LAUSD School Board Sits to Vote in 2022 Midterm Elections
Four candidates are vying for two vacancies on the Los Angeles Board of Education in competitions that could affect the oversight and growth of charter schools and transfer money from some schools to campuses in high-poverty neighborhoods affected by the violence.
Come back here after the polls close at 8 p.m. for the latest vote totals.
In a contest, Rocio Rivas, who is backed by the teachers’ union, is opposed by Maria Brenes, who had the backing of charter school supporters and the union that represents the largest number of non-teaching employees.
In the other contest, school board president Kelly Gonez is the heavy favorite against Cleveland High School Spanish teacher Marvin Rodriguez.
The battle between Rivas and Brenes could sway the direction of the seven-member governing body of the country’s second-largest school system.
Rivas said she hopes to stop the growth of charter schools and increase oversight of these privately run public schools. In contrast, one of Brenes’ top priorities is to shift more funding to campuses with the highest percentage of needy students.
The two are competing to represent District 2, which includes downtown and surrounding neighborhoods and extends deep into the Eastside.
The run-off between Rivas, 49, senior assistant to school board member Jackie Goldberg, and Brenes, 46, longtime manager of Boyle Heights-based InnerCity Struggle, drew two unions and two businessmen – which combined to throw more than $8.4 million into the race.
The four candidates had pledged to address a dizzying array of challenges — declining enrollment, teen substance abuse, school safety issues, pandemic setbacks and significant achievement gaps affecting black and Latino students — and have surprisingly similar on many issues.
But especially in District 2 – the contest between Rivas and Brenes – the campaign was largely driven by the candidates’ positions on the years-old charter school debate, as well as the extent of support they received from unions.
Brenes has raised far more money than Rivas – and also benefited from a much larger independent campaign on his behalf. In total, independent spending to support Brenes exceeded $5.1 million, while United Teachers Los Angeles spent nearly $2.9 million to support Rivas.
Businessmen Reed Hastings and Bill Bloomfield also poured $422,406 into a negative campaign against Rivas, hoping to erode a 14 percentage point advantage she held in the June primary, when four candidates were on the ballot.
The city center and the neighborhoods to the east have long been the political stronghold of Monica Garcia, who was unable to run again because of term limits. Garcia was known as a strong advocate for charter schools — which are mostly non-union and supported by public school funding — and a key ally of Service Employees International Local 99, which includes bus drivers, custodians, teaching assistants and cafeteria workers. Garcia also worked closely with outside activists, including Brenes, on issues such as eliminating school police and allocating more money to schools serving students they concluded had highest needs, due to poverty, neighborhood violence and other factors.
Brenes embraced Garcia’s legacy — and largely inherited his supporters — but wanted to avoid being drawn into the charter-teacher divide.
Rivas, on the other hand, spoke directly about wanting to limit the growth, influence, and independence of charter schools wherever possible — though their rights to share campuses and public school funding are entrenched in law. of State.
Rivas’ experience included working in the division that oversees charter schools for LA Unified.
In District 6 in the eastern San Fernando Valley, high school teacher Rodriguez, 43, tried to unseat Gonez, who was first elected school board president in 2017.
Gonez was instrumental in the recent hiring of the superintendent. Alberto Carvalho, the longtime leader of the Miami-Dade school system.
Gonez, 34, has collected all the major mentions, including that of the teachers’ union. With $500,000 raised, she had a fundraising advantage over Rodriguez of 47 to 1. Additionally, Local 99 and the political action committee of Netflix founder Hastings and the businessman at the Bloomfield retirement combined to spend nearly $400,000 on his behalf.
In the June primary, Gonez, with 48% of the vote, nearly won re-election.