The Los Angeles school board election attracted enormous amounts of outside money and attention, so it’s no surprise that lots of people are claiming victory in the aftermath. In the end, an incumbent aligned with Supt. John Deasy and an incumbent supported by the teachers union each won, while a third candidate will be in a runoff.
The election attracted record donations, but the attention also created some resentment. Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, told Reuters he disliked that outside donations changed the tenor and focus of the race.
“This isn’t a national referendum,” he said. “It’s a local school board election. It’s about local issues.”
Many of those local issues are also being played out nationally, which is one reason why donors including Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported a slate of school-board candidates who believe in charter schools and in evaluating teachers based on student test performance – something the teachers union there has resisted.
Along with claims of victory, though, came some reality checks.
“How anticlimactic,’’ wrote blogger Alexander Russo. “In a showdown that’s fast approaching 2007’s $7 million campaign spending record, the teachers union and reform groups each succeeded in protecting one of their key supporters on the LAUSD School Board last night — but failed to score any decisive victory against the other side. ‘’
Here’s a quick snapshot of some reactions to the results:
Michelle Rhee, Students First founder and chief executive officer:
“Los Angeles voters made it clear that they stand together with those of us fighting to put kids first and who believe that every child deserves access to a world-class education. Last night’s outcome underscores the importance of the ongoing effort to elevate teaching, empower parents and implement reforms that are in the best interest of our students.”
Joe Williams and Gloria Romero, Democrats for Education Reform:
“Mónica García, the courageous LAUSD board president, held off her opponents to win reelection. Mónica faced multiple challengers in this election, precisely because she has demonstrated the courage to fight for reforms. Status quo forces mobilized in a big way, but so did the education reform community. We are thrilled that she will remain a bold voice on the LAUSD board.”
United Teachers of Los Angeles:
“UTLA is pleased that veteran teacher Steve Zimmer appears to have retained his seat on LAUSD’s Board of Education. Voters were not swayed by outsiders and their millions. School Board seats are not for sale. Zimmer has been a champion of students and an important voice on the school board.”