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The L.A. Compact: Increasing Civic Capacity

Posted on | March 16, 2010 | Comments Off

In a Huffington Post piece today, I lauded the new L.A. Compact as a sensible and hopeful way to engage the city in support of its schools.  The Compact is modeled after the Boston Compact, that drew together the business community, the schools, and the city government in that city for more than two decades.  The agreement no longer glues the parties together in Boston, and there are lessons in the unraveling for Los Angeles, but the greater lesson is that the Compact idea is potentially powerful.  In my mind, it is a much better policy path for Los Angeles than an attempted mayoral takeover of the schools.

This latter path, which has drawn the support of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, has as its origins a political understanding of strong mayor cities, such as New York and Chicago.  But in a city like Los Angeles, where the clout of the mayor is more related to personality than the powers of office, reaching outside for working coalition is more powerful.

The Compact (full text here) also recognizes the growing power of unions in Los Angeles’ civic life, and involving them in what amounts to a long-term capacity building venture is both strategic and politic.

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About

Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'

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