Teacher Union Officials Consolidate Power after Los Angeles Strike


Teacher union officials are attempting to consolidate the gains they made from the strike by manning the school board with their bought-and-paid-for candidates like Jackie Goldberg.   Goldberg already has almost half of the votes in a special election for a new school board member post-strike, but school board candidates must have more than 50% of the vote to win.  The candidate told Swaak in February one of the main reasons she is running again is to keep charter school advocates from sitting on the board.  Taylor Swaak has the story in the74million.org.

Goldberg, a former school board member and vocal charter critic who was a prominent face of the January teacher strike, received 48.26 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s Board District 5 election. In a May 14 runoff, she would likely face either Huntington Park councilwoman Graciela Ortíz, who’s claimed 13.3 percent of the vote so far, or former L.A. City official and L.A. Unified parent Heather Repenning, who trails Ortíz by 53 votes.

One of the 10 candidates would have to receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff in the predominantly Latino board district, also known as BD5.

Although the boundaries of BD5 were drawn to help elect a Latino representative, the three non-Latino candidates in the race — Goldberg, Repenning, and former charter school executive Allison Greenwood Bajracharya — garnered the most campaign contributions and outside donor funding. United Teachers Los Angeles gave more than $640,000 to Goldberg by Election Day; SEIU Local 99, which represents education workers including cafeteria staff and bus drivers, doled out about $920,000 to get Repenning elected. California Charter Schools Association Advocates, the charter school organization’s political arm, didn’t endorse a candidate in the primary.

Goldberg, backed by UTLA, was dubbed “the candidate to beat” during the campaign season, carrying considerable name recognition from her previous positions as a 16-year teacher in Compton, a school board member for eight years, a city councilwoman, and a state assemblywoman. The Silver Lake resident told LA School Report that her top priorities as a board member would be taxing the state’s “150 billionaires” and multimillionaires and pushing for more accountability and transparency for charter schools. She’s adamant that lowering class sizes — and pooling more resources toward teaching children to read — are keys to student success. She does not speak Spanish.

If the runoff pits a non-Latino against a Latino candidate, it could get interesting, pollster Paul Goodwin told LA School Report last week.

“If you have a Latino candidate who makes the runoff, there might be a push for Latinos to turn out,” said Goodwin, who’s worked on independent expenditure campaigns funded by CCSAA. But “if you have this interesting sort of inter-union battle between Heather and Jackie … then you might have very, very low Latino turnout.”