California Governor Signs Los Angeles School Reform Bill Into Law

LOS ANGELES – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed AB 1381, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s legislation to fundamentally reform the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The law gives Villaraigosa substantial authority over the district.

The plan would shift the power to budget, contract and select personnel to the superintendent. A council dominated by Villaraigosa would ratify the selection of the superintendent and have input regarding LAUSD’s budget.

  “With this bill, schools with the biggest problems can get the most attention and direct oversight by the mayor, so he can focus on what counts – moving test scores up and dropout rates down,” said Schwarzenegger.

“The children of Los Angeles are the real winners here,” Speaker of the California Assembly Fabian Núñez said. “We have worked to strike a solid balance between the needs of the LA school district, the teacher’s union and the steps that must be taken to improve school achievement and create a brighter future for our children.”

AB 1381 was backed by a broad-based group of business, education andcommunity leaders in Los Angeles.

The guiding principle behind AB 1381 is the belief that to successfully improve student achievement, raise the graduation rate and close achievement gaps, the LAUSD must be fundamentally reformed. Supporters of the law believe the governance structure outlined in AB 1381 will be the vehicle for achieving that fundamental reform by bringing in new leadership, creating greater accountability, empowering educators and parents, and giving local leaders a voice in their local schools.

Opponents of AB 1381, however, say the law is “horrible public policy” that puts political interests above the needs of students. They are expected to file a lawsuit later this week to thwart or delay the plan.

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