Morning Read: Study Praises Teacher Evaluation Tool

First Academic Study of Controversial LA Unified Teacher Evaluation Program
An academic study of a teacher evaluation method that looks at how much teachers are able to improve students’ test scores gave the pilot program a good grade. But the study comes too late — the teacher’s union and Los Angeles Unified School District agreed not to use the measure in the district’s new teacher evaluation protocols. KPCC


L.A. Unified Fight Focuses on Breakfast Program
Los Angeles Unified will eliminate a classroom breakfast program serving nearly 200,000 children, reject more school police, cut administrators and scale back new construction projects unless the school board votes to approve them, according to Supt. John Deasy. LA Times
See also: LA School Report, Sac Bee, LA Daily News, KPCC


‘Super PACs’ Negate Spending Limits in L.A. Mayor’s Race
As groups raising funds for Greuel and Garcetti pour money into the race — a record $6.1 million so far — voter-approved contribution restrictions become meaningless. LA Times


Eric Garcetti for Mayor
Perhaps most important, Garcetti has demonstrated the capacity to grow, learn and improve his performance. He admits mistakes, such as his vote in favor of a settlement allowing, for a time, virtually unregulated digital billboards. LAT (editorial page)


L.A. Schools Finish One-Two in National Academic Decathlon
After months of preparation, Granada Hills Charter High wins the title for the third straight year. Finishing second was El Camino Real Charter High, a six-time national champion. LA Times
See also: Sac Bee

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Morning Read: Did UTLA Leaders Make a Deal With Candidate?

Rumor of Deal Roils Teachers Union
The leadership of the Los Angeles teachers union is roiled over whether its officials made a private deal with a Board of Education candidate whom critics view as an ally of anti-labor forces. LA Times


New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Donates $350,000 to LAUSD Reformer’s Campaign
With the runoff now less than a month away, Bloomberg has given the coalition an additional $350,000 – again at Villaraigosa’s request – to support the election of Antonio Sanchez to the District 6 seat. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report


Teacher Evaluation Bill Opposed by Unions Dies in Committee
Legislation that would have required more frequent evaluations of educators was killed by a state Senate committee Wednesday under strong opposition from teachers’ unions. LA Times
See also: LA School Report, SI&A Cabinet Report


Jerry Brown Vows Battle With Democratic Critics of Education Plan
Gov. Jerry Brown offered a spirited defense of his plan to overhaul the state’s education system Wednesday and warned Democratic critics of his plan that they were “going to get the battle of their lives” if they attempt to change key parts of his proposal. LA Times
See also: EdSource, Fresno Bee

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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.

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: 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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District 2’s Garcia Responds to Negative Mailers

An anti-Garcia UTLA mailer

The teachers union political action committee has allocated the majority of its expenditures in the East LA District 2 School Board election — almost $90,000 — to attack incumbent LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and bolster the chances of forcing a runoff between Garcia and one of her three union-endorsed candidates.

But are the attacks accurate or, as LA Times columnist Steve Lopez recently noted about both sides’ campaign mailers, misleading?

In an interview with LA School Report, Garcia refuted most of the claims made against her and took responsibility for those that were accurate.

“I think the other side is using a strategy that is focused on not offering anything, but on just saying no to reform, to change.”

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Outside Spending Skyrockets

A massive spending spree of $3.4 million by outside groups has broken records in the Los Angeles School Board races with still seven days left before the election. That’s an increase of $1 million in just a week, according to the latest figures available at the LA City Ethics Commission.

Low voter turnout and a fierce battle between two groups split along ideological lines could make this race one of the costliest per-voter in nation. Based on turnout figures from past elections, outside groups could spend more than $29 for each vote in this School Board election. That dwarfs the outside per-vote spending in the 2012 Presidential race, which was estimated by ProPublica to cost $8 a vote.

