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[Susan notes: Walt Gardner does a good job of introducing some historic perspective on the issue of mayoral takeover of urban schools.]

Published in LA Weekly

To the editor

Voters here are being fed a whopper in the form of the putative benefits of mayoral control of the LAUSD [“The Takeover King,” May 17–24]. Despite the rhetoric, no credible evidence exists from any other large city that the highly touted approach will improve educational quality to any appreciable degree.

The trend, which began in Boston in 1992, spread to Chicago in 1995, and finally to New York City in 2001. The results in all cases have been mixed. Nevertheless, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa persists in trying to gull voters into believing that Los Angeles will be different. Yet he never gives reasons why.

In fact, the mayor’s proposal represents a 180-degree flip-flop of Progressive Era changes a century ago, when control of schools was wrested from the hands of political bosses. At least under the present system, voters can focus strictly on educational issues. Under mayoral control, schools will be only one consideration at the polls.

Walt Gardner

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