Big money doesn’t buy much in L.A. school races

Mar 7, 2013 by

Outside interests poured money into Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s war chest for this week’s school board elections in an attempt to influence education reform here and nationwide. But when the votes were tallied, the group could count only one clear winner.

The mayor’s political action committee, which amassed more than $3.9 million on behalf of three candidates, secured just incumbent Monica Garcia’s seat.

In the other two races, the Coalition for School Reform lost its bid to unseat incumbent Steve Zimmer, who was backed by the teachers union. The group’s other favored candidate, Antonio Sanchez, is headed for a May 21 runoff.

The results were “a loss for the mayor and the future of reform in the district,” said former state Sen. Gloria Romero, who is generally allied with Villaraigosa’s education agenda.

But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten summed up Tuesday’s election this way: “Big monied interests — most of whom live far away from Los Angeles and virtually none of whom have children in LAUSD schools — were rebuked by parents, teachers and the community.”

The costliest race was between Zimmer and attorney Kate Anderson in District 4, which spans the Westside and west San Fernando Valley. There, the mayor’s group spent more than $1.5 million on Anderson’s behalf. The coalition campaign portrayed one-term incumbent Zimmer as an L.A. Unified insider who voted to fire thousands of teachers and approved a hugely expensive new school.

Taking on Zimmer was “an odd choice,” said Charles Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University. Overall, Zimmer has been the most independent current board member and a “bridge builder,” Kerchner said.

via Big money doesn’t buy much in L.A. school races –

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