Villaraigosa to scold Greuel and Garcetti on education

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a news conference last week on the deck of the battleship Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

A major speech by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will “take to task” the two candidates running to replace him for not making L.A.'s schools a priority on the campaign trail, a spokesman for the mayor said.

Villaraigosa, who is termed out, will give his final State of the City address at UCLA on Tuesday night. According to his spokesman, Peter Sanders, the speech will focus heavily on education reform -- an issue that marked the early years of Villaraigosa’s administration.

“Precious little has been said about how the next mayor will keep L.A. moving forward on the education front,” Sanders said in an email. “He will ask them for a comprehensive vision on education, not just a few sound bites worthy of an attack ad or a mailer.”


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Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel will face off in a runoff election to replace Villaraigosa May 21. While the need for economic growth and the city’s struggling finances have been major themes, neither candidates has announced major plans for schools.

The mayor has no authority over the L.A. Unified School District, but during Villaraigosa’s first term in office, he sought to change that.

He successfully pushed for a new state law that shifted power to his office, but it was quickly blocked by a judge. So he turned to the school board, campaigning against the United Teachers of Los Angeles to elect members aligned with his education policies. He later formed a non-profit organization to take over some of the city’s most challenged schools.

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Villaraigosa supports the so-called “parent trigger,” which allows parents at a low-performing school to force aggressive changes, including handing it over to an outside operator.

Garcetti and Greuel say they both support parent trigger, although Garcetti recently drew attacks from his rival when he said parent trigger “on its own is not going to single-handedly reform education.” Garcetti, who has been endorsed by UTLA, said the city needs to look for tools to improve all schools, “not just those that are the most failing, where the parent trigger may come in.”


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