AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The seven members of the L.A. school board each cover an enormous amount of territory, and are thus heavily dependent on campaign cash to get elected. More often than not, that means they must rely on the teachers union for donations. So we have a district dominated by a single special interest, in which parents and individual teachers have little input. There is virtually no accountability – failure brings no meaningful consequences, and the bureaucracy operates more or less unchecked. The results speak for themselves: Academic performance well below state and national standards. A dropout rate that hovers around 50 percent. Rampant misspending and dreadful management. True, things have improved under the leadership of Superintendent Roy Romer. He has revamped the LAUSD’s facilities division, and is working at breakneck speed to build 160 new schools. Meanwhile, test scores have shown modest improvements, especially at the elementary-school level. But the improvements have been slow to come about, and Romer has been unable to get the bureaucracy under his control. Moreover, Romer won’t be around forever, and over the past few decades there have been far more bad LAUSD superintendents than good ones. In his fight to assume control over the Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems to have the facts on his side. Although the idea is anathema to the vested interests that rule the LAUSD, mayoral control has proved highly successful in the other major cities that have tried it. In each of those cases – Boston, Chicago and New York – failing bureaucracies and special interests were reined in, while student achievement and efficiency soared. Sounds like exactly what L.A. could use, doesn’t it? It only stands to reason. In Los Angeles, very few residents even know who their representative on the school board is. But under mayoral control, everyone knows who’s in charge, and whom to hold accountable on election day. In a way, Romer’s record makes the case for mayoral control. A former governor and national political party chairman, he brought to the LAUSD a bully pulpit and influence that few other superintendents could match. Mayors, on the other hand, always have that sort of stage. That’s why the mayor of New York, for example, was able to hit up local business leaders for $70 million to open an academy that trains principals. And although New York, Chicago and Boston have only had their schools under mayoral control for the past 10 years or less, the results are encouraging – improved test scores, lower dropout rates, less truancy. When the education lobby gears up to fight Villaraigosa’s plan, it’s going to need more than fear and scare tactics to bolster its position. Because so far, the evidence is on the mayor’s side.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!