JUST IN: LAUSD sweetens contract offer to teachers union

Vivian Ekchian Betty Forrester LAUSD

From left: Negotiators Vivian Ekchian, LAUSD; Betty Forrester, UTLA

In a new contract proposal to the teachers union, UTLA, LA Unified is offering a three-year package with annual raises of at least 2 percent and a plan to re-hire 3,000 teachers who have been laid off in recent years.

The latest offer adds two years to the length of the contract initially offered to the union and mirrors the deal offered to AALA, the administrators union: a 2 percent lump sum for 2013-14, a 2 percent raise over each of the next two years, and a 2.5 percent pay bump in 2016-17. 

District officials intend to present the latest terms to the union officials, including the chief negotiator, Betty Forrester, at a bargaining session scheduled for Thursday. Two more sessions are scheduled for August.  

The district’s chief labor negotiator, Vivian Ekchian, told LA School Report that she is eager to resume contract talks after nearly a month of inactivity. 

UTLA rejected the district’s opening proposal on May 26 without any debate, calling it “insulting.” The union has asked for a 17.6 percent raise over an unspecified number of years, following seven years without a salary increase.  

Ekchian says the more robust offer is not likely to be dismissed as quickly. “The past rejection was based on new contracts for just two years,” she said. “This is a four-year commitment.”

When compounded, the pay increases add up to 8.5 percent over the next three years, which would cost the district more than $353 million, she said. Including health benefits and other costs, the district says the the new reflects a 26.3 percent increase over current levels. 

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Opinion: Teachers unions oppose change — why?

wsj-wallstreetjournal-convertedVia Wall Street Journal | By Antonio Villaraigosa

President John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” This message has apparently been lost on some people in our teachers unions who used their recent national conventions in Los Angeles and Denver to argue against desperately needed changes in our public schools.

At a time when only one in 10 low-income children is earning a four-year college degree and two out of three jobs of the future will require one, change is needed. At a time when more than half of young people attending community college need to retake high-school classes because the education they received was not rigorous enough, change is needed. At a time when American 15-year-olds trail their counterparts in 30 countries in math, 23 in science and 20 in reading, change is needed.

For some time now, teachers, elected officials, community, business and nonprofit organizations have advanced bold changes in education. America is raising standards, investing in teachers, rewriting curriculum, bringing technology into the classroom and exploring new learning models like public charter schools that are getting results in higher graduation and college-enrollment rates.

Read full story here

Johnson campaign goes negative, citing the ‘myth’ of McKenna

Alex Johnson George McKenna Negative Mailer LAUSDAlex Johnson has gone negative.

In two recent mailings (here and here) to “most likely” voters in LA Unified’s District 1, the Johnson campaign is questioning George McKenna‘s accomplishments as the two candidates seek the open school board seat.

“We always knew that at some point, our campaign has to address to the myth of George McKenna,” Johnson’s campaign manager, Roy Behr, told LA School Report today. “The real George McKenna is nothing like the myth he likes to spread.”

McKenna has responded with a message on his website, calling Johnson’s tactics a “shameful smear campaign” — with the word “SHAMEFUL” in red appearing across a photograph of Johnson — and asking supporters to donate to his campaign.

In an email to voters, McKenna’s campaign manager, Jewett Walker, wrote, “When a candidate loses a primary by 20 points, like our opponent, there is no clear path to victory in the runoff. Well, over the last several days, our opponent has revealed his plan: smear the good name of George McKenna.”

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LA Unified offers shots to stall rise of whooping cough

immunizationIn response to a surge in cases of whooping cough, LA Unified is helping parents meet new state immunization requirements by offering immunization shots, beginning July 28. The T-dap shots protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

Eligible students are Medi-Cal recipients, Native Americans and those without insurance.

Students must have a completed an L.A. Unified immunization consent form and a current immunization record to receive the whooping cough booster.

Under a 2010 state law, when California experienced 9,000 whooping cough cases, children entering 7th to 12th grades are required to be immunized and need proof of a T-dap booster shot before starting school. The state legislature passed the law to guard against further outbreaks. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that is usually spread by coughing.

Pertussis cases have been on the rise with elementary, middle and high school outbreaks being reported across the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. As of July 8, a total of 5,393 cases have been documented in California.