Continue reading for details on the big influx of money. Continue reading

Morning Read: District 4 Race Will Affect Entire District

Could a Single School Board Race Determine the Future of LAUSD?
If Zimmer loses to challenger Kate Anderson, both sides agree, that will permanently tip the scales 4 to 3 in favor of a board that pushes for more charter expansion and data based teacher evaluations.KPCC


Donations From Independent Groups Shaping City, LAUSD Elections
Independent expenditures continue to dominate the school board election, with reform- and union-backed organizations battling to guide the future of the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report


In Their Words: L.A. Mayor Candidates Answer the Times’ Questions
Readers will find that some answers are clear and emphatic, and some are carefully hedged. A couple of candidates left questions unanswered. But in a race where the competitors are scrambling to break away from the pack, voters can find a few revealing contrasts. LA Times


California Trails Nation in Reading, Math and Science, Report Finds
California has largely trailed the rest of the country in reading, mathematics and science in the last decade, according to an analysis released Thursday of test results from the five most populous states. LA Times
See also: SI&A Cabinet Report

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D4 Challenger Anderson Rebuts Union Attack

Kate Anderson

As we reported here last week, the union independent expenditure committee called UTLA-PACE has sent out a campaign mailer to attack LAUSD Board candidate Kate Anderson, who is challenging incumbent Steve Zimmer in the Westside/Hollywood’s District 4.

But according to Anderson, the claims being made are “completely misleading:”

The mailer scrutinizes Anderson’s attendance record while she served on the LA County Child Care Planning Committee and accuses her of running for the School Board simply because she’s angling for a higher political office.

According to Anderson, however, her husband Peter often showed up at the meetings in her stead – a common practice. The mailer also neglects to mention that the attendance of other members at Committee’s meetings was similarly inconsistent. “For me, it was a volunteer work. I was serving on the committee as a parent, while also working at my law firm,” Anderson said.

As for the claim that she’s not dedicated to education issues? “The idea that I’m not committed to kids to ludicrous,” Anderson said.

Previous posts: UTLA-PACE Attacks District 4 Challenger Anderson; Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative; Attack on Zimmer Wasn’t from Anderson Campaign

Update: Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative

The latest independent expenditure (IE) committee numbers posted on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission website show an eye-popping $2.2 million in spending by outside groups thus far.

That number is sure to grow in the next two weeks before the March 5 primary election date.

The messaging has already gone negative in the more contentious races in District 2 (East LA) and District 4 (Hollywood to the Westside), and given past experience, it’s possible that the mailers and advertisements will become even more negative in upcoming days.

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Morning Read: Times Endorses Garcia, Anderson, & Ratliff

LA Times Announces Endorsements for L.A. School Board 
We would prefer to see more candidates who fall between the two ideological poles, but the realities of L.A. Unified politics sometimes make this impossible. LA Times


School Board Candidates Debate Bloomberg’s $1-Million Donation
A record-setting donation to Los Angeles school board contests quickly became a topic Wednesday night at the first candidate forum after word broke of the $1-million contribution by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. LA Times
See also: LA School Report


Education Reformers Speak out About Garcetti and Greuel’s Silence on Parent Trigger
After Los Angeles Unified School District board members approved a Parent Trigger earlier this week, mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel refused to comment on the historic vote, which allows parents to take over a chronically failing elementary school in West Adams. LA Weekly

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Morning Read: Election Poised to Break $4.5 Million Record

LA Unified School Board Race Could Break Fundraising Records This Election
The 2013 school board races have barely started and they have already attracted more than $4 million in donations. KPCC
See also: LA School Report


Union Wins Right to Represent Valley Charter School
The Los Angeles teachers union announced Wednesday night that it has won the right to negotiate a contract for teachers and counselors at a West San Fernando Valley charter school. LA Times


Open Letter to New York Mayor Bloomberg
Perhaps I haven’t pleased everyone in my pursuit to make our student’s education a priority, and by eschewing politics to pursue education reform I’ve offended the extremes of the education debate. Venice Patch Op-Ed by LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer


