first_imgNearing his 100th day in office, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared Thursday that he plans to step up efforts to reform Los Angeles schools, with the goal of having full responsibility for education in the city by the end of his first term. “We cannot continue to have a district where 53 percent of our students drop out and only 8 percent are proficient in math and education,” Villaraigosa said at a City Hall news conference as he took stock in advance of completing his first 100 days in office Saturday. In a wide-ranging interview that drew a dozen TV crews and reporters from national news organizations, Villaraigosa also offered a self-assessment in which he said he believes he has helped bring about positive change in the city. “There is an expanding sense of energy and possibility you get in traveling around the city,” Villaraigosa said. “Since I took office, I have put more than 24,000 miles on my car, going to 250 different communities. “I think mayoral control is a step in the wrong direction,” said Duffy, whose union has 48,000 members. “It takes away the citizens’ rights to vote for a school board member who they feel represents their views. “And, if you look at the data, there are mixed results on districts where the mayor is in control.” Villaraigosa said he did not view his move as a mayoral takeover, but rather as taking responsibility for how the schools operate and perform. “Look, we have a major problem with our schools,” Villaraigosa said. “If we don’t fix our schools, this city is going to hell in a handbasket. We need to turn out a work force that can do the jobs of this century. We need to have workers who can support our system.” Duffy said he believes that the mayor and the city can play a role in that, but should focus on services to students. Villaraigosa said he didn’t disagree, and wants to see further expansion of such efforts as L.A.’s Better Educated Students for Tomorrow after-school program. In particular, he said he wants to launch an effort to raise $35 million to make sure all children in the city are part of the Healthy Kids program he authored when he was speaker of the state Assembly. The program is designed to ensure that children don’t miss class because of health issues and that schools promote good health and fitness. “(There) are kids who qualify for the program but haven’t applied for it,” Villaraigosa said. “I want to make sure their parents know about (it) and that we raise the money to cover them.” The mayor said he plans to reach out to philanthropic groups and individuals and, if need be, will start his own fundraising drive to raise money for the effort. He said he also has taken more seriously the need to deal with homeland security issues as a result of the July subway bombings in London and that that, along with hiring more police officers, remains his top city issue. “We will hire 359 new officers this year and I am planning to hire even more next year,” Villaraigosa said. As part of marking his 100 days in office, Villaraigosa is holding a citywide day of service with the help of individual City Council offices and is asking residents to volunteer to clean up areas around six high schools Saturday, including North Hollywood High. The mayor’s nominees to the Planning Commission – subject to City Council confirmation – include former Councilman Mike Woo, who represented the Hollywood area from 1985 to 1993. Other nominees are Jane Usher of Hancock Park, architect Bill Roschen of Mount Washington, Occidental College professor Regina Freer of South Los Angeles, architect Robin Hughes of Mount Washington, the Rev. Spencer Kezios of Northridge, planner Diego Cardoso of Westchester, designer Sabrina Kay of Fremont Place, and Andres Irlando of Sylmar, director of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “There’s a feeling the climate has changed. When I ran, I said this election was about providing leadership.” The mayor listed a number of early accomplishments such as removing lobbyists from city commissions, appointing an ethics czar in his office, pushing environmental programs, banning rush-hour construction and promoting economic development. In addition, he said he has appointed more than 100 commissioners since taking office, with more than two-thirds of them minorities and half of them women. He also used Thursday’s news conference to announce his nominees to the Citywide Planning Commission. But Villaraigosa, who previously shied away from backing legislation to give him direct authority over local schools, spent most of the time Thursday returning to one of his main campaign themes: discussing education reform and the need for the mayor to have full control over the Los Angeles Unified School District. A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles and a member of the mayor’s Council of Education Advisors, said he opposed a mayoral takeover of the nation’s second-largest district. last_img read more