For the news and views you might have missed
Before going through the results of the elections, one last note about the Walton’s. I came across a list of candidates running for election or re-election who received donations from the Waltons this year.
It is interesting to note that Obama and Romney got about the same amount of money from the Waltons. I suppose that’s called “hedging your bets”. The list of cash recipients is long and worth a look. Rick Larsen, a House Democrat in Washington State, received $7,500 from the Waltons. You might want to see if one of your representatives is on the list.
There is another list that is being compiled of the elections around the country where big money was spent on campaigns from school board candidates to state legislation.
For more information on who donated big to campaigns related to education, check out the Registry of Attempts to Buy Education Elections by Prizatizers.
Now on to the election results.
Disclaimer: As a not-for-profit organization, Parents Across America (PAA) does not endorse candidates; any opinions on specific races in the reports to follow are those of individual members only.
It’s a close horse race in our state with 50.5% voting for charter schools, in no small part due to the millions that have poured into our state in an effort to privatize our schools, to 49.5% opposed to charter schools.
The tally has not been completed because there are still about 600,000 ballots to count due to mail-in voting. Final results for King County, where Seattle is located, have not come in yet but so far the majority of votes in Seattle and the surrounding area have gone against charter schools (Go Seattle!)
Regarding the funding of education:
From a Parents cross America member in Arizona:
In Arizona, we lost Proposition 204, a one-cent sales tax that would have created a permanent funding mechanism for education.
We passed a Prop 118, a constitutional amendment stabilizing trust land payouts to schools for the next 8 years. It’s estimated this will cost schools 85 million dollars a year.
California voted to tax the rich and keep down state college tuition costs. No more wringing of hands by the rich on what to do with the poor uneducated masses…start paying for it!
California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, eager to show quick results from newly passed twin tax hikes he promoted to avoid drastic education cuts, joined state university officials on Wednesday to announce an immediate rollback in tuition rates.
Officials said new revenues from temporary tax increases approved by voters on Tuesday allows the 23-campus California State system, the nation’s largest four-year state university network, to avert a $250 million mid-year budget cut.
A 9 percent tuition hike, raising annual fees by $249 per semester for 2012-2013 academic year, was approved by the university’s board of trustees in November of last year in anticipation of those cuts.
But with passage of sales and income tax hikes in a ballot measure approved 54 percent to 46 percent, annual tuition fees for full-time undergraduate students in-state will now revert back to $5,472, the same rate as in the previous academic year.
“The election last night was a clear and resounding victory for children, schools, and the California dream,” Brown told a news conference. “Instead of the state borrowing, hat in hand, from our school districts, we’re going to have enough money to fund the schools as our constitution requires.”
To read this article in full, go to the Huffington Post.
In Oakland, CA, from a Parents Across America member:
A slate of affiliated school board candidates won their elections and the ed reform mindset is about to take full control of the school board here. I’m expecting to see an increase in the number of school closures and an increase in the number of charter school approvals.
I expect that this new group will probably get quite close to finishing the Oakland Unified School District off. Market share-wise, privatized charter schools currently enroll a full one-third of Oakland’s non-tuition paying students (12,500 in charter schools vs. 36,260 in district schools).
SCHOOL BOARD RACE IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – An unprecedented amount of money ($184,980) was given to the PAC that was started by an organization conceived and led by a former TFAer who was Special Assistant to our succession of three Broad-trained State Administrators (Great Oakland Public Schools). He was a Broad Resident at the time. The PAC was set up to support the campaigns of a slate of three new, reformy candidates. It looks like all of them won.
Almost all of GOPS PAC’s money came from three entities: one multimillionaire from Oakland (T. Gary Rogers, former Dreyer’s Ice Cream CEO; $49,900), one billionaire from San Francisco (Arthur Rock, octogenarian venture capitalist; $49,000), and the California Charter Schools Association ($49,995). More here.
