Runoff 2013: Slow Fundraising Start for District 6

Voters head to the polls in less than six weeks to decide the East San Fernando Valley District 6 School Board runoff between Antonio Sanchez and Monica Ratliff, but things are off to a pretty slow start when it comes to fundraising and spending.

In terms of direct campaign fundraising, Ratliff hasn’t raised any money at all since the primary election, and Sanchez has raised just $15,000 since early March.

As for the IE committees, the latest financial reports from the LA City Ethics Commission cover a time period between mid-February and April 6:

*UTLA-PACE, the teachers union’s political arm, received $237,000 in contributions, as well as $628,000 in “miscellaneous cash increases” but only has $73,000 left for the runoff because the union spent heavily in the weeks leading up to the primary. (See report here.)

*The Coalition for School Reform received $712,000 in contributions during the same time period. But it also spent heavily on the primary, so the Coalition has $230,000 in its account to spend on the District 6 election. (See report here.)

*And the Local 99 branch of the Service Employees International Union collected $398,000 between February and April. It has $261,000 to spend on the runoff. (See report here.)

In terms of spending, outside groups including the Coalition for School Reform and the LA County Federation of Labor spent almost $1.3 million to support Sanchez in the primary, but they have spent only $66,000 on him since then.

LA School Report will keep track of campaign spending and will update you with more up-to-date numbers as we get them.

Mayor Wants More Education from Greuel & Garcetti

Outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to deliver his final State of the City address at UCLA tonight, and he plans to use the speech to criticize mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel on their education plans. Villaraigosa spokesperson Peter Sanders told the LA Times that the mayor will “take to task” Greuel and Garcetti for not placing Los Angeles schools higher on their campaign priorities lists.

According to the prepared version of the speech released by the mayor’s office this afternoon, Villaraigosa will express why he thinks “it has been so disheartening to see our mayoral candidates devote so little time to a serious discussion of how to deliver a quality education for all our children.”

In the prepared speech, Villaraigosa goes on to say, “Education reform can’t be a footnote on a campaign mailer or fodder for an attack ad. Improving our schools must be front and center of a real debate and discussion. It is time for our candidates to demonstrate the ‘fierce urgency of now’ when it comes to ensuring that all, not some, not many, but all of our children have access to great schools.”

Click here to read the full prepared text of Villaraigosa’s speech. Or, starting at 5 p.m., go here to watch a livestream of the speech. And check back later at LA School Report for any reactions from the candidates to being chided for their perceived lack of focus on this issue.

Morning Read: Teacher Dismissal Plan Moving Ahead

Teacher Firing Bill Gains Momentum
Legislation that would make it easier to fire teachers accused of sex crimes against children and other serious offenses appears to stand a good chance of reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk after similar measures repeatedly stalled through the years. SD Union-Tribune

Wendy Greuel Re-Starts Campaign With Aggressive Tone
On schools, Greuel said: “I will aggressively and creatively fight to ensure that every dollar is spent in the classroom. I will make sure that our neighborhood teachers, parents and principals are in charge – not downtown bureaucrats.” KPCC (See also LADN)

LAUSD Adds 400 Security Aides at Elementary Schools
Los Angeles Unified has hired more than 440 safety aides to provide security at local elementary schools, part of its plan to bolster campus safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, officials said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: CBS LA

NRA Report Sees Guns as Path to Safety in Schools
A National Rifle Association task force released a 225-page report on Tuesday that called for armed police officers, security guards or staff members in every American school, and urged states to loosen gun restrictions to allow trained teachers and administrators to carry weapons. NY Times
See also: LA Times, KPCC

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Board Member Kayser Relives the 2011 Runoff

Bennett Kayser

Picking up on a comparison LA School Report first made last month, LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser published an op-ed in the LA Daily News last week in which he compared his 2011 runoff against Luis Sanchez to this year’s runoff between District 6 candidates Antonio Sanchez and  Monica Ratliff:

“I beat the big money.  My campaign coffers never topped $35,000. My opponent Luis Sanchez raised more than five times as much.”

Read the full Kayser op-ed in the LA Daily News here. Kayser neglects to mention the $1.4 million the teachers union spent on his behalf, which you can read about here, or the stubborn reality that UTLA has endorsed both Sanchez and Ratliff. For Luis Sanchez’s recollections about the 2011 race — and how it compares to 2013, read here.