LAUSD officials say 50 LA Unified students have contracted whooping cough since June. More than a third of them are from the San Fernando Valley. Officials have reported 84 cases within the district since March.

A new state law that went into effect Jan. 1 requires parents, except for those who opt for religious reasons, to submit a signed doctor’s note proving that they have been notified of the risks and benefits of immunizations.

A list of clinics providing the shots is available here.

Morning Read: POTUS gains support for minority education

Obama to report widening of initiative for black and Latino boys
President Obama will announce on Monday that 60 of the nation’s largest school districts are joining his initiative to improve the educational futures of young African-American and Hispanic boys, beginning in preschool and extending through high school graduation. NY Times


Beyond the factory model
A foundation-funded experiment is testing whether “blended learning” can personalize instruction in eight Oakland schools. Blended learning combines brick-and-mortar schooling with online education “with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace” of learning. Education Next


New superintendent contract gives a reward for incompetence
Editorial: When José L. Banda takes over as superintendent for the Sacramento City Unified School District on Aug. 1, he will earn an annual salary of $290,000 – a $20,000-a-year raise from his current post running the larger Seattle Public Schools. Sac Bee


Teachers union leader raises strike possibility
The newly elected chief of Los Angeles Unified School District’s teachers union has told members a strike is viable option as the union continues its battle for a 17.6 percent pay raise. LA Register


Charter schools: Audit finds missing, misused funds at LA network
The Los Angeles Unified school district is investigating a network of eight charter schools for misuse of public school funds. An audit showed Magnolia Public Schools used classroom cash to help six non-employees with immigration costs. KPCC

PAC spending for Johnson gives him $200,000 advantage

ballot box money JohnsonAs the week comes to a close, Alex Johnson has expanded his overall lead in financial support over George McKenna in their quest to win election as the new District 1 board member in LA Unified, according to the latest figures from the City Ethics Commission.

At mid-day, he held the same ratio of support, about 8-to-1, in individual contributions that he had as the week started — now, $47,646 to $6,450.

But expenditures on behalf of his campaign have jumped considerably.

Today, the figurees show that money spent by outside Political Action Committees on behalf of Johnson’s campaign has doubled, to a $200,000-plus advantage over McKenna from a $100,000-plus advantage early in the week.

Also, with less than a month before the Aug. 12 election, the figures show Johnson holding a sharp advantage in cash on hand. By the latest numbers, he has more than $46,000 to spend while McKenna has only $2,258.

One caveat for all of Johnson’s money lead continues, however: McKenna remains well-known and popular in the district, and voter participation is expected to be lower than the usual turnout for local elections, especially ones that have the day to themselves. 

Also this week, each candidate picked up an endorsement from a sitting board member. Monica Ratliff endorsed McKenna while Monica Garcia appeared at a fundraiser for Johnson.

Previous Posts: Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money; LA Fed’s PAC recommends Johnson for LAUSD board seat; McKenna, Johnson re-launch campaigns for school board seat

Magnolia charter troubles having an impact beyond LA Unified

Magnolia-Charter-schools-2New troubles for the non-profit charter school network, Magnolia Public Schools (MPS), are beginning to raise concerns beyond LA Unified, where the sudden closure of two schools for fiscal mismanagement expanded yesterday into what could be a larger investigation.

In a letter outlining a recent fiscal audit that led to the closure of the two LA Unified schools, Magnolia Science Academy-6 and Magnolia Science Academy-7, district officials detailed a number of irregularities and called the parent organization itself “insolvent.”

At least one other county has noticed.

“We will pay attention to this – we wouldn’t want to find out that our school would have to close because other schools are in trouble,” said Don Bolce, director of special projects at the Santa Clara County Office of Education, which renewed a charter petition last year for a Magnolia school located on the outskirts of Cupertino after reviewing concerns about the school’s finances.

“We recognize that with a charter school that is part of a charter management organization, a problem at one school could impact other schools – if there is a problem, it endangers the system,” he told LA School Report.

Messages seeking comment from Mehmet Argin, the MPS chief executive, were not immediately returned.

MPS currently operates 11 schools across California: eight in LAUSD, plus three others, including one in Santa Ana that has been of concern to school and county officials in Orange County despite winning approval for $18 million in facilities bond money.