From a Parents Across America member in Portland, OR:
In Oregon, we voted down a repeal of an estate tax. We voted to reform our corporate kicker to have those funds go to K-12 when they would normally kick back, mostly to out of state corporations. We kept our current Labor Commissioner who is strong on CTE and restoring such classes and shops to our schools, and we won a Democratic House majority, and while I shouldn’t get my hopes up too soon, I think because of the work we have been doing, these Dems will be more vocal against the Governors awful ed plans. Locally in Portland, the big news is that we passed a major construction bond to finally update our facilities. AND, a local arts initiative passed to secure every K-5 student arts education at least once per week.
And now to other issues in education.
From the Parents Across America Newsletter:
The big news in Connecticut is the defeat of the charter revision in Bridgeport. The mayor, Bill Finch, supported by Michelle Rhee, her husband, Kevin Johnson, Michael Bloomberg, ConnCAN, business leaders and more pushed a revision to the city charter that would eliminate an elected school board in favor of one appointed by the mayor. Just over a year ago, in July 2011, Mayor Finch, the President of the State Board of Education, ConnCAN and TFA reps engineered an illegal takeover of Bridgeport’s BOE, which was overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. So, Mayor Finch and his allies aimed their efforts at disenfranchising Bridgeport parents through a revision of the city charter.
Big money was poured into this campaign by Rhee, Bloomberg, ConnCAN, the Connecticut Coalition for Education Reform (a business group), companies like United Illuminating, Aquarian Water, the local hospitals, etc (PAA-er Jonathan Pelto detailed the donors and their likely election law violations at jonathanpelto.com). Ads flooded the airwaves and t-shirt-clad workers staffed the polls yesterday.
PAA-CT member and retired Judge Carmen Lopez, who was instrumental in the lawsuit challenging the illegal board takeover, worked tirelessly to educate the public about the implications of an appointed board. She wrote op-eds, and spoke at gatherings all over the city. BOE members Maria Pereira (also a PAA_CT member) and John Bagley also spoke out. Jonathan Pelto exposed the questionable campaign activities of Rhee and others.
In a surprise David vs. Goliath victory for democracy, the charter revision was defeated by a vote (unofficial) of 11,121 to 9,231.
From Scathing Purple Musings:
Floridians didn’t buy the religious freedom nonsense and defeated Bush’s Amendment 8. Voters saw that it was just another back-channel attempt to legalize vouchers. Nearly 1 million Floridians voted against the measure, clearly showing that republican and independent voters didn’t want it.
From the Parents Across America newsletter:
Rita Solnet of Florida: We had a nail biting night in Florida. We were in danger of having the Florida Senate gain a 2/3 majority. That would enable the most egregious reforms to pass easily. I didn’t go to bed until 4:15 and that was because I had to.
One race– created due to boundary changes between two south FL Senators– was between a friend of mine and a friend to public education, Senator Maria Sachs. This race was hotly contested with over-the-top libelous flyers, malicious and never-ending tv commercials used by the pro-privatizing, pro vouchers, pro cyber charter GOP Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff. (really a new low in tv ads!)
Even though Florida hasn’t finished counting the ballots (another blog!), Senator Sachs did win the election by approximately 52%. This was highly significant and caused tears of joy. For education and for many other issues, regaining her seat was paramount.
Our local (Palm Beach County) School Board race went extremely well. My candidate, Chairman Frank Barbieri, won. He ran unopposed along with another School Board Candidate. We had one difficult seat up for grabs and the charter operators (including Maverick Charters) dumped a lot of money in Christine Jax’ race. However, the community united and rallied for local endorsements and volunteered for former Principal, Michael Murgio. Murgio won w/approximately 51% in a race I thought would have a wider margin. Whew.
Jacksonville (Duval County) elected two pro privatizer board members closely tied to Jeb Bush. This is very sad. Parent allies there are quite upset.