Morning Read: Teachers Pass as Students Lag Behind

Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind. NY Times

California’s Largest Teachers Union Now Backs Bill to Ease Firing
Districts have long complained that the process is cumbersome and expensive, but unions have stridently fought attempts to change it.  Union leaders say the new proposal would shorten the dismissal process in a way that still allows charges against teachers to be handled fairly. San Jose Mercury News

Want to Teach Better? New Study Says Use Your Hands
One key to more effective teaching could be as simple as talking with your hands, according to a new study from the University of Iowa and Michigan State University. KPCC

Final Count in L.A. Election Due Tuesday After Three-Week Delay
Three weeks after the Los Angeles primary election, the city will announce the final vote count Tuesday in races for mayor, City Council and other local offices. LA Times

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Calendar: Registration & Vote By Mail Schedule

Mark it on your calender: Important voter registration and vote-by-mail deadlines are coming up for Los Angeles’ May 21 runoff election for the District 6 seat on the LAUSD School Board:

May 6, 2013 (Monday): The last day to register to vote in the May runoff election. (If you still haven’t registered, go here to register to vote online.)

May 14, 2013 (Tuesday): The last day to apply by mail for a vote-by-mail ballot in the May runoff election.

May 20, 2013 (Monday): The last day to drop off a vote-by-mail ballot at the Los Angeles City Clerk’s election division office. (You can also fill out and mail in the vote-by-mail ballot application on the back of an official sample ballot.)

May 21, 2013 (Tuesday): Runoff election day. It’s also the last day to drop off a vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place by closing time at 8:00 p.m.

As you may recall, Board Member Steve Zimmer won his primary challenge against Kate Anderson by building up a large advantage in early vote by mail ballots. At stake in the runoff is a School Board seat representing the East San Fernando Valley’s District 6, the mayor’s office, city controller, city attorney, and several city council seats.

Morning Read: Villaraigosa Fell Short on Education, Says KPCC

Why Antonio Villaraigosa Fell Short as LA’s Education Mayor
As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares to step down in June, among the achievements he takes credit for during his eight years in office is improving one institution that the law gives him no authority over: the public schools. KPCC

CTC to Survey New Teacher Prep Grads for Data on System Improvements
Concerned that too many of California’s teacher preparation programs don’t measure up to the state’s high standards, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing is set to undertake a data collection program aimed at pin-pointing strengths and weaknesses of specific institutions. SI&A Cabinet Report

California School Districts Send out Far Fewer Pink Slips
Thanks to a boost in money for public education, California school districts have issued just 3,000 pink slips to teachers this year, a dramatic drop from the 20,000 sent out last year, the California Teachers Assn. reported Monday. LA Times

School District Discriminated Against Gay Students, ACLU Alleges
In a letter from the ACLU, the Hesperia Unified School District is accused of discriminating against gay and lesbian students, including refusing to allow girls to wear tuxedos to the prom. LA Times
See also: AP

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Looking Back at the 2011 Runoff

2011 School Board runoff competitors Bennett Kayser and Luis Sanchez

At first glance, the upcoming District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) runoff election between Antonio Sanchez and Monica Ratliff looks like it might share many similarities to the District 5 election two years ago.

The 2011 runoff (for an area running from Los Feliz to Maywood) pitted reform candidate Luis Sanchez (no relation to Antonio) against union-backed candidate Bennett Kayser.

Like this year’s District 6 election, the race attracted substantial outside spending, went into a runoff, and its battle lines were drawn around issues like teacher evaluations, budget plans, and school choice.

This year’s race has “a similar dynamic” to 2011, according to Luis Sanchez, who now works with the California Endowment.

There are a number of big differences, however — including that the 2013 race hasn’t yet been dominated by candidates and outside advocates attacking each other.

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April 11 Next Disclosure Date for Independent Committees

Now that the dust has started to settle around last week’s LAUSD Board primary election, you might be wondering what outside spending groups have in store for the May runoff election for the District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) Board seat.

However, it may be awhile. The Coalition for School Reform and UTLA-PACE won’t have to report contributions or expenditures again until April 11, when the next round of pre-election reports will be due at the LA City Ethics Commission. UTLA-PACE, which is a longstanding general purpose committee that is active throughout different election cycles, doesn’t have to provide updates until it begins spending, so we may have to wait until after April 11 to see its reports.

Previous posts: Union Schedules Special Session To Reconsider Endorsements; School Board Primary Averaged $55 Per Vote

School Board Primary Averaged $55 Per Vote

With low voter turnout and sky-high spending, the cost per vote from Tuesday’s primary election — an average of $55 per vote across three districts — is pretty eye-popping.

