Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad sent Mayor Villaraigosa a letter critical of the mayor's schools compromise for muddying the control issues. Broad's foundation has provided key aides to Villaraigosa's staff and funded education reform efforts, but he opposes the mayor's deal to share power over the Los Angeles Unified School District with the Board of Education, teachers unions and a Council of Mayors. AB 1381, which would give legal authority to the compromise, is working its way through the Legislature, with uncertain prospects of passage. The Times' Duke Helfand and Joel Rubin report that Broad's letter reflects discomfort within the business community:
Broad made it clear that he was unhappy with the bill, saying in a letter to Villaraigosa that "true mayor control of the Los Angeles Unified School District is vital for the future of our city."
"It is regrettable that you did not want to wage a campaign for true mayoral control, but rather saw fit to negotiate with UTLA and CTA," Broad wrote in a letter dated June 30.
"I regret that I cannot support, in its present form, the bill that was passed by the Senate Education Committee" last month, Broad wrote. "If significant changes are not made, we may be better off having the bill fail."
Moreover, Broad said that the superintendent must have complete control over the hiring and firing of principals and that teacher contracts should be negotiated outside the "union-controlled school board."
A Villaraigosa spokesman defended the legislation, saying it "represents the best chance for fundamental reform of our schools."
But the mayor's chief of staff, Robin Kramer, said that Villaraigosa continues to entertain suggestions from business leaders, union officials, parent representatives and others who want a say over the new governance structure. The mayor and Broad have not discussed the letter, Kramer said.
Kramer ran Broad's foundation before she took over as CoS for Villaraigosa. An unidentified business leader who is quoted says the Villaraigosa model negotiated with the unions "looks unmanageable." The latest version gives the mayors of the 27 cities served by the LAUSD power over hiring and firing the superintendent of schools, the Times says.
Mayor adds schools heft