Thursday, February 23, 2017

March 2017 Election Voter Guide: L.A. Board of Education Pits Pro-Charter Forces Against Unions | L.A. Weekly

March 2017 Election Voter Guide: L.A. Board of Education Pits Pro-Charter Forces Against Unions | L.A. Weekly:

L.A. Voter Guide: In Board of Education Races, Follow the Money

Clockwise from top left: Nick Melvoin is one of three challengers to Steve Zimmer in District 4; Lisa Alva, an English teacher at Bravo Medical Magnet School, is the challenger endorsed by the L.A. Times to replace Monica García in District 2; Garcia and Zimmer are the two longest-serving incumbents on the board.
Clockwise from top left: Nick Melvoin is one of three challengers to Steve Zimmer in District 4; Lisa Alva, an English teacher at Bravo Medical Magnet School, is the challenger endorsed by the L.A. Times to replace Monica García in District 2; Garcia and Zimmer are the two longest-serving incumbents on the board.

It is no secret that the big money in the March 7 Los Angeles city election is going to the three races for the school board. This is the outside money, the "dark money," the "independent expenditures," the donations from third-party groups for or against a particular candidate, funds that are limitless and anonymous so long as they are not in the control of the candidate's campaign.
This year the amount of outside money going to races for the Los Angeles Board of Education is on pace to make the March 7 election the most expensive LAUSD school board election yet. Nowhere near the amount of outside money in the school board contests is going to the other city races — which include the mayor, city controller, city attorney and eight seats on the City Council.
A reported 81 cents of every dollar contributed to the L.A. city election has been spent on supporting or opposing one candidate or another for school boardaccording to the L.A. City Ethics Commission. Most of it is coming from backers of public charter schools. So far this year, charter backers are outspending labor unions there by a ratio of 2-to-1.
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan upped the ante by donating $1 million in January to a group called L.A. Students for Change, which opposes the re-election of school board president Steve Zimmer in District 4, covering the Westside and west San Fernando Valley. The group is one of a few connected to the California Charter Schools Association.
The CCSA and its financial backers have spared no expense in targeting Zimmer, who has shown increasing support for more stringent fiscal and operational oversight of charters. As of Feb. 20, more than $1.2 million from charter-backed groups has gone to opposing Zimmer.
In addition, the Parent Teacher Alliance, closely tied to the CCSA, has donated more than $260,000 to support the campaign of Zimmer challenger Nick Melvoin, an attorney and private adviser to charter advocates, and more than $184,000 to support Allison Holdorff Polhill, an attorney and member of the board of trustees of Palisades Charter High School.
Meanwhile, independent expenditures from groups tied to unions representing district employees, most notably United Teachers of L.A., have totaled $705,000 to support Zimmer and another $137,000 to oppose Melvoin and Polhill.
Sixty percent of all outside spending on the school board elections has gone to the District 4 race, according to data from the L.A. Ethics Commission.
In 2015, Melvoin was the policy director and legal counsel to Great Public Schools: Los Angeles, a group working to elect charter-friendly candidates to the school board. He defended the plan for aggressive charter expansion that came to light after a memo from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation was leaked to the press.
Arguing from the premise that the public charter-school sector was outperforming traditional schools, the Broad Foundation projected a plan to enroll half the students in the district in public charters by the year 2023. It estimated that 260 new charter schools could be created (at a price tag of $490 million), enrolling at least 130,000 new students and creating a model of "high-March 2017 Election Voter Guide: L.A. Board of Education Pits Pro-Charter Forces Against Unions | L.A. Weekly:





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