Local legislative races become battleground in statewide fight over education
Davis and surrounding areas that make up two legislative districts are becoming a Ground Zero of sorts in a battle over the future of public education in California.
Assembly District 4 and Senate District 3 have seen nearly $1.6 million pumped into the campaigns of two candidates by EdVoice, a foundation that supports charter schools and tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, among other reforms.
EdVoice has spent more than $1 million in support of Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, in his bid for the state Senate and more than $500,000 on Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s bid for the Assembly. No other legislative candidates in California have benefited as much from EdVoice funding.
The California Teachers Association — one of the most politically powerful unions in the state Capitol and a traditional foe of EdVoice — has endorsed Davis Mayor Dan Wolk in the Assembly race, but has remained neutral in the Senate race.
The CTA has contributed money to Wolk’s campaign but has not reported any independent expenditures on his behalf, nor had any other Super PACs — until this weekend.
That’s when the “Coalition for a Healthy Community Supporting Wolk and Opposing Aguiar-Curry for Assembly 2016, Sponsored by Teachers and Consumer Attorneys Organizations,” reported spending $20,000 in support of Wolk’s campaign, and $40,000 in opposition to Aguiar-Curry’s. Additionally, Pace of California School Employees Association reported $17,888 in support of Wolk’s campaign.
That’s still a tiny fraction of the $1.34 million in independent expenditures fueling Aguiar-Curry’s campaign so far, but may be a sign of things to come in the final two weeks of the primary campaign.
The California Teachers Association has seen two tough legal challenges just in the last year alone and may need all the allies it can get in the state Capitol.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, reduced to eight justices with the death of Antonin Scalia, deadlocked 4-4 on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, giving the teachers’ union a victory for the time being.
The case challenged the CTA’s requirement that all teachers pay union fees. Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions pay a fair-share service fee close to the amount union members pay in dues. Those fees, currently mandatory, pay for the costs of collective bargaining as well as some political activity like lobbying, though non-members can obtain refunds for campaign spending and other political activities.
The fees go a long way toward funding the CTA’s agenda in Sacramento, where the union spends millions of dollars supporting or opposing ballot initiatives and helping to elect friendly legislators, primarily Democrats.
The case against the CTA was brought by the Center for Individual Rights, representing 10 California teachers as well as the Christian Local legislative races become battleground in statewide fight over education: