School Choice Charter Groups Trying to Buy Influence in Los Angeles’ District Race

Published on Crooks & Liars on 3/11/2017.

Like so many other states, California began its dance charter schools in the early 1990’s. And though it has its fair share of corruption and scandals, the charter system here has not been DeVos corrupt due to maintaining some regulations. This is in no small part thanks to California maintaining a more Democrat heavy legislature.

Like other states’ programs, some are for-profit single proprietors while others are run by large management corporations from New York or Louisiana. In Los Angeles, there may be more bilingual classes than in most other states’ cities but the concept is the same…charter schools are big business and a means for religious zealots to inject their Bible classes into public schools.

This week’s primary was more evidence of the their never ending attempt to take over and corrupt California’s charter schools. Thanks to school choice advocates like DeVos, Los Angeles’ school board candidates managed to raise and spend a record $5.5 million. Since three of the races tied,  a run-off will be held requiring more funds to be spent. It’s a safe bet the school choice, pro-deregulation nut jobs will be spending “bigly.”

President of L.A. Unified School District:

This race is the most contested with Steven Zimmer attempting to maintain his seat against Nick Melvoin. Both candidates started their careers with Teach for America, a nonprofit group that takes graduates from top universities and signs them to two year contracts to teach in low income neighborhoods. That’s where their similarities end. Melvoin went on to work with TeachPlus, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, an organization that favors charters and school choice.

Zimmer isn’t necessarily against school charter programs so long as they meet standards. He is supportive of the teachers’ union and does not want to see an unregulated free-for-all when it comes to education. Thus, the majority of his donations came from parents, unions and those who believe in some accountability. Zimmer managed to raise over $192,000.

Charter proponents were practically throwing money at Melvoin though as he raised over $424,000. This included maximum donations by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation who had given $2 million to L.A. charter schools in the past in an attempt to remake the school district to their liking. Donations also came from:

Zimmer held his own:

Melvoin may have outspent Zimmer by nearly $3000,000, but Zimmer held his own pulling roughly 10,000 more votes. If L.A. wants to keep its schools from going down the drain like so many other states’ charter programs, they need to get behind Zimmer and support him in the run-off.

Perhaps California could lead the way in an anti-DeVos style of education system.