May 27, 2013
Fifth-grade teacher Monica Ratliff won a seat on the Los Angeles school board – against an opponent who had raised about 50 times as much money as Ratliff had.
Ratliff’s opponent, Antonio Sanchez, had raised more than 2.2 million dollars – an unusually high amount for a school board race – thanks to some very generous donations, including from billionaires Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg. Sanchez also had the electoral machine of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa campaigning for him.
The billionaires put so much money and campaign effort behind Sanchez because he was a staunch supporter of L.A. schools superintendent John Deasy, who has launched an open attack on teachers’ job protections such as tenure and seniority rules in layoffs. Deasy wants to reduce the district’s teacher payroll – which is exactly what the billionaire bosses have set their eyes on, in L.A. and everywhere else.
The low turnout for this election may prohibit sweeping conclusions. However, one thing can be said: for the second time in two months, voters in L.A. voted against a candidate backed by billionaires who claim to be “education reformers.”
These billionaires might think they’re fooling people with their talk about education “reform,” but from DC to LA, voters are showing they’re on to their games.