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Spending his capital

first_img As Villaraigosa noted, the education establishment has opposed breaking up the district, it’s opposed charter schools, it’s opposed vouchers, it’s opposed small learning centers. It opposes everything, while supporting nothing – except the status quo. Villaraigosa insists that won’t do. He’s prepared to wage “the most expensive campaign” in city history to change the way our schools work – for the benefit of our kids, our families and our future. And if he does that, he’ll be more than just a celebrity in Los Angeles. He’ll be a hero.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Villaraigosa is no enemy of the education establishment. He has worked for the teachers union, and as state Assembly speaker, he pushed for more school funding. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be critical about what’s going on in the LAUSD. “I will not accept the status quo, and neither should you,” Villaraigosa said. It’s inexcusable, he argued, that half of all LAUSD students drop out without graduating, or that so many of those who do graduate lack basic academic skills. His solution, he says, is “not about mayoral control, it’s about public accountability.” He doesn’t want to run the district per se, but he does want to appoint school board members. That way, the mayor will be directly accountable to the people for the state of our schools. This is not a message that will go over well with Los Angeles school board members, education unions or LAUSD administrators. Tellingly, board member Julie Korenstein was so bent out of shape by Villaraigosa’s remarks that she stormed out of the room before he finished speaking. But that’s OK. The people are on Villaraigosa’s side, and if he moves forward with his ambitious plans, that’s where they’ll stay. L.A. voters are fed up with a bloated education bureaucracy that resists all change. In a town full of celebrities, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems to outshine them all. Wherever he goes, throngs of cameras and well-wishers follow. He has the people’s trust and support, and he has the city’s power-brokers all lined up on his side. He has more political capital than a politician could ever ask for. The question is, what will he do with all that political capital? In an address to San Fernando Valley business leaders last week, he made it clear: He plans to restore accountability, credibility and hope to the Los Angeles Unified School District. He couldn’t have picked a nobler or more important goal. last_img read more