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Morning Read: Vergara splits Tuck and Torlakson campaigns

Vergara ruling becomes campaign issue
State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Marshall Tuck this week launched a petition calling on his opponent, incumbent Superintendent Tom Torlakson, not to appeal a lawsuit ruling that struck down statutes giving California teachers firing protections and rights to tenure and seniority. EdSource


Charter school integrates ‘deeper learning’
Deeper learning is an education concept that’s received increasing attention in recent years; it’s woven into the Common Core State Standards and is being implemented in a growing number of schools nationwide. In its simplest terms it means just what the name implies: learning that goes beyond rote memorization and the superficial mastery of facts to promote a deeper level of understanding. EdSource


US Department of Justice blasts California’s English learner monitoring
Officials with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing Monday they’re troubled California officials did not act on a 2007 student census that found 20,000 English learner students had received no specialized instruction. KPCC


‘Biliterate’ California high school graduates up 30 percent
A record number of graduating high schoolers achieved an academic standard known as “biliteracy,” jumping from 19,000 students last year to 24,513 in 2014, according to the California Department of Education. Being biliterate is more than being bilingual. KPCC

JUST IN: LAUSD expands probe into Magnolia charter schools

Magnolia Science Academy 7 LAUSD

Magnolia Science Academy 7

* Updated

LAUSD’s audit of two Magnolia Science Academy charter schools leading to their possible closure has triggered investigations into the financial health of six other schools run by the same non-profit group.

We are looking at the other Magnolia charter schools through the Office of the Inspector General,” Superintendent John Deasy told LA School Report today.

The district denied the charter renewal applications for Magnolia Science Academies 6 and 7 after an independent audit conducted on behalf of the district determined that the schools’ parent company, Magnolia Public Schools (MPS), is insolvent. The audit uncovered a number of fiscal management violations.   

MPS, which is based in Westminster, Calif., operates eight schools within LA Unified that serve more than 2,700 students. It also runs three other schools in San Diego, Santa Clara and Costa Mesa.

The organization told LA School Report today it is appealing the denials to the LA County Board of Education, an avenue that state laws provide. The schools have also filed for an injunction in LA Superior Court to allow the schools to remain open. A hearing is set for July 24.

LA Unified’s chief legal counsel, David Holmquist, said the district routinely expands the scope of its investigations when there is evidence of potential instability. 

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Garcia 2nd board member to endorse — Johnson is her guy

Monica Garcia LAUSD School BoardMonica Garcia, who represents LA Unified’s District 2, has become the second district board member to endorse one of the candidates running for the District 1 seat, last held by the late Marguerite LaMotte.

Garcia is the “special guest” at fundraiser tonight in Hancock Park for Alex Johnson, the Mark Ridley-Thomas aide who is opposing George McKenna in the Aug. 12 runoff.

Garcia’s appearance comes a few days after Monica Ratliff, the District 6 representative, threw her support behind McKenna.

Apart from the possibility each of the Monicas faces, the prospect of working alongside a new member she didn’t endorse, the expressions of support are entirely predictable.

Garcia is a well-known proponent of charter schools and overall school reform — her website carries the headline “Reform The L.A. Way,” and much of Johnson’s support has come from a political action committee affiliated with the California Charter Schools Association.

Ratliff, a former teacher, is more closely aligned with traditional schools and United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers union whose PAC is supporting McKenna.

The fundraiser is being hosted by Ben Paul, chief executive of the nationwide program After-School All-Stars, which provides activities for students beyond the daily final bell.

Previous Posts: McKenna is the union candidate, but CTA gave to Johnson backers; Ratliff forgoes neutrality, endorsing McKenna in board race; Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money

Commentary: When educational options reverse fate of location

New OCRcom logo final 3

Via OC Register | by Jalen Rose

Many young people in America today face a harsh reality. Their fate in life is determined by their ZIP code. For an overwhelming number of African Americans and other minorities, having the wrong ZIP code keeps you from a high school diploma, a college degree, and a future that offers you opportunities that match your talents.

That’s wrong. And it’s entirely avoidable.

We are not assigned to certain grocery stores or restaurants based on our ZIP codes, which is why it makes no sense that between K-12, children are required to attend a school solely based on where they live.

