L.A.'s Mayor Asks for Public Input on Education. But Does He Care What We Say?

Villaraigosa took to Twitter to announce that he wants to hear from the masses about education. Whether he cares what they say is still unclear.

Education is a hot topic in Los Angeles—more than 5,000 teachers protested budget cuts in Downtown last Friday and the Los Angeles Times just released a second go-round of its controversial database ranking teachers according to how much their students' test scores improved—so it's no surprise that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants the public's input on the direction of education reform in the city.

Villaraigosa took to Twitter late Monday afternoon to announce that he wants to hear from the masses about education. The link in his tweet goes to a question submissions page where Villaraigosa—who has long been involved with education reform efforts in the city—outlines his plans to introduce new LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy to San Fernando Valley residents on Monday, meet with parents on Tuesday, and speak to policymakers on Thursday about "changes that need to be made at the state level to help our local schools to succeed and thrive."

He then writes

"But I want to hear from you. What would you do to increase graduation rates and achievement in our schools? How do you think we can better serve LA's diverse student population?

Submit your suggestions and questions on education, vote for the ones you care about, and then I will respond to the most popular submission on Friday via Twitter (@villaraigosa) and Facebook (­raigosa)."


It's a risk for Villaraigosa to open himself up like this. After all, not everyone in the city agrees with his approach to education reform—particularly his support of charter schools and his takeover, through his nonprofit Partnership For Los Angeles Schools, of some the most challenging, low performing campuses in the city.

And, although his gesture is certainly well-meaning, it seems like Villaraigosa should solicit suggestions and questions from the public well before he heads to Sacramento or meets with Dr. Deasy. It's important to remember that just because he's accepting questions and suggestions, that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to answer the questions or act on the suggestions.

So far submissions range from no-brainer suggestions that we have well-prepared teachers who are respected and paid what they deserve, to questions that are more hard hitting, like, "If reform is desired and pervasive, why was Jamie Oliver shut out of the LA school district?" and "Given that the current assessment of schools is not only invalid but biased toward urban systems what will you do to change this atrocity?"

We look forward to seeing what question or suggestion ends up ultimately winning the public vote, and how the mayor responds.

photo via Wikimedia Commons


Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.