Tuesday, March 05, 2013

LA School Board Vote Effects All School Districts

Following up on my recent email about LA Mayor Villaraigosa, here’s a big story in today’s NYT about the LA school board races (the vote is tomorrow). This is REALLY important – and has implications far beyond LA. School boards still control nearly all school districts and most people aren’t aware of how the unions over the years have carefully rigged the system, not only by using their money and votes, but by scheduling school board elections off cycle so that the turnout is in the single digits. Effectively, then, they are electing the very people who are sitting across the table from them in negotiations – hmmm, I wonder how THAT type of negotiation turns out??? Answer: lousy for kids and lousy for taxpayers – and an Alice-in-Wonderland sh*tshow of a school system in district after district. Reforms have had some real success when they’ve challenged the union-appointed school board candidates – for example, DFER in Denver – so let’s hope that continues tomorrow in LA:

On Tuesday, voters in Los Angeles will go to the polls for a mayoral primary. But much of the attention will also be on the three races for the school board, a battle that involves the mayor, the teachers’ union and a host of advocates from across the country — including New York City’s billionaire mayor — who have poured millions of dollars into the races.

The outcome of the political fight for the school board seats will have a profound impact on the direction of the nation’s second-largest school district. But the clash has also become a sort of test case for those who want to overhaul public education, weakening the power of the teachers’ union, pushing for more charter schools and changing the way teachers are hired and fired.
After years of pressing to take power away from local school boards, some advocates have directed their money and attention directly to school boards in the hope that they will support their causes, as unions have done in the past.

Last month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City donated $1 million to a coalition formed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles to help elect candidates who will support the current superintendent and the policy changes he has promoted. Students First, a national advocacy organization created by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington, donated $250,000 to the same cause.

So far, the total spending from outside groups, including the teachers’ union, has reached $4.4 million as of Friday, according to the city’s ethics commission.

I love the quote from the union boss:

The union has spent nearly $450,000 to help elect its candidates, but Mr. Fletcher bristles at the involvement of Mr. Bloomberg, Ms. Rhee and others from outside Los Angeles and their attempt to influence the results.

“We don’t elect a superintendent, but school board races are a way to take the temperature of whether people like the direction schools are going in,” Mr. Fletcher said. “This is a race for Los Angeles, not the school board race of America. It would be really tragic if the voices are drowned out by folks who have no sense of what is going on here to begin with.”

Translation: “We’re used to running the show with no opposition from anyone, so we REALLY, REALLY hate it when someone stands up for what’s best for kids, rather than the union.”

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