Measure EE: Tough loss but our movement will win

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UTLA Officers on stage at the 2018 Leadership Conference with fists up.

Yesterday, we lost the Measure EE election

But, we want to start by appreciating you, UTLA members. Many of you participated in precinct walks, community events, phone banks, and making sure to vote and take family and friends with you. It was especially gratifying to see so many new leaders — people who emerged during the strike and the Jackie Goldberg win — walking precincts and taking leadership in the union. 

All of that said, a loss is always disappointing, and the results with Measure EE are no different. We should let ourselves feel and process those emotions now so we can move forward in the future.

Here are some immediate key takeaways:
  • Voters fundamentally trust educators and support the demands we are making for our schools, with our strike being the historic case in point. But many voters do not trust LAUSD.
  • There is economic insecurity among many people, including homeowners and renters.
  • We faced fear from voters from a scorched-earth opposition, led by the LA Chamber of Commerce and aided by the Howard Jarvis Association and key Trump allies like Geoffrey Palmer. They had one purpose: to defend corporate profits at the expense of the students of our city. 
  • The No on EE forces created lies about how the tax would work and fanned the flames of economic insecurity. They attacked not just LAUSD but the civic institution of public education and the educators who serve our students, claiming we are overpaid and our healthcare is too generous. They drove a destructive individualistic message that encouraged voters not to think about the needs of students or the broader city.
  • Make no mistake, the same rich people who fought Measure EE are the same ones who benefit from keeping workers living paycheck to paycheck, without access to decent healthcare, job security, or livable wages.
  • The agenda to starve our public schools will not win as long as we continue to build our movement. From the beginning, we knew there were aspects of the Measure EE campaign that would be an uphill climb. We needed two-thirds majority under an outrageous state law designed to create chronic underfunding at every level for public schools. We had to get a campaign together on a tight timeline to take advantage of the strike momentum and leave us enough time to prepare for March and November 2020 elections. Moreover, our students need resources now — going for EE in June was the only way our students would see the money in 2020.
  • We had to pursue the only mechanism with which cynical state law allows local school districts to raise money — a parcel tax — and craft it into the most progressive tax possible, by moving over 70% of the burden to big business, but still leaving 18% with homeowners, a key voting constituency. Many of those most affected — youth and undocumented parents — could not vote.
  • Even with these challenges, we were right to be bold, build the EE campaign, and take on this fight. And we will never shy away from that as long as the richest state in the nation is 44th out of 50 in school funding. This was the right thing to do. This was the right time to do it. Even in the face of disappointing results, we achieved very important wins in the longer-term struggle for school funding.
Here are some takeaways for the longer term:
  • The City of LA is talking about the chronic underfunding of public schools in a way it never has. This has extended to the state and national levels as Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Maxine Waters, and others supported EE and its broader narrative about underfunding.
  • We partnered with community organizations explicitly focused on systematically increasing voter participation in working-class communities and communities of color. In a district with 85% low-income students and 90% students of color, this is both righteous and necessary.
  • We’ve built a community/labor/elected coalition around addressing school funding that has not before existed in LA. That coalition, which includes some unlikely partners, has decidedly landed on the side of progressive taxation — taxation of business and corporations — as the pathway to improved school funding.
  • The battle for the hearts and minds of LA continues. We’ve made progress in winning over the public on the importance of a quality school in every neighborhood, whether one has children in school or not. But more work must be done on the essential truth that the civic institution of public education must be invested in and nurtured, for our students and for democracy. 
  • Our voter turnout program within UTLA, and externally with community organizations across the city, was very good and took steps forward — but, we need it to get even better.


Moving forward

Over the coming weeks, as more data on the election and voting patterns are available, we will discuss the deeper analysis with you. 

And now we prepare for what is next. The fight for the soul of public education is still strong and righteously needed. We will fight for the implementation of the contract we won through the strike. We will do this through strong school-site organization and representation, and doubling down on the incredible organizing work with parents, youth, and community over the last years.

In March 2020, we take the community/labor/member infrastructure we built with EE and we fight to win the Reform LA initiative, which will redirect monies currently spent on jails to our youth in the form of mental health services and programs. We combine that effort with driving four vibrant LAUSD School Board primary elections. We integrate both of these with calls on every presidential candidate in the March 2020 California primary to commit to fully funding IDEA federally for our special education students. 

Then in November 2020, we take the infrastructure built with EE and the March elections to win the four School Board seats in the general elections and take the majority of the board. And, critically, we take the final step with the project we have been invested in for so long — closing Prop. 13’s corporate loophole by winning the Schools and Communities First ballot measure. This will bring $11 billion to schools and social services. In 2017 and 2018, we gathered the signatures with community and labor across the state to get it on the November 2020 ballot. We use 2019 and 2020 to methodically build — with EE’s coalition and far beyond — what’s needed to win in what will be an epic struggle to get the rich in the wealthiest state in the country to finally pay their fair share.

We can and will do this. Perseverance, hope, and love are what keep us motivated under hardship, and it is also how we will process today’s news. 

You are wonderful. Thank you for your work, every single day, with the students of Los Angeles. This year, through the successful and historic strike, the Jackie Goldberg win, and Measure EE, you have created a movement for public education that LA and California have not seen before, and that is shaping the nation.

Get some rest and relaxation this summer. You absolutely deserve it.

Love to you all. 

Alex Caputo-Pearl
  Daniel Barnhart
Cecily Myart-Cruz
  Alex Orozco
Juan Ramirez
  Arlene Inouye

Gloria Martinez


Jeff Good