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L.A. Unified Board Approves Outside Management of Schools

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The Los Angeles Unified District's board of education today approved a controversial new policy that will allow outside groups, including charter school operators, to compete to manage up to as many as 250 schools in the nation's second largest district.

The measure passed on 6-1 vote after a debate of more than three hours that lingered largely on labor union and facilities issues.

Under the approved resolution, 50 new schools slated to open in the district over the next four years, and another 200 schools that have failed to meet academic benchmarks under federal law for at least three years, would be targeted for new management. The plan calls for inviting school planning teams, the teachers' union, charter-management organizations, and local community organizations to submit proposals for overhauling management of the targeted schools. Los Angeles Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines is now charged with hammering out the details of how the competitive process will work.

Supporters (parents and charter school operators dressed in light blue shirts) and opponents (union members clad in red t-shirts) turned out in force at Los Angeles Unified's downtown headquarters early this morning. The Los Angeles Times described the scene as chaotic.

Board member Steven Zimmer sought to include a provision that teachers, parents, students and bargaining units at any targeted school would be allowed to vote on any management plan that would be submitted for review by the superintendent. The United Teachers Los Angeles pushed hard for the provision's inclusion. You can read the reasons behind UTLA's staunch opposition here.

Los Angeles has been viewed in recent years as one of the more sluggish urban districts when it comes to reform. Will some of Mr. Cortines' new initiatives, along with the approval of this measure, start to shift that view? Stay tuned as the next phase of this resolution—when the details of how this competitive process will actually work are rolled out later this fall.

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