In Orlando (Orange County), one very powerful FL legislator pro privatization – who was slated to be the FL Speaker of the House spent 5 times his opponent and lost the election by 37 votes. Unfortunately they are going through a recount process beginning tomorrow. Stay tuned. I’m in close touch with parent allies there too.
The biggest problem for the Florida Election Results was the Indiana Election Results!!
Tony Bennett is on the short list for Florida Commissioner of Education. The State Board of Ed waited to see if he’d win his bid for re-election as Superintendent of Education for Indiana. Although Bennett reportedly spent ten (10) times his opponent (per Diane Ravitch), he lost his bid for re-election in a big way. That spells trouble for Florida. Parent coalitions were in touch via text and email at 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. and again this afternoon discussing our approach to this troubling scenario.
Now let’s go out and educate the legislators who did win so they’ll know how to vote when duplicitous proposals for legislation land on their desks.
Georgia’s measure, which passed handily on Tuesday, asked voters to amend the State Constitution to allow for a commission that would approve new schools that had been rejected by local school boards.
Opponents, who said that the Constitution did not need to be amended and that charter schools already had routes of appeal, pointed to heavy spending by out-of-state donors, including Alice Walton, the daughter of the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton; Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers; and several companies that manage charter schools. Supporters of the amendment outspent opponents by about 15 to 1.
“Unfortunately, our side of the issue couldn’t be explained to the public on a bumper sticker,” said Herb Garrett, the executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, which opposed the measure, saying it could divert much needed financing from traditional public schools. “That was a pretty steep hill to climb.”
The Georgia amendment was based on ALEC model legislation.
From Scathing Purple Musings:
(Jeb) Bush’s foundation has provided significant political support for Idaho school chief Tom Luna. This from The Answer Sheet:
Idaho voters appear to have overturned the “Luna laws,” three school reform laws named for state schools Superintendent Tom Luna who made them the centerpiece of his agenda. Voters rejected his plan to require high school students to take two online courses and for the state to spend $180 million to lease laptops to make this happen. They also rejected merit pay for teachers that is linked to student standardized test scores and they opposed limits on the collective bargaining rights for teachers.
Mitt Romney won Idaho by a 64 to 36 margin, a clear indication that republican voters rejected Bush-style education reforms.
In Idaho, all three Propositions 1, 2, and 3, also known as the “Luna laws” after their right-wing State Superintendent Tom Luna, lost big. These laws would have weakened teacher tenure and collective bargaining rights, would have imposed merit pay, and would have radically expanded online learning, authorizing the state to spend $180M to lease laptops for students. Bloomberg contributed $200,000 to a secret fund to the campaign to defend these laws.
From Julie Woestehoff, Parents Across America member in Chicago:
The elected, representative school board referendum was overwhelmingly approved in the city precincts where it appeared. Nearly 87% of voters voted YES. This is an advisory referendum, so supporters like PURE and 19th Ward Parents Organization must now take the people’s decision to the state legislature for a change in state law.
From Scathing Purple Musings:
Allow me the opportunity to gloat: So how’s that Chiefs for Change thing going, Jeb? Just a few short months after Gerard Robinson resigned in disgrace in Florida, one of Bush’s hand-picked stars suffered defeat in a red state which Mitt Romney won on Tuesday. Indiana school superintendent Tony Bennett was defeated by a teacher, Glenda Ritz. Over 100,000 more Indianans rejected Bennet’s hyper charter school-voucherism in favor of the wisdom of an educator.
From PAA Founding member Leonie Haimson:
Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett, an aggressively pro-voucher, anti-teacher education chief, and according to Diane Ravitch, “the face of right wing reform in America” was defeated by teacher Glenda Ritz, despite outspending her by more than $1 million. As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported, “His campaign chest of about $1.5 million included contributions from billionaires and hedge-fund managers far from Indiana” including, according to the Huffington Post, an undetermined amount of Bloomberg SuperPAC cash.
