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How education fared in California state races

LA School Report | November 9, 2016

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california-state-flag-smallerHere are overnight results from some education-related races in California. For national races with education impact, follow The 74’s Election Day live blog throughout today.

Incumbents Sweep Oakland School Board Race:

A heated Oakland school board contest fueled by the growth of charter schools failed to knock any of the incumbents out. Jody London, Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, Roseann Torres and James Harris will all be returning to the board, the East Bay Express is reporting. Great Oakland Public Schools, a school reform group, endorsed all the incumbents except Torres, which it said was not a reflection of her stance on school choice, but rather her poor attendance record at board meetings. The teachers union backed Torres and several challengers in a crowded field of 12 candidates vying for four seats. The race was also seen as something of a referendum on Oakland’s reform-minded superintendent, Antwan Wilson, who has tried to bring universal enrollment to the district where nearly 25 percent of students attend charters schools. —Kate Stringer

Union-backed Candidates Sweep San Francisco School Board Races:

Two incumbents and two new members were elected to the San Francisco school board, where four of the seven seats were on the ballot. All four winners were endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco; the one incumbent not supported by the local union lost her re-election bid. Two candidates backed by charter advocates — including Phillip Kim, who works for KIPP charter schools — won little support. Incumbent and Board Chair Matt Haney, who received a surprising endorsement from President Obama, was the top vote-getter. The board was in the news earlier this year for discontinuing its contract with Teach For America. —Matt Barnum

Charter-supporting Dems Win Two State Legislative Seats in Northern California:

In two California legislative races closely watched by education observers, Democrats supported by charter advocates bested fellow Democrats backed by teachers unions.

In a state Senate district based in San Francisco, Scott Wiener narrowly beat Jane Kim with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Los Angeles Times. The race pitted two candidates with many similarities against each other: both were Democrats and members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. But the candidates appeared to diverge on education, with Wiener receiving backing from the powerful charter lobby and Kim drawing support from the powerful teachers union.

A similar divide played out in other races across the state, which has a relatively unique primary system that allows members of the same party to face each other in the general election. Another such race pitted Mae Torlakson against Tim Grayson for an East San Francisco Bay area Assembly seat. Torlakson, the wife of California’s state superintendent of public instruction, was backed by unions, while Grayson got support from charter advocates. Grayson won easily with over 60 percent of the vote. On his campaign site he pledged to advocate “for non-profit charter schools in regions where they provide a way to ‘tailor’ education to the needs of a community’s student.” —Matt Barnum

Charter Supporter Ro Khanna Beats Incumbent for California Congressional Seat:

In a bitter Congressional race that pitted two Democrats against each other, Ro Khanna ousted incumbent Mike Honda for this Silicon Valley seat. The race was a re-match from 2014, and although education wasn’t a major factor in the election, it was still something of a proxy battle between two factions of the Democratic party: Khanna emphasized his support for charter schools as a way of highlighting his independence, while Honda, a former teacher himself, was endorsed by California teachers unions. Honda may have lost in part because of an ongoing ethics probe into whether he improperly used taxpayer dollars meant for his office staff to fund his 2014 race against Khanna. —Matt Barnum

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