These organizations are backed by moneyed interests, Republican operatives and out-of-state Wall Street billionaires dedicated to school privatization and trampling on teacher and worker rights.
The delegates and their union backers are responding to a surge of Democratic support for reform ideas like charter schools, test-based accountability, and teacher performance evaluations. Democratic LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Coalition for School Reform backed reform-minded officials in LA’s recent Board of Education elections. The group boasts among its biggest donors blue power-brokers like Michael Bloomberg, Hollywood executives, and other individuals who are hardly “Republican operatives.”The results for Villaraigosa’s reformers in the LA school board elections were mixed, but the momentum is clearly on the reformers’ side. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a bipartisan consensus begin to emerge on education reform. Policies like teacher evaluation and parental choice are increasingly supported by elements of both the Right and the Left. The Democratic politicians and donors pushing for such reforms seem to have weighed the costs to unionized teachers and decided that they are worth the benefits to students.We can’t say whether this means the reformers will win the day in California, but it’s safe to say that that the political coalition that once held the Democratic Party together is cracking. The Democratic Party is splintering between the providers of public services on one side and the consumers of those services on the other. In many ways, California is the biggest battlefield in this civil war.[Antonio Villaraigosa image courtesy of Getty Images; Teacher strike image courtesy of Shutterstock]