However, the rate varied widely across the three races:

According to numbers from the LA City Clerk’s office and the LA City Ethics Commission, the per-vote cost in District 2 (East LA) was the highest, at $71 per vote — the result of low voter registration, 13 percent turnout, and the $1.9 million that candidates’ campaigns and outside groups spent.

The cost per vote was $52 dollars in the District 4 Westside race. Though overall spending was the biggest of the three races — $3 million — so was the turnout, which kept the vote cost from surpassing District 2’s.

In the East Valley’s District 6, where the race will go into a May 21 runoff, the price per vote was, comparatively speaking, a modest $42. The union did not spend any money in this race, and so spending was limited to “just” $1.3 million.

The rates come out even higher when calculated by candidate, as done by the Daily News. The campaign to elect Steve Zimmer cost $33 per vote, compared to the pro-Anderson effort’s $52 per vote.  The effort to support Monica Garcia cost about $85 per vote, and the effort to support Antonio Sanchez cost $90 per vote.

Morning Read: Union to Re-Interview Runoff Candidates

Big Money in L.A. School Board Races
UTLA is apparently, re-interviewing the two remaining candidates. It sat out that race in the first round by endorsing all three candidates and spending no money. LA Times

Runoff Campaigns Kick Off, City Hall Girds for More Cuts
The mayoral campaign entered a new phase Wednesday, as Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel began positioning themselves for the May 21 runoff. LA Times

Both Sides Claim Win in Costly L.A. School Board Race
The coalition, a political action committee aligned with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, raised nearly $4 million to spend in support of of Ms. Anderson, Ms. Garcia, and Antonio Sanchez, a candidate for an open seat in District 6. Mr. Sanchez will be back on the ballot in May for a runoff against Monica Ratliff. EdWeek

Higher Standards Coming for State’s Intern Teachers
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing signaled Thursday its intention to increase training requirements for intern teachers, including Teach for America members, before they’re allowed to teach any of the state’s 1.4 million students who are English learners. EdSource
See also: LA Times, SI&A Cabinet Report

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Voter Turnout Far Below Expectations

Yesterday’s primary election attracted millions of dollars in outside spending, but it couldn’t attract Los Angeles voters’ attention.

Citywide, only 16 percent of LA voters cast ballots at the polls, according to figures from the LA City Clerk’s office.

This was far below initial expectations. According to political consultants LA School Report spoke with before the election, insiders had been projecting a 20 – 25 percent turnout rate. Continue reading

Morning Read: Incumbents Prevail; Runoff for District 6

2 Incumbent LA Unified School Board Members Keep Seats in Costly Races
Los Angeles Unified School Board incumbents Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia kept their seats in a hotly contested election that attracted nearly $6 million, putting it on track to be the most costly school board election in the district’s history. Zimmer won with 52 percent of the vote and Garcia with 56 percent. A third race for district 6 is headed for a runoff. KPCC
See also: LA Times, LA Daily News, LA Weekly, Reuters, LA School Report, EdWeek

$5M in Outside Funds Helps Reelect LAUSD Board Members
Incumbents Monica Garcia and Steve Zimmer survived a bruising reelection campaign with millions in funds from non-local sources. CBS LA

Dismal Turnout Puts Greuel and Garcetti in Mayoral Runoff, Sales Tax Bombs
After months of build-up and millions of dollars spent on a blizzard of television ads and mailers, Los Angeles voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti as their next potential mayor. Turnout in the city races was dismal at 16% in a contested mayoral primary. LA Times
See also: LAist

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Morning Read: Voters Head to Polls for School Board, Mayor

With Reform Fervor in the Air, Local School Board Elections See Record Outside Spending
This year, huge amounts of money and passion are flowing down the ballot into the school board elections — part of an all-out war over public school reform. KCET
See also: LA School Report

Late Donations Bolster Pro-Deasy School Board Candidates
Two eleventh hour donations have added financial muscle to a campaign seeking to bolster Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy through the results of Tuesday’s Board of Education elections. LA Times

Election Day: L.A. Voters Trickle to Precincts, Vote for New Mayor
Voters and candidates trickled into Los Angeles polling places Tuesday morning, casting ballots in the city’s most sweeping leadership turnover in more than a decade. LA Times

Angelinos Head to Polls to Elect Mayor, School Board
In a little-watched but contentious election in Los Angeles Tuesday, city residents will vote to select a new mayor from five leading candidates, though the race is expected to head to a runoff.Another vote in Los Angeles Tuesday will be for school board, a race that’s garnered national attention and dollars. CNN

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Outside Spending Up $400K Since Friday – Nears $5 Million

Outside interest groups have spent $4.8 million so far on the three LAUSD Board races — an increase of $400,000 just over the weekend.

