Charter School Compromise Could Intensify L.A.’s School Board Battles Between Charter Advocates and Union Allies
A major agreement aimed at setting stronger standards for charter schools stands to intensify power struggles for seats on the Board of Education in Los Angeles, setting the stage for more contentious and costly election battles between charter advocates and allies of the teachers union, a cross section of education leaders and experts said.
Under a compromise announced last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, local school boards will have more authority to reject new charter school petitions, making their decisions crucial to the growth of the charter sector. The proposed law, which still needs legislative approval, also requires charter school teachers to hold the same credentials as those in traditional schools and attempts to increase accountability for charters — moves touted as better serving students.
In Los Angeles, school board elections already were the most expensive in the country — as the influential teachers union went head-to-head against better funded pro-charter school groups seeking a controlling majority on the seven-member body. A record breaking $15 million was spent in the 2017 race in which charter-backed Nick Melvoin, defeated union-backed school board president Steve Zimmer.
While the compromise may calm some contention at the state level, in Los Angeles “there are folks on both sides who are going to be even more crazy on local school board elections,” Melvoin said.
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