Steve Barr in photo by Kris Krug on Flickr via LA Weekly.
Add Green Dot Charter Schools founder Steve Barr to the menu of candidates that might run against Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2017. Barr told the LA Weekly that he is frustrated by Garcetti's hands-off approach to public education. Barr is 56 and lives in Silver Lake and is well known in education circles from his work with Green Dot. Today's LA Times story is a follow to the Weekly story by Gene Maddaus:
In an interview, Barr said he has been disappointed with Garcetti's lack of leadership on education. Barr worked closely with Garcetti's predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, during his effort to take control of the L.A. Unified School District in 2005.
"We had some positive movement that came out of that, but our current mayor isn't paying attention at all to it," Barr said, saying he has heard that Garcetti does not want to get drawn into a fight between reformers and the teachers union. "It's kind of icky to him."
The mayor has no formal authority over the school district, though Villaraigosa was able to take control of 16 low-performing schools through the Partnership for L.A. Schools, a privately funded non-profit. Garcetti has been comparatively quiet on the issue.
Barr argued that education is a central concern, and relates to many of the other issues facing the city, from crime to traffic congestion.
"When you move into a city, the first thing you ask is what are the schools like," Barr said. "It's not, 'How good is the mayor at doing press conferences?'"
Barr says he is still at the deciding stage and having conversations with potential supporters. That's a bit behind Mitchell Schwartz, the former Obama campaign adviser who said earlier this week that he is running for sure. Garcetti has a couple of million dollars banked away for a reelection run in 2017 and will have the power of incumbency behind him, but it's starting to look like he's not scaring away all the potential opposition.