Thursday, May 18, 2017


Public schools lost in the Los Angeles School Board elections on Tuesday. Two pro-charter candidates, backed by huge outside money from some of our least favorite billionaires including Michael Bloomberg, won elections giving the pro-charter group a 4-3 majority on the Los Angeles School Board.

This is not good news.

Election results show that one of the races was a close 51.5%-48.5% vote (provisional votes have yet to be fully counted but the small lead is expected to hold) and the other was 57%-43% so it isn't like public schools don't have our supporters but the charter people can outspend us by huge margins as this excerpt from an analysis of the election by Peter Dreier at the Huffington Post shows.

Once Nick Melvoin joins the Los Angeles Unified School District board, he’s going to require all high school civics teachers to add a new lesson plan to their curriculum: “How To Buy An Election.”

That’s what happened on Tuesday. Melvoin and his billionaire backers dramatically outspent school board president Steve Zimmer’s campaign, making the District 4 race the most expensive in LAUSD history.

Political pundits will spend the next few days and weeks analyzing the Los Angeles school board election, examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, and others — voted on Tuesday.
But the real winner in the race was not Nick Melvoin, but Big Money. And the real loser was not Steve Zimmer, but democracy – and LA’s children.

Melvoin’s backers — particularly billionaires and multi-millionaires who donated directly to his campaign and to several front groups, especially the California Charter School Association (CCSA) — outspent Zimmer’s campaign by $6.6 million to $2.7 million. Melvoin got 30, 696 votes to Zimmer’s 22,766. In other words, Melvoin spent 71% of the money to get 57% of the vote.
Here’s another way of looking at the election results: Melvoin spent $215 for each vote he received, while Zimmer spent only $121 per vote.

Dreier says the big money came from the usual suspects for school privatization including Bloomberg, Eli Broad, the Walton family (Walmart), Reed Hastings of Netflicks fame and others.

Here is a  Facebook statement from our friends at United Teachers of Los Angeles where the President, Alex Caputo Pearl.

Tough loss but we must move forward!
We’re in the midst of an existential fight for the soul of public education, and last night we lost an important round. It’s a troubling development — for our communities and for our democracy — that a handful of wealthy individuals can essentially buy a local election.

The California Charter Schools Association and its billionaire supporters poured more than $10 million into the campaigns for Nick Melvoin and Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez, outspending the locally supported candidates by more than 2 to 1. Their goal, linked to the Donald Trump/Betsy DeVos agenda on the national level, is to dismantle public education through the aggressive, unchecked expansion of corporate charters at the expense of neighborhood schools.

“The billionaires bought this election by spending more than has ever been spent in a School Board race in U.S. history, more than big-city mayor races, and more than most U.S. Senate races,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “Like Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, they want privatized, unregulated schools that don’t serve all kids.”

Our campaign volunteers met the outsiders’ millions with heart and determination, turning out in unprecedented numbers for the campaigns. Through those efforts we are better positioned for the work to come.

“We have just begun to fight,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “We are doubling down on working with the movement of parents, youth, community, educators, and unions that formed around Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla. Together we will fight to invest in our neighborhood schools and put common-sense regulations on charter schools that protect students, families, and taxpayers. We will fight against privatizing our public schools and against creating ‘separate and unequal’ for our kids. We cannot lose the civic institution of public education, and we cannot lose the fight for educational justice.”

Even though these elections were bought by the billionaires, the privatizers still won and now control the School Board in LA. A teachers strike out there seems rather likely.


Anonymous said...

Off topic, does anyone know when we get our parking passes?

Anonymous said...

You don't unless there are no parking except Board of Ed spaces on the streets outside your school.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there's plenty of spots. That's why I'm asking.

Anonymous said...

Prime examples of why teachers will always be screwed - they can't see past their own noses and petty self interests. NYC is like LA in the 90s. NYC been rapidly declining because of Bloomberg and lousy union leadership from Weingarten and Mulgrew, beware , see past your parking placard.

Harris L. said...

As 7:52 says, above, Exhibit A, right here, about why educating and mobilizing public school teachers is such a thankless task.

You write clearly and passionately about the existential crisis facing public schools and teachers and our colleagues only want to talk about parking passes.

And the readers of your blog are, probably, among the teachers most susceptible to the message.

I don't know what we can do to effectively counter Big Money or to raise the consciousness of even those of us most attuned to the fight.

Anonymous said...

We get it. We're screwed. At least we can maybe park in the morning instead of driving around for 45 minutes. I received my "placard" today. It's a piece of paper. I could have printed it out myself. Thanks DeBlahhhsio.

Harris L. said...

I don't begrudge anyone a parking pass, or anything that makes life easier--though this 'deal' won't guarantee any teacher any easier access to a spot.

This was not the right time or place to veer so completely off topic.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the old story of three wishes. The last wish was so big that the person had all of their wishes taken away. Look what happened when the Republicans finally won the Presidency and the Congress! Disfunction and chaos!
If we stick together, hopefully we can all get through this.