So far, UTLA has spent $994,000 on two races — District 2 (East LA) and District 4 (Westside/Hollywood) — but has stayed out of the District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) race so far. (See spending totals here.) The union hasn’t reported any sizable late contributions.

The Coalition for School Reform has spent almost $3.1 million on three candidates. Late contributions it has received include $300,000 from the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and $250,000 from Rupert Murdoch’s News America Inc. (See contributions report here and spending totals here.)

Primary election day — March 5 — is only a day away, but the total amount of outside spending is likely to rise as these groups make their final primary pushes today and tomorrow.

Previous posts: Coalition Fields Effort to Avoid Runoffs; Analysis: Air War Vs. Boots On the Ground

Morning Read: All Eyes on School Board Primary

National Attention and Cash in Los Angeles School Vote Much of the attention will also be on the three races for the school board, a battle that involves the mayor, the teachers’ union and a host of advocates from across the country — including New York City’s billionaire mayor — who have poured millions of dollars into the races. NY Times

Outside Cash Prominent in L.A. School Board Races Outside spending is dominating campaigns for three seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education, surpassing $4.4 million through Friday. LA Times

Profiles of Candidates for Los Angeles Board of Education A brief look at candidates for three L.A. school board seats. LA Times

Tuesday’s Election Could Redefine Los Angeles City Government In an election that will redefine Los Angeles for up to the next eight years, voters on Tuesday will have the rare opportunity to elect three new citywide leaders, plus a majority of the City Council and the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Daily Breeze

Election 2013: Reform at Center of LA Unified Race The race for three seats on the LAUSD board has shaped up into a pitched battle for control of the city’s public schools, with reform-minded candidates hoping to maintain the momentum of Superintendent John Deasy and union-backed rivals trying to halt it. LA Daily News

Candidates for Mayor Take Different Tacks on Education Eric Garcetti has the backing of the teachers union and wants to unite the union and reformers. Wendy Greuel wants local decision-making. Jan Perry wants a non-voting seat on the board. LA Times

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Morning Read: Will Board Race Motivate Voters?

Races for LA Unified’s School Board Attract Millions; Will They Also Attract Voters?
Based on the media coverage and celebrity endorsements this LAUSD school board election has received, you’d think sitting on the seven-member panel was one of the most glamorous jobs in LA. KPCC

How Outside Spending Is Changing the Race to Represent Northeast San Fernando Valley Schools
Sanchez has been able to hire three paid staff members, had more than a dozen mailers go out on his behalf and was the subject of a commercial that aired during Lakers games. KPCC

Steve Zimmer and Kate Anderson Face off on AirTalk
Both candidates talk about where they stand on Deasy, why Zimmer does not agree with charter school expansion and Anderson is pushing for it, and if teacher evaluations can be tied to student performance.. KPCC

L.A. Unified, Other School Districts Seek New Measures of Success
Nine California school districts, including Los Angeles Unified, will apply to the U.S. Department of Education for relief from rules that, over time, have labeled most schools that receive federal funds as failing, officials announced Thursday. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News

Arne Duncan’s Education ‘Sequester’ Claims Questioned
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has long been seen as an administration asset. But this past week, he’s also been the chief spokesman for the White House claims about the potential impact of sequestration on education jobs. Now those estimates have run afoul of fact-checkers. EdWeek

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Morning Read: Spending Up 977 Percent Over 2009

L.A. School Board Race Tops Spending Records
The city’s ethics commission, which tracks campaign finances, reported this week that independent expenditures in the three board races represent a 977 percent increase over the primary four years ago, the last time these three seats were up for grabs. EdWeek
See also: LA School Report

Mayoral Rivals Talk Like Supply-Siders; Spending Roars
While the candidates are going to pains to try to differentiate themselves before the March 5 election, they found one issue to agree upon unanimously at an education forum in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday — their desire to retain John Deasy. LA Times

Mayoral Candidates Discuss Ways to Improve Schools at Education Summit
The five candidates running to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each vowed Wednesday to continue his commitment to public education, along with his strong support of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and vision for reform. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, Neon Tommy

Keep Questions Coming About L.A. Candidates’ Union Cash
Official records show union political action committees account for the vast majority of the more than $7.5 million spent on citywide, City Council and L.A. school board races so far in the form of unrestricted independent expenditures. Business groups can’t keep up. LA Daily News Editorial

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