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Los Angeles Sets School-Rescue Program

Some reformers argued that parents voting with their feet would force schools to clean up their act. Others claim it led to mass defections of talented students.  With almost 700,000 students, Los Angeles public schools, second only to New York City, overcrowding is some of the worst in the nation, as is teacher turnover.

If the mayor can get more parents to choose new management at public schools, the argument goes; he can build momentum behind changing the system from within.  The Los Angeles public school system's bureaucracy allowed principals little leeway in allocating their budgets and few principals felt they could stray from a narrowly crafted policy.  What sets Los Angeles's effort apart from past efforts is that parents and teachers have been asked to vote on the change.

"Allowing communities to choose their own management is novel," said Luis Huerta, a professor of education at Columbia University's Teachers College. But he adds that the real challenge is in demonstrating that new management results in real improvements.

 The article, Los Angeles Sets School-Rescue Program”, appeared in the September 2, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal

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