Primary elections: LA delivers for public education

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Left to right, candidates Gavin Newsom for governor and Tony Thurmond for state superintendent of public instruction.
Left to right, candidates Gavin Newsom for governor and Tony Thurmond for state superintendent of public instruction.

Los Angeles voters delivered for public education in yesterday’s primary election, sending Gavin Newsom and Tony Thurmond into the runoffs for governor and state superintendent and rejecting Antonio Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial bid.
These wins happened despite the unprecedented spending spree by charter industry lobby and their billionaire funders, who laid out more than $30 million to support Villaraigosa for governor and former Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck for state superintendent.
“Voters rejected a handful of wealthy outsiders pushing their agenda to privatize public schools,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “It’s clear that Californians want a fully funded, sustainable public education system — not a system, and politicians, that prioritize growth opportunities for charter operators over the education of all students.”
UTLA endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor and Tony Thurmond for state superintendent because they are committed to investing in public education. California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, ranks 46th in the country in per-pupil funding. That dismal level of funding leads to other shameful numbers: California is 48th in the country in teacher-student ratios, and on average there is one school counselor per 945 students (the recommended ratio is 1 for every 250).
UTLA’s campaign generated more than 6,000 hours of phone calls to voters and helped push Newsom and Thurmond to victory. In LA County, where former mayor Villaraigosa was expected to do well, Newsom garnered 32% of the vote (similar to his statewide percentage), and Villaraigosa’s 13% statewide percentage rose to only 22%. In the race for superintendent, LA County flipped the statewide outcome, with Tony Thurmond winning the county with 38% of the vote compared to Tuck’s 33%. (Because of the error that left 118,000 voters off the roster in LA County, there are still many votes to be tallied. While we are watching to make sure every ballot is counted, ultimately the count will not affect the overall results.)
In the fall, LA educators will double down on our efforts for Newsom and Thurmond in the general election as we ramp up our campaign for a fair contract. UTLA has been in bargaining with the LA Unified School District for more than a year. Even with a projected $1.7 billion reserve, LAUSD has refused to make progress on UTLA’s contract proposals that would help sustain the district into the future, including lower class sizes, fair pay, Less testing and culturally relevant curriculum, more voice for educators and parents, regulation of charter schools, and more counselors, school nurses, psychologists, and teacher librarians to work with our students.


UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, represents more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals who work in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in charter schools.