L.A. School Board Seat Could Tip Political Scales on Charter Movement

Los Angeles school board candidates, including former county arts commissioner David Valdez, right, answer yes-or-no questions at a forum in February 2019 at the downtown convention center. (Credit: Howard Blume / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles school board candidates, including former county arts commissioner David Valdez, right, answer yes-or-no questions at a forum in February 2019 at the downtown convention center. (Credit: Howard Blume / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles teachers drew widespread support when they went on strike in January, but public commitment to their cause will be tested Tuesday in an important school board election.

Ten people are vying to fill the open District 5 seat, and the teachers union is walking neighborhoods and mailing flyers for Jackie Goldberg — a veteran elected official who came out of political retirement to run. A victory for Goldberg – a front-runner — could tilt the direction of the Board of Education toward United Teachers Los Angeles.

Other candidates also have powerful endorsements and financial backing. Former charter-school leader Allison Bajracharya has gotten help from charter-school supporters and Heather Repenning, who has spent years in city government, has the backing of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the union that represents most non-teaching school district employees. Graciela Ortiz has raised the most campaign funds of the Latino candidates vying to represent a district that was carved out to help elect a Latino.

The winner will join a board that is split on how to deal with the growing number of privately operated charter schools — which compete with district schools for students — and on how to address low achievement and declining enrollment in the district. The nation’s second-largest school system also faces serious long-term financial challenges.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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