Antonio Villaraigosa just received the endorsement of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) in San Diego, California at their annual conference this week. As you may or should know, Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Mayor of Los Angeles, is running in a pretty crowded field for Governor of California. And actually, there are several great candidates. Delaine Eastin, who was the first woman to be elected superintendent of public instruction, is great. If elected, she would be California’s first woman governor. I do like her progressive platform. Then there is another really great candidate, California State Treasurer, John Chiang. Chiang would become the first Chinese American Governor if elected. So there are a few good candidates. Not so good, in my humble opinion, is Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. (And by the way, what exactly does one do as Lt. Governor?)
Gavin Newsom was recently endorsed by the most powerful special interest lobby group in the state. The same folks that endorse all the establishment hacks, you might have heard of them, California Teachers Association (CTA). They control a majority of the legislators currently in Sacramento. If you have ever read any of my pieces, you know that I am not a fan for many reasons. We will save that conversation for another day.
Let’s discuss how it came to be that a former organizer with the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) became persona non grata to CTA. It all started when Villaraigosa was Mayor of Los Angeles (after he left the Assembly in which he served as Speaker), and he was approached with the question of why Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was allowing so many kids of color to fall through the cracks, being pushed out and dropped out of school? Why? He was the Mayor, so folks expected him to step up and help. He could have said no. He could have said it was not his job to interfere with LAUSD. He could have turned a blind eye, but he chose not to. Mayor Villaraigosa decided to face the challenge head on, even if it meant upsetting his good friends and long time supporters, CTA.
That thing called accountability that many politicians pretend is important was used to determine how the issues with the hundreds of failing schools in the district would or could be addressed. This really pissed off the adults. In retrospect, Villaraigosa’s moves to affect education have been powerfully successful. This gave students and parents great joy. Student outcomes improved, but CTA railed against Mayor Villaraigosa because he supported various alternatives in addressing the needs and challenges within the district. Specifically, he supported bringing in charter schools and worked to create a series of partnership schools within the district. This infuriated CTA.
So here we are: Antonio Villaraigosa gets snubbed by his former friends even after it’s been proven that his intervention was great for kids. We call that being a champion for kids. The adults have enough champions.
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