Mayor Villaraigosa Calls for Competition for Los Angeles Schools

Perhaps an indication of how far the school choice debate has moved in the last decade. Perhaps a bellwether for how things are changing in a positive direction away from the public school status quo.

In the Los Angeles Times, Mayor Villaraigosa makes the case for bidding out new Los Angeles schools to school organizations outside of Los Angeles Unified.

For too long, leaders at every level of government have defended a status quo that serves the interests of adults more than children; that gives bureaucrats a near monopoly over public education; that shuts parents out of the conversation; and that, over and over, fails our kids.

It’s time to get past the gatekeepers and stop preserving a system defined by low performance, low standards and low expectations. It’s time to embrace new ideas and reclaim concepts such as accountability and competition, and it’s time to admit the need for more than one educational choice. Put simply, it’s time to put students first.

On Aug. 25, the Los Angeles Board of Education will have the opportunity to take the first real step toward reforming our broken system and transforming our schools. Board member Yolie Flores Aguilar has proposed a measure that would fundamentally change the way we run our schools, giving organizations outside the Los Angeles Unified School District–charter school groups, teacher collaboratives and others — the chance to compete to operate new campuses set to open in fall 2010.

Most significant line by the Mayor:

I recognize that these changes won’t come easily. I know that the voices of dissent — the individuals and institutions that rely on and benefit from the status quo — will try to drown out the calls for reform. But we cannot place the same old failing school system into brand new buildings and expect different results.