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Education
See other Education Articles

Title: A Victory for School Reform in Los Angeles
Source: Weekly Standard
URL Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/a-vic ... in-los-angeles/article/2008091
Published: May 18, 2017
Author: Alice B. Lloyd
Post Date: 2017-05-18 19:21:08 by Tooconservative
Keywords: None
Views: 176

Contentious school board elections in Los Angeles served up a dramatic victory for education reformers in a district, the second-largest in the nation, that has long been dominated by teachers unions' hand-selected board members.

Nick Melvoin, right, and his brother Charlie on election night.

With victories for pro-reform school board contenders Nick Melvoin—who unseated longtime board president Steve Zimmer—and Kelly Gonez on Tuesday, the balance of power shifted to a 4-3 majority in favor of reform measures like increased school choice, the elimination of seniority-based pay and protection for public school teachers, and the shuttering of failing schools.

The city's mayor backed the union-supported incumbent Zimmer, running for his third five-and-a-half year term. As the LA School Report noted, this election marks the first time a pro-reform school board candidate has won in Los Angles without a mayor's endorsement.

Zimmer's campaign smeared his opponent Melvoin—albeit ineffectively—as a disciple of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. (He is neither.) Otherwise Zimmer ran on a strictly more-of-the-same platform, telling supporters during his concession speech Tuesday night, "Don't believe what they say. Teachers are not failing. Students are not failing. Schools are not failing." Melvoin, who supports a universal enrollment system for the Los Angels Unified School district (a system that would include charter schools), said, "We can do better and I know we can do it in L.A."

Guilt by association to the school choice movement that Betsy DeVos champions could have condemned the innovation-minded Melvoin in a county where the scandal-scarred president and his controversial education secretary are particularly unpopular.

Charter school proponents continue to defy the partisan mold. Prominent progressives in Los Angeles and school choice advocacy groups supported Melvoin's and Gonez's messages of innovation while national labor unions (and Bernie Sanders) backed Zimmer—at record levels on both counts.

According to LA School Report:

The election is the most expensive school board race in the nation's history with outside groups aligned with either the teacher unions or education reformers pouring in $14.5 million to influence the outcome of the race. The candidates have spent $2 million. Spending shattered the previous record set four years ago when $7.4 million was spent.

Candidates condemned the excessive spending for creating a brutal campaign. Los Angeles Unified District has been at the high-stakes forefront of the school choice movement for years. The Washington Post dubbed California, which home to more charter schools than any other state, the "Wild West" just last year.

Melvoin and Gonez meanwhile won the endorsements of former Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former Senator Barbara Boxer, both Democrats. One promising takeaway from this school board election: Washington's overhyped infighting doesn't seem to be hobbling reform where it's most needed. At least not today.


Poster Comment:

A surprising result for deep-Blue California, this result was something of a political earthquake in the stale world of the educrats.

See more at LASchoolReport.com: ‘Respect parents’ choices’ — Nick Melvoin lays out his priorities for Los Angeles schools
(1 image)

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