News briefs

Charter advocates win control of LA school board

Charter school backers now claim a 4-3 majority on the Los Angeles school board, with sway over the nation’s second-largest school district. In a contentious and unusually expensive election fight, former Obama administration employees Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez overcame the resistance of the city’s teachers union with a billionaire-backed spending campaign and a message distancing them from the voucher agenda of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos.

The total amount spent on the race exceeded $15 million, making it the most expensive school board election ever. Much of the money came from wealthy charter backers, including Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings, who donated about $5 million. The pro-charter side also drew large donors from Republican circles and conservative and anti-union causes.

“We’re not deterred,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Communities around the country will take stock of what happened in Los Angeles as they prepare to fight against future efforts by billionaires to engage in hostile takeovers of school districts.”

Los Angeles already has more than 156,000 students in charters schools — the largest number of any school district in the nation.

Los Angeles Times, May 17
Politico, May 18

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