It was a long shot to begin with, but Steve Barr had set out to become the next mayor of Los Angeles. A couple of weeks ago he called it off. In the only interview he’s given since (with the L.A. School Report) he cites Trump/Clinton election fatigue as a factor that dried up donor enthusiasm.
Barr’s long history of advocating for children in poverty, and his feeling that education for under-resourced families was a side issue for the political elite, drove him to run.
Back in June when he announced his run for Mayor he told L.A. Weekly “I don’t know if you can call yourself a great city if you have 200,000 kids going to mediocre or failing schools…I’m not saying the mayor has to take over the school district, but the current mayor seems to think it’s not his job at all. I mean, the mayor has 10 people to do PR and no one on education.”
Today he sticks with that message. He says that in major cities like New York and Chicago, Mayors feel responsible as city leaders for the vitality of public schools.
In Los Angeles, nope.
According to data from the Education Equality Index “students from low-income families in Los Angeles and Long Beach are less likely to attend schools that put them on an equal playing field than those in other major California cities, such as San Francisco, San Diego, Irvine and Fresno.
Mike Trujillo, a political consultant and a Barr supporter, lays that problem at the feet of Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“I think, while Mayor Garcetti may disagree, he’s never made educating the black and brown students of inner Los Angeles a priority, and I doubt he’s going to make it a priority now,”
So, with Barr out of the race who in the political class will champion the cause of better schools for students that desperately need them?