Please come to Boston

The editorial page writers at the Los Angeles Times see trouble in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plans to take over L.A.'s fractured school system. But rather than blasting his ideas, they take readers on a journalistic tour of Boston, where mayoral control has improved the city's schools (although they're still far from perfect). Consider Richard J. Murphy Elementary School--a high-minority, high-poverty institution that features uniforms and a results-oriented principal. Oh, and 70 percent of its alums enter Boston's elite "exam schools," reserved for those who get top scores on entrance exams. "Murphy has benefited from an unfettered mayor...a strong superintendent...and an empowered and talented principal," the Times's editors wrote. Villaraigosa's plan, by comparison, would put everyone--and thus no one--in control, do nothing to limit the power of the  unions, and leave curriculum choices to educators in individual schools. Villaraigosa has already visited both Chicago and New York to observe those city's education mayors. But judging from his less-than-admirable actions since those trips, perhaps a trip to the home of the bean and the cod would set him right. But the mayor doesn't seem likely to embrace any change of his muddled plan, and those who should be advocating for such change have, unfortunately, acquiesced to Villaraigosa's compromises. Who loses? L.A.'s kids.

"Learning From Boston: A Bad School Made Good," Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2006