An Open Letter to the Next Mayor of Los Angeles

May 6, 2013

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An Education To-do List

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been called the "Education Mayor," because he made it such a key priority for his administration. Will LA's next Mayor do the same? We believe education is such a critical issue for the future of Los Angeles that every LA Mayor must be an "Education Mayor." Education may be outside the Mayor's formal job description - the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board has primary responsibility for overseeing LA's public schools - but the Mayor has a critical role to play.

We are pleased that LA's mayoral candidates are having a debate focused on education on May 7th and will listen with interest to what they have to say.

Here are some ways we hope LA's next mayor will use the role to push for great public schools:

  • Stand up for parent empowerment and choice. Too many people let adult agendas get in the way of the only thing that should truly matter: the right of every parent to have the choice to send their child to a high quality public school in their own neighborhood. Be tireless in supporting parents, and reject those who would do anything to interfere with that right. Support increased funding for parent engagement, increased educational options for families, and increased transparency about what's at stake. Parents should have a variety of quality educational options in their neighborhood.

  • Use your bully pulpit. Be courageous in standing up against the status quo and pushing for great public schools for all students. Keep up the urgency and insist on accountability at all levels. Push for meaningful teacher and principal evaluations, and robust reforms to the tenure and dismissal process. Advocate strongly for teacher supports. Without exception, every student must have an excellent teacher in every classroom and an excellent principal in every school.

  • Leverage city resources to support schools. L.A.'s Best and the Mayor's Partnership are great examples of how smart partnerships between the city and the school district can benefit all Angelenos. We want to see more of this - from health clinics on school sites to student internships with the city to joint projects that can draw down federal monies - be creative and make it happen.

  • Push Sacramento for more, equitable funding for our public schools and more funding for quality early childhood education and supports. Governor Brown's Local Control Funding Formula proposes major changes to how our schools are funded. As that proposal is debated in the legislature, the Mayor of LA should be front and center representing LA's most disadvantaged neighborhoods to make sure that state funds are not only directed to the students that need them the most, but that they are truly used to support those students. The Mayor should be a strong voice in making the case that economists have made: investing in early education and early intervention is the best economic development strategy at our disposal.

  • Build bridges on behalf of children. So many different organizations and individuals have a stake and a role to play in improving public education in Los Angeles. As Mayor, you can bring people together and keep up the urgency to leverage our collective energy. We need you to be the voice for children.

A lot of progress has been made by dozens of school board members and previous mayors and Superintendent John Deasy continues to push forward on this important work. We hope LA's next mayor will continue to be a champion for students. When it comes to education policy, there may be plenty to debate, but whether education should be a key priority for LA's mayor should not be.

Signed by:
The Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), Angelica M. Solis, Executive Director
Families in Schools (FIS), Oscar Cruz, President and CEO
Families That Can, Corri Ravare, Executive Director
United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Elise Buik, President and Chief Executive Officer

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