The fact of the matter is that the high school graduation rate for African American males is just 52 percent – 26 percentage points below the national average of their white counterparts. In other words, more than half of all African American children in America will never have the basic skills to compete in the 21st century workforce. Odds are many of those children will turn to crime, violence or drugs, causing problems for every single American who pays taxes or simply seeks to live in a society that allows people to realize their full potential.

There is an obvious solution at hand to deal with this chronic crisis – educational choice.

Read the full story here

Koch nonprofit providing ‘liberty-based’ course for HS students

HUFFINGTON-POST-IconVia Huffington Post | by Christina Wilkie

In the spring of 2012, Spenser Johnson, a junior at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas, was unpacking his acoustic bass before orchestra practice when a sign caught his eye. “Do you want to make money?” it asked. The poster encouraged the predominantly poor students at Highland Park to enroll in a new, year-long course that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business.

Students would receive generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation. The course would begin that fall. Johnson eagerly signed up.

In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.

Read the full story here

Morning read: National poll shows public suport for preschool

Poll shows support for public preschool funding
In a new national poll conducted by a bipartisan research team, respondents voiced their strong support for expanding public preschool, echoing other recent surveys on the issue. EdSource


Beverly Hills High School principal files lawsuit against district
The principal of Beverly Hills High School filed a federal lawsuit against the school district Wednesday, alleging that officials routinely ignored his complaints of racial discrimination and retaliated against him through attacks in the media, harassment and by denying job opportunities to him and his family. LA Times


Summer school now a given for high achievers, but it’ll cost them
California state law forbids public schools to charge for classes. To get around that, this and other public school districts – including Manhattan Beach, Arcadia, and San Marino – have set up private foundations to run their summer schools. At Palos Verdes, the foundation charges students $585 per summer school class. KPCC


The invisible cigarette burns
Commentary: New data from the California Department of Public Health found that more than 60% of Californians have experienced at least one form of childhood trauma, and 25% have experienced three or more. Childhood trauma is the largest public health crisis in America, and too few people are talking about it. LA Fund

McKenna is the union candidate, but CTA gave to Johnson backers

AAVREP JohnsonCalifornia’s biggest teacher union contributed $20,000 to an organization that is a major supporter of the LA Unified school board District 1 candidate that UTLA is trying to defeat.

According to the California Secretary of State, which tracks political contributions, the California Teachers Association (CTA) gave the money to the African American Voter Registration and Education Project (AAVREP) in June of last year.

AAVREP, a Super PAC founded in 2002 by LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, has spent over $114,000 in independent expenditures on behalf of Alex Johnson, a strong supporter of charter schools who is running against George McKenna, whose only independent expenditure group for the Aug. 12 runoff election is the PAC for the LA teachers union, an affiliate of CTA.

Johnson works for Ridley-Thomas as an education advisor.

The Project says it’s the largest organized effort targeting African American and urban voters in California, registering more than 175,000 voters over the last 20 years. Its goal is to increase political participation among African American and urban voters.

Since CTA made the donation to AAVREP, the group has also spend money to support Wendy Gruel in her mayoral campaign and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. 

“Educators believe it is extremely important for citizens who are eligible to vote do so in order to make their voices heard,” said Claudia Briggs, a spokeswoman for CTA. “This is why from time to time we support voter registration projects around the state.”

Previous Posts: UTLA votes to endorse McKenna in District 1 board race; Vote-by-Mail request for District 1 school board starts today; McKenna, Johnson re-launch campaigns for school board seat

With budget boost, LAUSD police gearing up for new year

LASPD LAUSD students policeA budget increase of $4 million  is enabling the LASPD, the police force that serves LA Unified, to build on the safety practices the department began implementing last year.

The additional funding came as a result of a growing number of school shootings across the country, including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and the enduring concerns of parents to keep their children safe.

“The community and students can expect to see on the first day of school a high visibility police presence of our police officers throughout different school campuses,” John Guttierez, a senior police officer at LASPD told LA School Report.

The additional funding has provided on-going training for officers, re-training school principals on lockdown procedures and additional safety personal at school sites, including 1,000 aides, which translates into two aides per campus.

They will help officers monitor the school site and report back to them if they see anything unusual. Random searches will also continue on school campuses.

“Parents want to know that we — as a district, as a police department and school administrators — are doing everything we can to keep their child safe,” Guttierez said.

And that includes making sure campuses are free from weapons of any kind, including knives and guns.

