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Chicago Public Library

Turning the city of L.A. into a classroom

Turning the city of L.A. into a classroom

Under the Los Angeles city charter, the mayor has no formal power over the Los Angeles Unified School District. But this has not stopped mayors — including Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa — from using the bully pulpit and the power of office. With his recent appointment of veteran Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana as his deputy for education, Mayor Eric Garcetti has signaled that he, like his predecessors, is going to take a keen interest in education.

However, instead of using all of his political energy on the school district, Garcetti and the city would be further ahead by connecting schooling to out-of-school learning, making Los Angeles a more...