountability at LAUSD.
But before I go into the details of our proposal, I want to make one thing absolutely clear:
While the parties to this agreement share the belief that changes in state law are necessary to shake up the bureaucracy at LA Unified, we also know that no bill by itself will change conditions for students in the classroom.
Only parents, teachers, principals and communities can do that.
That's why I believe that the biggest news here today lies in the formation of powerful, new community coalition for change.
Over the last 48 hours, I've met with the governor, the legislature, representatives of teachers and workers, business leaders, and our state's leading education advocates.
We've reached a common consensus that our schools in LA are in a dire state of crisis, and we can't continue to conduct business as usual.
We share the conviction that fixing our schools is the civil rights issue of our time.
We know that California will not prosper if we allow our state's largest school district to languish in mediocrity.
And we agree that it's time to get out from behind our traditional defenses and partisan fortifications* to lock arms, and to try things a new way.
I'm proud to stand today with Speaker Fabian Núñez. He's got the face of a young man, but he leads like an elder statesman. We wouldn't be here today without him.
I want to thank Senate Pro Tem Don Perata. He's provided solid and steadfast leadership, every step of the way.
I want to thank our bill's primary author, Senator Gloria Romero. Nobody--I mean nobody--is more passionate about changing our schools than Senator Romero.
I want to thank Assemblyman Dario Frommer for standing with us early and often.
I want to thank Governor Schwarzenegger for adding his voice on behalf of reform.
And last but certainly not least, I want to salute Barbara Kerr of the California Teachers Association, A.J. Duffy of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and Lynne Faulks of the California Teachers Association.
I want to thank these leaders for coming here today and making an historic commitment to change.
It's been my belief from the first moment I began this effort that we can't improve our schools without the active support of teachers.
I want to thank our teachers for their willingness to stand as leaders.
I've said it many times. Positive change is like childbirth. It's hard. It's painful. But in the end, there's no greater reward in life.
While the legislation we will introduce in the coming days combines significant parts of my original proposal with some new elements, the underlying principles are the same:
We need to cut the bureaucracy, increase accountability, empower educators and parents at the school site, reengineer the system to encourage innovation, and provide a central role for our city leaders in improving our public schools.
Let me give you the broad outline of our proposal:
-- It will provide greater flexibility by streamlining the process for LA's schools to receive waivers from the State Board of Education.
-- By giving the Superintendent greater authority over personnel, business operations, budgeting, and the facilities program, it will empower a new school leader to cut the bureaucracy and move more money to the school site.
-- It will preserve the essential powers of the School Board, but it will hone the Board's focus on student achievement and get them out of the business of micromanagement and political interference.
-- It will give greater instructional choice to educators at the school site.
-- It will bring our cities and school district together by establishing a Council of Mayors responsible for reviewing the budget and coordinating joint-use and campus safety efforts.
-- It will ensure a central role for the Mayor of Los Angeles in the leadership of the LAUSD by granting the Council of Mayors both a role in the selection and the power of ultimate approval in the hiring of a Superintendent.
-- And it will establish a Mayor's Community Partnership for School Excellence. Together with parents, educators and community leaders, the Mayor of LA will oversee three clusters of the lowest-performing schools in the City to demonstrate what we can achieve, when we all work together.
Ladies and gentlemen: I believe that we have shown today that it is possible to transcend partisanship, politics and polarization. It is our job to move forward in this same spirit as we lead these reforms in the legislature, in our communities and, most importantly, in our schools.
I look forward to standing with our coalition partners, and fighting on the same side, to do what's right for our kids.