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Morning Read: California schools mislabeling English learners

California ‘English learner’ tests incorrectly label bilingual kids
Arianna Anderson is one of 180,000 students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s program for English learners. Over 90 percent of students in the program speak Spanish. Most everyone else speaks Armenian, Korean or Filipino. And Arianna? “I’m not an English learner,” the 9-year-old said with a shrug. KPCC


Better-educated public school kids — for a price
Editorial: It’s laudable when parents do all they can to bolster their children’s education. But they go too far when their foundations, which supposedly exist to help all students in the district, offer for-credit classes only to those students whose parents can afford to pay for them. Public schools shouldn’t play along with a system that gives some students an academic head start over others. LA Times


How Oakland’s public schools are fighting to save black boys
Four years ago, the Oakland Unified School District launched the office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) – the first and only school district in the country with an office explicitly dedicated to lifting the prospects of black boys. MSNBC


Allegations against ex-teacher at Marlborough School investigated
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating allegations that a teacher carried out an “inappropriate physical relationship” with a student at one of Los Angeles’ most prestigious private schools. LA Daily News


Teacher union conference concludes with support for tenure laws
Wrapping up its national convention in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, members of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ union turned their attention Monday to tenure laws. The American Federation of Teachers panel featuring educators from out of state shared their personal observations to bolster why current tenure laws work. LA Daily News

Ratliff forgoes neutrality, endorsing McKenna in board race

Board member Monica Ratliff

Board member Monica Ratliff

Monica Ratliff, who was elected to the LA Unified school board last year, became the first member of the board to take sides in the District 1 school board race, endorsing George McKenna over Alex Johnson, McKenna’s campaign announced late in the day.

No other board member has expressed public support for either of the contenders in the Aug. 12 runoff.

“It is with the utmost respect for his long history of success and dedication to students that I wholeheartedly endorse George McKenna for School Board,” Ratliff was quoted as saying in the announcement. “His many years of experience as a dedicated and successful teacher, principal, and administrator will continue to serve the students and parents of District 1 well.”

McKenna, a retired school administrators with decades of experience, said, “I am humbled to have earned the support of superb educator Mónica Ratliff. Since the voters elected her to the LAUSD board in 2013 she has proven to be a deliberate member and strong advocate for our children. I look forward to working with her and all the board members when the people elect me to be their school board representative on August 12th.”

Ratliff, who represents the East Valley District 6 on the board, did not immediately respond to an email message, seeking confirmation of her endorsement. The message also sought to ask how she would forge a working relationship with Johnson if he were to defeat McKenna.

In the announcement, McKenna’s campaign manager, Jewett Walker, cited Ratliff’s successful campaign last year over Antonio Sanchez as similar to McKenna’s campaign against Johnson. Sanchez had raised far more money than Ratliff, and McKenna is far behind Johnson in both individual donations and money spent on his behalf by political action committees.

“In her 2013 race for school board, Ratliff was outspent by over $2 million dollars,” Walker said, referring to his support that included wealthy westside donors, then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, “big” charter school operators, the LA County Federation of Labor and SEIU Local 99, the school service workers union.

“They thought the electorate would support a 30-something unknown with no record in education who many believed was only running to use the school board seat as a political stepping-stone,” Walker said. “Voters chose Ratliff, an LAUSD teacher, who forged a campaign led by educators who pounded the pavement. The parallel between the two races is interesting.”

Previous Posts: Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money; Labor groups split on support for McKenna and Johnson in runoff; UTLA votes to endorse McKenna in District 1 board race

Hollywood leaders join program to mentor LAUSD students

Frances Fisher Hollywood leaders LAUSD students

Frances Fisher, film actress and mentor in new program

For those living in Los Angeles it’s not uncommon to brush up against some aspects of the entertainment industry. Now LAUSD students have the chance to meet and get life advice from Hollywood leaders. 

The district is partnering with The Creative Coalition, a non-profit arts advocacy group, to create “Show Biz Gives Back,” a mentoring program that brings students together with actors, writers, producers, directors and other entertainment industry professionals who will provide skills support, and role modeling to kids across the district.  

Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition, told LA School Report it’s difficult to nail down details for specific mentors of mentoring programs because of the nature of the entertainment industry. 

