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Ask the L.A. mayor candidates: Would you try to take control of L.A. schools?

Local GovernmentPoliticsElectionsLos Angeles Unified School DistrictAntonio Villaraigosa

During separate video interviews with the Los Angeles Times last month, candidates for L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel responded to questions from individual voters.

Among them is Kim Jones of Silver Lake, who asked: What would you do differently than Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in working with the schools?

Jones, a middle school teacher, wondered if the candidates would try to take control of the board. “What do you think the relationship between city government and the Los Angeles Unified School District should be?”

Here's the video of what Garcetti had to say to Jones.

The answer from Greuel, who responded to Jones’ question in writing, is below:

As an LAUSD graduate, and the mother of an LAUSD student, this is a personal issue for me. This is why as Mayor I will make every decision as a parent -- not a politician. I have a lot of respect for the work Mayor Villaraigosa has done around education reform. I plan to continue and expand this work, like the Partnership Schools of Los Angeles which have shown incredible academic growth for students.

I also believe strongly that we need to elect school board members that put the needs of our children first and I plan to make sure I support the campaigns of these candidates. 

But I also believe very strongly that if we empower parents, teachers and the principal of a school, and we allow them to break away from the bureaucracy and make their decisions at the local level, you can prompt tremendous academic gains.

I saw this take place at my son’s school, Colfax Elementary, when we converted to an affiliated charter which allowed us to hire our next principal and make other curriculum and calendar decisions locally.

My education plan includes efforts to ensure that we break up the bureaucracy, and that we spend most of our money in the classroom. As Mayor I will call for an audit of LAUSD to see exactly where our money is going, but I will also continue to advocate for more funding.

Currently California is 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending -- this is unacceptable and I will do everything I can to change this.

Finally, I will also work on student safety at our schools. I will revitalize our Safe Passages to School program, I will work with Sacramento and LAUSD to enact legislation that requires strict background checks and detailed investigations of ALL sexual abuse reports, and I’ ll partner with the district to launch stricter guidelines to fight against bullying.

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Twitter: @LATimesCityGov

bill.nottingham@latimes.com

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