School Reform in the City of Angels: A Conversation with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa
About This Event
Online registration for this event is closed. Walk-in registrations will be accepted.

If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page.

Now serving his second term, Los Angeles mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa has earned a reputation as a hard-charging and outspoken champion of school improvement. He has shut down failing schools, created new opportunities for alternative school providers, and navigated around complicated union contracts--all while wrestling with severe budget shortfalls. Recently made president of the US Conference of Mayors, Villaraigosa is now aiming to bring to that role the same unapologetic commitment to urban school reform. Join us for a conversation on what Villaraigosa has learned from his efforts in Los Angeles, what it takes for mayors to impact public education, and how policymakers and reformers can help drive urban school improvement.
12:45 PM

1:00 PM


1:40 PM
Question and Answer

2:10 PM
Presentation of Champion for Charters 2011 Award:
URSULA WRIGHT, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

2:15 PM
Event Summary

The path to success for any community begins in the local school yard," declared  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a speech today at AEI. He added that it is our "duty to guide our children to the best possible future" and outlined ways he has used his office to promote the change that he believes his city's public schools need to see. He encouraged school district leaders, education reformers, teachers' unions and legislators on both sides of the aisle to find common ground to move forward and improve public education. Villaraigosa, who is also president of the US Conference of Mayors, said when pressed about the proposed federal budget cuts that, "if there's a difference between the mayors and the members of Congress, it's that [mayors] have a real job," meaning that mayors must tend to the practical needs of their cities and thus cannot be "doctrinaire." He then outlined some desired solutions for his city's public schools, including increasing teacher salaries. "If you want the best talent, you have to pay for it. That's how markets work," he said. He also called for empowering parents and giving them choice, attracting great teachers to LA public schools and welcoming "fresh ideas to the table." After his speech, Villaraigosa was presented the Champion for Charters award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools by Ursula Wright, the interim president and CEO, because of his "steadfast commitment to education reform and leadership on critical charter schools issues.


View complete summary.
Speaker Biographies

Antonio Villaraigosa
is the mayor of Los Angeles, California. As a labor leader, civic leader and elected official, he’s led the fight to improve schools, protect the rights of working people, improve mobility and public transit, and make neighborhoods safer, better places to live. Before being elected mayor in 2005, he won the 14th District Los Angeles City Council seat. In 1998, Mr. Villaraigosa was elected Speaker of the California State Assembly. As mayor, he has led the fight to establish Los Angeles one of the nation’s safest big cities by keeping the police force strong and crime at historic lows. He also spearheaded the effort to pass Measure R, a $40 billion investment in creating a first-class public transit system in Los Angeles. He has supported a better variety of options for students and families and founded the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, one of the largest school turnaround projects in the country. Under Mr. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles has reached critical environmental milestones such as implementing the Clean Truck Program and sourcing 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources. He currently serves as president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

Frederick M. Hess
is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of influential books on education including The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform and Spinning Wheels, and pens the Education Week blog “Rick Hess Straight Up.” His work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post and National Review. He serves as executive editor of Education Next

, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.

View Event Details


Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI Participants


Frederick M.
AEI on Facebook