“Actors, writers, producers, directors, they never know where they’re going to be. They could be in Romania one day and then back home the next,” she said. “But when we’re able to lock them down, we’ll get them in a classroom, talking to a small group of students or a whole school.”

More than 50 mentors have agreed to participate but many more are likely to sign on, Bronk said. The Creative Coalition’s president, Tim Daly, who recently played a dreamboat on “The Mindy Project,” will be a mentor. Drake Bell, the voice of Peter Parker on the Ultimate Spider-Man, and film actress, Frances Fisher, have also committed to the program. 

Several entertainment companies will also participate, including Sony Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, Open Road Films, ICM, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter. 

Some entertainment company leaders also plan to offer internships.

“[This] is an opportunity for seasoned professionals to help young people develop both personally and professionally,” Bronk said.

Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money

Alex Johnson and George McKenna LAUSD

Alex Johnson (left), George McKenna (right)

Alex Johnson has opened a substantial lead over George McKenna in campaign support from individual donors and groups that support his candidacy even as major backers from the education reform camp and labor unions who have given millions in previous years appear to be sitting this election out. 

The two candidates are facing each other in an Aug. 12 runoff to fill LA Unified’s open District 1 board seat.

Despite finishing a distant second in the June 3 primary (winning 24 percent of the vote to McKenna’s 44 percent), Johnson has raised almost eight times what McKenna has in individual donations, nearly $48,000, to just under $6,500 for McKenna. Half of Johnson’s contributions are for the maximum $1,100.

Meanwhile, figures this morning from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission show that Super PACs have spent more than $140,000 on behalf of Johnson — over $110,000 more than groups supporting McKenna. Super PACs are independent expenditure committees that must operate separately from a candidate’s campaign.

The Commission reports that the lion’s share of the money spent on behalf of Johnson — about $114,000 — comes from one organization, the African American Voter Registration, Education & Participation Project (AAVREP), a group founded in 2002 by LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Johnson works for him as an education advisor.

The Project says it’s the largest organized effort targeting African American and urban voters in California, registering more than 175,000 voters over the last 20 years. Its goal is to increase political participation among African American and urban voters.

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LA Fed’s PAC recommends Johnson for LAUSD board seat

Alex Johnson LA Federation of Labor LAUSD

Alex Johnson, candidate for district 1 school board seat

*CORRECTION

The political action committee for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has recommended to its members that they endorse Alex Johnson, in his bid for the open LA Unified school board seat.

It’s the first step in the group’s process for endorsing a candidate. The decision by the Committee on Political Education (COPE) now goes before the union’s board of directors, and if the board agrees with the recommendation, it goes before the assembly of members who would vote next week for a final and formal endorsement.

An earlier story on LA School Report misstated the union’s process for determining the endorsement, leading to the Aug. 12 runoff election for the LA Unified District 1 school board seat.

The Federation represents over 350 labor unions and more than 845,000 workers.

“I am proud and gratified to have the strong support of the Committee on Political Education of the L.A. County Federation of Labor in my campaign for the parents, students, school staff and teachers of LAUSD District 1,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.

“These remain economically challenging times for many working women and men. That’s why I strongly supported the $15 minimum wage sought by cafeteria workers, custodians, and other school support staff represented by SEIU Local 99.”

Johnson has received endorsements from more than a dozen union locals, while his opponent, George McKenna, has won support from two unions with much closer ties to the school district — those representing teachers (UTLA) and school administrators (AALA).

The value of any endorsements remains to be seen, however, especially if they do not come with major financial backing. Even with his labor endorsements for the June 3 general election, Johnson finished a distant second to McKenna in a field of seven candidates.

Further, few, if any, of Johnson’s individual donors are members of unions, and the bulk of his Super PAC support comes from a voter education group founded by his boss, LA Country Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the state charter schools association.

McKenna, 74, enjoys widespread name recognition in the district, largely from his decades of work as a school administrator. Johnson, 33, is drawing on his work as an education aide to Ridley-Thomas, whose political ties have helped win much of Johnson’s support.

Previous Posts: McKenna, Johnson re-launch campaigns for school board seat; Johnson’s internal poll shows gains on McKenna in runoff; SEIU endorses Alex Johnson for LAUSD school board in runoff


* This version clarifies the steps the LA Federation takes to endorse a candidate.