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On Tuesday, June 5th, Californians will go to the ballot to vote in our Primary Election. There are two major races in the California primary election that will affect the charter school and education reform communities:
• the race for Governor; and
• the race for Superintendent of Public Education.
The race for Governor has turned into a very expensive race that pits education reform groups against the traditional education establishment. The same dynamic is playing out in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. To date, education reform supporters have spent over $22 million on both races. The establishment is also spending heavy and I expect the cost for both of the races to exceed $30 when the Primary is over.
The Governor’s race features Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, businessman John Cox, former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, Assemblyman Travis Allen and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin as the leading candidates. Cox and Allen are the Republicans while the others are Democrats. In all of the polls, Gavin has been the consistent leader while Cox and Villaraigosa have jockeyed for second place.
Under California law, the top two candidates advance to the November General Election. With this in mind, interest groups are going all out to support their respective candidate – and Newsom is the favorite candidate of the Teacher’s Union. Villaraigosa has been the recipient of a multi-million dollar television independent expenditure campaign paid for by the education reformers; Cox is self-funding his campaign but has been endorsed by President Trump. If Newsom prevails, the reformers believe he will crack down on charter schools while Villaraigosa is a strong supporter of charter schools.
Ironically, Newsom does not have a long education reform record, but with the money that has been spent against him, he will probably be hostile to their interests if elected. Additionally, Newsom has called for a moratorium on charter schools until conflicts of interest and transparency laws are applied to them.
The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) has the same dynamics as the Governor’s race but with only two major candidates running who are both Democrats. Again, it is the reformers vs. the education establishment. Marshall Tuck formerly ran Green Dot Public Charter Schools and Mayor Villaraigosa’s schools in Los Angeles. He has a strong education reform record and ran and lost a very close race against the current SPI, Tom Torlakson, in 2014.
The race has seen both sides spend millions in support of their respective candidate. Tony Thurmond is a two-term Assemblyman from the Oakland/Berkley/Richmond area. He currently serves on the Assembly Education Committee and is a strong supporter of the education establishment. If elected he would pursue efforts that would make it harder for charter schools to operate in California.
Please remember to get out and vote at the California Primary Election on June 5th.
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