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Mayor: Fights with LAUSD were 'battle royales'


Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called his fights to gain control of the Los Angeles Unified School District "battle royales."

The fights to gain control of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which stretched from state legislation to a lawsuit and ultimately to the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, were “battle royales,” according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The mayor talked about his efforts to reform the public school system during an evening event at Loyola Marymount University Wednesday. 

“These were battle royales, again, without the power to really effectuate,” the mayor said of his efforts to impact LAUSD. 

In his first term as mayor, Villaraigosa pushed for a state bill that would give him control of LAUSD. The courts later struck down that law, and the mayor created the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.  The Partnership now oversees 22 schools throughout Los Angeles. 

“I’m not in any way satisfied with where we’re at,” Villaraigosa said, after noting that the Academic Performance Index scores at those schools are improving. “We won’t be satisfied until the vast majority -- if not everyone -- of our kids graduate. We won’t be satisfied until L.A. public schools are among the best anywhere in the nation.”

Villaraigosa went on to criticize politicians and school leaders for not doing a better job of connecting money to results and investing in schools. American students are not competing with the rest of the world in a meaningful way, he said.

“That means your sons who went to ‘SC. My daughter who is at ‘SC. My son who was at Princeton. They’re not competing. These kids aren’t competing with the top in the world,” Villaraigosa said to moderator Fernando Guerra of the Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles. Guerra is a member of the board of Southern California Public Radio.

“The kids who are failing, they’re not competing with the bottom in the world. That’s the threat to our democracy and our economy that we’re facing.”

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