School Board Races to Watch Nov 3

With less than a week to go until the 2020 election, we’re taking a look at some of the school board races in California’s largest districts. The stakes are high. And unfortunately, some of the contests have become downright nasty.

Los Angeles Unified

More than $14.9 million has poured into the Los Angeles School Board races. That’s because the winners could truly tip the scales on the Board. Right now, there’s a pretty even split between pro-charter members and those who are seen as allies of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. It’s a proxy war. And it’s about as ugly as you might expect

Districts 3 and 7 are both on the ballot. In District 3, pro-union incumbent Scott Schmerelson is facing a challenge from Marilyn Koziatek. She has the support of charter advocates. In District 7, Patricia Castellanos and Tanya Ortiz Franklin are vying to replace Richard Vladovic, who’s retiring. He has traditionally been the board’s swing vote.

Read more from LAist

San Diego Unified

The teachers unions are kingmakers in SDUSD. According to Voice of San Diego, the teachers union has spent around $100,000 on each of the school board candidates it’s backing. “Meanwhile, two out of three of their opponents haven’t raised any money, at all. Another has raised roughly $1,000.” 

There are three seats in play, but the discrepancy in expenditures suggests this isn’t a real fight for the future of the board. Richard Barrera and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne are both up for re-election. Incumbency and union support render their prospects all but certain.

Long Beach Unified

Two candidates are vying to be the next trustee for Long Beach Unified District 2 since Felton Williams is retiring in December. Tonia Reyes Uranga won 42.6% of the vote in March and Erik Miller garnered 36.5%. Now they’re headed for a runoff. Learn about the candidates’ priorities here

San Francisco Unified and Board of Education

There are four seats up for grabs on the San Francisco Unified Board of Education and 10 candidates in all. Board members Mark Sanchez and Jenny Lam are up for re-election, while Stevon Cook and Rachel Norton have decided not to seek another term. The candidates are:

  1. Educator Matt Alexander 
  2. Teacher Andrew Douglas Alston
  3. Education policy director Kevine Boggess
  4. Special education advocate Alida Fisher 
  5. Criminal defense investigator Dr. Paul Kangas, JD, PhD 
  6. San Francisco Unified Board of Eudcation Member Jenny Lam (incumbent) 
  7. Teacher Genevieve Lawrence 
  8. Parent and non-profit director Michelle Parker
  9. Teacher Nick Rothman
  10. San Francisco Board of Education President Mark Sanchez (incumbent) 

Sacramento City Unified

This is a critical time for Sacramento City Schools. The district is hurting for money and could soon be taken over by the state. The union and the board have been squabbling for a long time, and that is the backdrop against which these races are set.

The Sacramento City Teachers Association’s political action committee is backing four candidates: Lavinia Grace Phillips, who is challenging Board president Jessie Ryan; Jose Navarro, who is challenging Christina Pritchett; Chinua Rhodes, who is competing with Vanessa King for Trustee Area 5; and and Nailah Pope-Harden, who is vying for Area 4 with Jamee Villa.

There is a racial component too, as the Sacramento Bee notes.

The election could change the racial makeup of the school board. Several candidates are people of color, representative of the district’s diverse student population. About 40% of Sacramento City Unified’s students are Latino, 14% are Black and nearly 20% are Asian, according to state data.

Pope-Harden, Phillips and Rhodes are Black, Navarro is Chicano and Vanessa Areiza King is Colombian. Four of the seven current board members are white.

Read more here