Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CA: I'm disagreeing with Dan Walters again on education

Not surprisingly, I find myself once again disagreeing with Cato friendly Dan Walter's latest op-ed although this time I think it's more like a nuanced disagreement.

While I do agree with his contention that there are largely two ideological groups in conflict over education policy, I don't quite 'get' the political triangle Walters talks about in his piece, mostly because this triangle, whatever it is, isn't really an issue.

What Walters really wants to do is talk about Villaraigosa, the LA mayor who is trying to get Sacramento to hand him control over the schools in LA.
It is, to some extent, an ideological conflict, liberals tending toward the not-enough-money attitude and conservatives toward the weak-leadership contention, but those lines are being blurred as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's visit to the Capitol on Monday underscores.

Villaraigosa is a Democrat, a former Assembly speaker and a former union official, but he's made taking over management of the huge and hugely troubled Los Angeles Unified School District a cornerstone of his mayoralty -- and perhaps of his hopes of becoming governor.
What Walters leaves out is the little-discussed backdrop of influential Dems actually working very closely and quietly with the ideologically rightwing in education policy. Those are our corporate Dems, the DLC, the ones who like to call themselves 'centrist', whatever that means. I've written about this alliance time and time again, especially in regard to the bipartisan piece of trouble, NCLB.

What has been surprising and disheartening to me was seeing Villaraigosa, who has had a past as a union organizer, now pursuing the mayoral takeover route, a tactic straight from the right-wing playbook regarding education in the big cities.

I'd love to know more about Villaraigosa's political evolutionary process, chiefly how he came to this right-wing friendly stance, but certainly his actions should be taken seriously and signals a real break from a progressive agenda.

My interest in Villaraigosa has been piqued despite my disappointment. I suspect his alliance with Gov Schwarzenegger on mayoral control speaks volumes. Clearly more shall be revealed in this story.