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Teachers union touts Villaraigosa

May 14, 2005

Length: 30 seconds

Images: A dark forest appears with the words: "Looking for Mayor Hahn?" A man in a suit runs with a flashlight shining on his back. The words "L.A. Times says Hahn's ... education claim -- isn't enough" and then "Missed all but two of a hundred school board meetings" appear. A teacher, Stefani D. Williams of 10th Street Elementary School, talks as these words appear: "Smaller classes; Safe, clean schools." The California Teachers Assn. ad ends with Villaraigosa in a classroom.

Announcer: Been looking for Mayor Hahn?

Voice: There he is.

Announcer: So have the 740,000 students in our Los Angeles schools. The L.A Times took Mayor Hahn to task for neglecting his duty to our schools. In four years as mayor, he's only been to two school board meetings. And one was just a staged campaign event.

Williams: Teachers support Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor because he's committed to smaller classes and making our schools safe and clean places to learn. We know he'll be there.

Analysis: The quote from The Times is from a March 13, 2005, editorial that stated: "Beefing up city-sponsored after-school programs -- Hahn's sole first-term education claim -- isn't enough." The editorial called on both Mayor James K. Hahn and Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa to be a "visionary advocate" for the public schools.

During Hahn's tenure as mayor, Los Angeles added the LA's BEST after-school program to 52 elementary schools, bringing the total to 130. Hahn promised during the 2001 campaign to take the program to "every elementary school." There are still 48 more schools eligible for the program.

Officials at the Los Angeles Unified School District said Hahn has appeared before the school board twice as mayor. The mayor has no direct control over the school district and is not required to attend school board meetings.

In his first appearance before the board, in 2002, Hahn urged the district to finish the troubled Belmont Learning Complex, which is now being completed after years of legal wrangling and environmental concerns.

The second time, on March 15, he announced his support for a reform proposal pushed by the Small Schools Alliance, which had launched a $1.5-million campaign to secure pledges of support for small schools from the mayoral candidates. The school board later tabled the proposal.

Villaraigosa, a city councilman, has missed 46% of the meetings of the council's Education and Neighborhoods Committee since he was named to the panel in 2003.

The mayor of Los Angeles has no influence over the size of classes in the city's public schools. In kindergarten through third grades, the state offers schools a financial incentive for keeping classes at 20 students per teacher. But those funds dry up in the higher grades, and most schools can't afford to maintain that ratio.

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