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Villaraigosa Lobbies Feds To Allow LAUSD To Compete Directly For Funding

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel participate in a forum about education in big cities at the Katzen Arts Center on the campus of American University March 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Calling their municipalities 'city-states,' the mayors suppored the idea of individual school districts being able to compete with states for the $4.35 billion 'Race to the Top' grant program created by President Barack Obama.  (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel participate in a forum about education in big cities at the Katzen Arts Center on the campus of American University March 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Calling their municipalities ‘city-states,’ the mayors suppored the idea of individual school districts being able to compete with states for the $4.35 billion ‘Race to the Top’ grant program created by President Barack Obama. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The mayor of Los Angeles was in the nation’s capitol on Friday in the hopes of securing federal funding for the LAUSD without having to compete with the state of California.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is back in Washington in an effort to lobby the federal government to provide education funding directly to the individual school districts instead of going through the state.

Villaraigosa joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan along with the mayors of the nation’s biggest cities to push for the federal government to allow school districts that can show gains in student achievement and graduation rates to compete with states for “Race to the Top” grants.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Obama administration chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat side-by-side with Villaraigosa to drive home their message.

“The three school districts that are represented here are bigger than most states,” Villaraigosa said. “In fact, if you took our collective students, I think they’re bigger than the [number of] students of some 44 states.”

California has fared poorly in the “Race to the Top” application process after billions of dollars in cuts to public education spending after steep declines in tax revenue.

Duncan deflected criticism aimed at administration over education funding and said the goal should be for all students to get some sort of higher education.

“Education fundamentally is an investment, it’s not an expense,” he said. “We can’t just invest in the status quo, we have to invest in reform, but anyone who thinks education is expensive, I would say try ignorance.”

Villaraigosa also used the symposium to push for the ability of individual school districts to be freed from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal program conceived by President George W. Bush’s administration that ties school funding to performance on standardized tests.

States can apply for waivers from No Child Left Behind, but California education officials deliberately missed a deadline this week to apply over conditions that they deemed too restrictive for obtaining a waiver.

Villaraigosa is scheduled to return to L.A. on Friday after the trip, which is being paid for by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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