Anne and I are spending a few days in Los Angeles to see old friends, enjoy the near perfect weather and celebrate my 70th birthday in my homeland.
But I can’t help it if I never take a vacation from my interest in schools, and as much as we in the heartland complain about being ignored by the coasts, we often miss what is going on here in California.
One important story is that charter schools took a drubbing in the election for governor.
California has a unique primary system where the two candidates with the most votes face each other in the general election, regardless of political party.
Since the California Republican Party is now less popular here than fires, floods and earthquakes, in many cases it is two Democrats who face each other in November.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was planning to be one of the two Democrats in the finals for California Governor against former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome.
I knew of Villaraigosa back in the day when he was a union organizer. Years ago I heard him speak to an NEA Representative Assembly when he was considered a pro-union, pro-teacher leader of the California General Assembly.
But he is that no more.
As L.A. Mayor he was a huge charter supporter.
When he announced for governor, charter backers threw money at him.
The charter school industry’s state advocacy group, the California Charter Schools Association Advocates, created Families and Teachers for Villaraigosa to take in huge sums of money from deep pocket privatizers. Families and Teachers for Villarosa raised $22.5 million in less than two months to attack Newsome.
Pro-Villaraigosa backers included Netflix founder Reed Hastings, who contributed $7 million; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $3.5 million; and Bill Oberndorf, a San Francisco billionaire and ally of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who gave $3.75 million.
Hastings is a pro-voucher and pro-charter billionaire who has called for an end to democratically elected school boards. He founded and profits from the Rocketship chain of charter schools where students spend most of their day at computers being drilled for standardized tests.
Obviously, California teacher unions backed Newsome.
Villaraigosa’s loss is a big one for California and national charters operators. Out-going California Governor Jerry Brown was a charter supporter. The Republican candidate, John Cox, was openly backed by Donald Trump in a state where Trump is despised.
Neither Cox nor charter schools have little chance of coming out on top in November.