VICA (the Valley Industry and Commerce Association) is the one San Fernando Valley business group that seems to have some clout downtown. Its board voted today to oppose AB 1381, the bill that would put in place the school reform compromise that Mayor Villaraigosa negotiated with the teachers unions. The Valley group previously advocated break-up of the LAUSD and says the deal cut in Sacramento last month doesn't do enough. Its letter to the mayor, though, does congratulate him for putting "a lot of thought" into the matter. Snippet from the letter after the jump:
Based on the comments from our members and other business leaders, here are some potential areas of agreement in the current form of AB 1381:
Removing school board members from certain decisions related to construction and contract negotiations.
Giving the mayor a seat on the superintendent selection committee.
Allowing teachers, parents and other stakeholders to have a say in some (not all) decisions related to curriculum and text books.
Consequently, here are some issues in AB 1381 of which we do not see eye to eye:
Direct mayoral control over underperforming clusters of schools does not necessarily require an act of legislation. As we see it, we do not think anything is preventing a mayor from running any campuses as charter schools if the parents so desired with approval from the school board. It is unfortunate the leadership of the teachers unions is so uncompromising on charter schools.
Decision making by a council of mayors (some of whom do not even have any constituents enrolled in LAUSD, and only one city is located in the ValleyLos Angeles), in our view, does not increase accountability. LAUSD needs fewer decision makers, not more.
Most objectionable to VICA, however, is the absence in AB 1381 of a mechanism for LAUSD parents and voters to at some point determine the fate of the school district through a public vote.
Again, VICA appreciates your bold decision to address education reform as your top priority as mayor. Many of us in the business community were optimistic that the tack you were taking on mayoral control (or increased influence through participation on the school board) was the tack we would ultimately support. We find it unfortunate that the reluctance of enough legislators to support such changes and the influence of the teachers’ unions in Sacramento to bend made it impossible for any inclusion in AB 1381 of meaningful reforms such as a significantly increased role by the mayor and/or a path toward a local vote on breakup. VICA stands prepared to work with you in good faith on our common goals of true education reform for the benefit of students before the needs of any other interested party.