From Diane Ravitch’s Blog:
A reader sends news about the school board election in Minneapolis:
“Don’t know if you got Minneapolis school board results. TFAer Josh Reimnitz narrowly defeated Patty Wycoff. Margin was just 650 some votes out of over 21,000.This was a sad one. Dems were divided as normally intelligent Mpls Mayor R.T. Ryback gave his support to Josh, a 26-yr-old that only moved to Mpls last May, and influenced many others to follow. Keith Eliison and other major Dems supported Wycoff, long-time resident, involved activist and trained treacher. We need a major educational effort to Democrats so that more aren’t duped by these corporatist frauds.”
Only a TFA alum could move to a major city in May and have the money and political connections to win a school board election six months later.
Closer to home, the GOP seems to have lost its majority in the NY State Senate — despite receiving a cool $1 million from Bloomberg in September, thought to be the largest single donation ever given to a state party. If a Democratic majority holds, this bodes well for parents, teachers and education advocates who would like the state Legislation to approve more progressive education policies — including the possibility of providing checks and balances to our own extremely unpopular and coercive system of mayoral control, which unlike the citizens of Bridgeport, we never got to vote on.
From a Parents Across America member in Houston, TX:
All 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education were up for election this year based on re-districting. The SBOE, which has been noted for its conservative positions on curriculum standards (as recently documented in the movie, “The Revisionaries,”) will continue to be dominated by Republicans (including some moderates). Some uber-conservatives lost in this election cycle, restoring some balance on the board. With six new faces (including a homeschooler, a creationist, it is likely controversy will continue as science textbooks come up for adoption. And many Texas textbooks are adopted nationally as publishers cater to large purchasers and do not make revisions for each state. I don’t know what impact the adoption of Common Core Standards will have on the textbook process. This blog is a good summary.
Republicans continue to dominate the Texas legislature, but this election cycle eliminated the super-majority of the House and while the Senate has a Republican Majority, its rules have required a supermajority for bills to be heard. A charismatic, pro-public education freshman senator, Wendy Davis D-Fort Worth, retained her seat, which was in jeopardy due to re-districting.
Some legislative leaders in public education retired or were defeated this year, including the chairs of the Senate and House education committees. The Senate Ed Comm chair was named last month, Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who started the legislative Tea Party Caucus. The House chairs will not be appointed until the Speaker is elected in January. There has been a huge turnover in the legislature and a significant loss of institutional memory, which will be challenging as legislators will eventually face a school finance lawsuit decision.
At the Congressional level, Texas elected Ted Cruz, a Tea Party type, over the former House Public Education Chair, Paul Sadler, often recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the best legislators. We added four congressman due to the state’s huge growth in the last decade (4.3 million!) and now have 36 members.
And from another PAA member in Austin, Texas:
Coalition SAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools) had an excellent election day locally in Austin, TX. 4 of the 9 positions on AISD Board of Trustees faced re-election this year. Last year, 3 of these 4 Trustees up for re-election voted for co-locating IDEA charter school on 2 of our public school campuses. They did so over massive public protest of the co-location. The fourth Trustee up for re-election voted against the co-location, but opted not to run for re-election. The board passed the co-location on a 6 to 3 vote last November.
Pleased to announce that the 3 Trustees who voted for co-location of the charter school last November lost their re-election bids this November. Also pleased to announce that an anti-charter, anti-privatization candidate was elected to the retiring Trustee’s position. All 4 newly elected Trustees have clearly stated their belief that “charter schools are not public schools” and that they “support public education!”
In short, if we held the IDEA charter school co-location vote again today, the measure would FAIL by a 6 to 3 vote in the opposite direction! Now that’s the way to flip a school board…celebrations and new hope (after much work) here in Austin.
Please feel free to add information in the comment section below about your state, county or city.
This week I want to end with what is happening to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and what you can do to help.
Check it out:
Here is a link where you can easily donate goods through their gift registry at Amazon.com.
Let’s not forget the victims of Hurricane Sandy and what we have wrought upon ourselves.
It’s time to do better, starting now, for our children and the generations to come.