Cover: Governing Urban School Districts

Governing Urban School Districts

Efforts in Los Angeles to Effect Change

Published Oct 31, 2006

by Catherine H. Augustine, Diana Epstein, Mirka Vuollo

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Many urban school district students are dropping out and few of the remaining ones reach state or district achievement goals. These problems make governing urban schools both difficult and important. In 2005–06, the governance structure of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was examined, debated, criticized, and praised by several different constituencies, including the mayor, who sought to take over the district. This report focuses on the bid for mayoral control of LAUSD and the competing efforts on behalf of various stakeholders. It sets the struggles that took place in Los Angeles in a national context, drawing on the literature on educational governance to analyze the political process and the resulting policy change. New legislation ushers in an untried governance system with the potential to both improve and worsen the governance of the district. The legislation allows the mayor to develop new approaches to schooling in three high schools and their feeder schools. If this cluster management project demonstrates improvements, the approaches he employs could be applied to other schools in the district. Evaluating this endeavor and determining its effects on student outcomes is vital.

The research described in this report was conducted within RAND Education for the Presidents’ Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance.

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