Slate Mailer Sleaze in L.A.
If you are on record as ever having voted in an L.A. municipal election, this month your mailbox will jam up with photo-filled mailers in advance of the March 5 primary for mayor, City Council, city attorney, controller, Los Angeles Unified School Board and community college trustees. LA Weekly

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Morning Read: Mayoral Front-Runners Duck “Trigger” Question

Los Angeles Unified School District Approves Historic Parent Trigger, L.A. Mayoral Candidates Weigh in or Stay Mum
Garcetti and Greuel have been hesitant to say exactly where they stand on the Parent Trigger issue, even though it has been supported by such Democratic political stars as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Newark Mayor Corey Booker. LA Weekly
See also: LA Times


LAUSD Board Votes Down Proposed Staff Layoffs; Approves iPads
The LAUSD school board voted Tuesday to cancel more than 200 proposed pink slips, ensuring the district will not lose any more health and human services employees in the coming academic year. KPCC
See also: LA Daily News, CBS LA, LA School Report

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Update: UTLA-PACE Spends, Bloomberg Donates

New independent expenditure (IE) numbers posted late yesterday on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission website show a spike in spending on behalf of supported candidates, including $138,000 spent by UTLA-PACE, the political arm of United Teachers Los Angeles, the first such spending that’s been posted.

In the meantime, the Coalition for School Reform has just announced a $1 million contribution from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Mayor Bloomberg is the most important voice in education reform today,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a Coalition press release. “It is an honor to have his support, and we deeply appreciate his willingness to invest in our students’ futures here.”

District 2: This race in downtown LA could top records when all is said and done. So far, City Ethics reports that UTLA-PACE has spent $51,000 against LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia. Garcia herself has lots of outside help: the Coalition for School Reform has spent $251,000; SEIU has spent $71,000, and the LA County Federation of Labor spent $44,000, for a total of $366,000 on her behalf.

District 4: The biggest combined spending is in this Westside race, where incumbent School Board member Steve Zimmer faces an expensive challenge by Kate Anderson. According to City Ethics, UTLA-PACE has spent $86,000 on direct mailers and phone banking to support his reelection bid. He’s the only candidate who is getting combined union backing: in addition to UTLA, SEIU Local 99 has spent $87,000, and the LA County Federation of Labor has spent $42,000, for a total of $215,000 of outside money on his behalf. His opponent, Kate Anderson, is also getting big help from the outside: the Coalition for School Reform has spent a total of $269,000 to boost her race.

District 6: Outside money in the East San Fernando Valley race centers on one candidate, Antonio Sanchez, who has gotten help from the Coalition for School Reform to the tune of $280,000, with SEIU kicking in $69,000 and the LA County Federation spending $44,000 for a total of $393,000 on his behalf. Sanchez and his two opponents, Monica Cano and Maria Ratliff, have all been endorsed by UTLA, but so far, the City Ethics website has not reported any spending by UTLA-PACE in this race.

Previous posts: District 4 Candidates Air YouTube Ads, Schedule Appearances; Coalition, SEIU, County Fed Spend on Candidates; UTLA Focus: Defend Zimmer, Defeat Garcia

Clerical Error Accounts for Disclosure Discrepancy*

LA School Report has learned that the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission is at fault in an election disclosure discrepancy reported here earlier today. According to the Commission, due to human error, the City Ethics site did not make public independent expenditures (IEs) made by the teachers union political arm, UTLA-PACE, for LAUSD school board candidates.

Late today, a city official from the Ethics Commission called LA School Report to say that UTLA-PACE had in fact disclosed its IE spending to the Commission on time, but due to a clerical error, the paperwork was not filed properly at the Commission.

According to election disclosure laws an independent expenditure committee must report spending made on behalf of candidates within 24 hours, and requires the information is made public on the City Ethics website.

How much money has UTLA-PACE spent to help candidates? All we know for sure is that the numbers reported today by the LA Times (read here), and reported on our site (read here) last week are rendered inaccurate. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see.

*Update: An earlier version of this post directly quoted the Ethics Commission when it should have been a paraphrase; the post has been corrected.