Tuesday, April 30, 2013


LA Daily News/Los Angeles News Group Editorial | http://bit.ly/13KFFiF

4/30/2013 05:35:08 PM PDT  ::  For a glimpse of what's wrong with politics in Los Angeles, look no further than the campaign to fill an open seat in the LAUSD's northeast San Fernando Valley district.

On one side is Antonio Sanchez, a politically connected young man who despite having no particular knowledge of district issues (or maybe because of that?) has received more than $2 million worth of support in direct donations and independent expenditures. He has the backing of the big money guns in local education -- the teachers union and the mayor's Coalition for School Reform - and some not-so-local. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $350,000 to his campaign.

On the other side is Monica Ratliff, an experienced, thoughtful L.A. schoolteacher whose main goal is to improve education and the experience of kids in the classroom. But she's not a political player and therefore has collected less than $8,000 for her campaign through small individual donations and no independent expenditures.

In this case, voters ought not to follow the money. Ratliff is the better candidate to continue the work of Nury Martinez as a reformer on the Los Angeles Unified School District board.

That's right. Even though Sanchez has the backing of the Coalition for School Reform, it's not clear if he even supports reform. His previous job was working on the campaign to defeat Proposition 32, which would have limited union money in California politics.

Before that he worked for the L.A. County Federation of Labor and also for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It seems more likely Sanchez has made the right connections, pledged the right loyalties and is being launched into the political scene through the Board of Education as payback.

Ratliff, by contrast, is just a hard-working elementary school teacher who has firsthand understanding of what works and what doesn't in a classroom. And though she's a union chapter chair, she's not a union operative. She has her own thoughts and positions and supports standard reform issues from curbing teacher tenure to encouraging more charter flexibility in individual schools. She has the endorsement of Republican County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, for heaven's sake. This is not a man who supports union hacks.It shouldn't take $2 million to run for a school board seat. But perhaps that's what it takes to buy one. Voters should reject that notion by picking Ratliff on May 21.

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