Status of Ward Elections Campaign

As I reported before, we have a group working on reforming the school district at a fundamental level, primarily, at this point, through working towards a system of ward elections for school board members. Our organizing effort was distracted somewhat by the failed parcel tax campaign, but we are still moving along. The next milestone is the completion of a proposed map for the petition to establish ward elections. This should be done by the end of the month. Then I’ll be back with more news.

Buying School Boards in Style

I have complained before about the influence of big spending on our own District’s Board races, but LA certainly takes the cake for this as described in this article:

Mayor spent millions on school board races

The situation is a little different. LA is a bigger political “market.” Also, the contributors are buying consideration from the city government as a whole and not from the school district necessarily. I particularly enjoyed the part of the article at the end:

<< "City contractors are obviously giving because the mayor is asking," Stern said. "It's a business decision. It's not because they're interested in the school board." Kaufman sharply disagreed, saying donors to the committee gave money because they're concerned about education. "They share the mayor's belief that we have to fundamentally reform our schools," he said. >>

Ward Elections for WCCUSD Group Formed

I have pushed before for ward elections as a way of reducing the impact of large amounts of money. Now this has moved a step forward. Anton Jungherr and I organized a meeting on Sunday (4/29). The group leaned towards promoting true ward elections where members are voted on and also reside in the ward and towards using “method 1” involving gathering 500 signatures to get the County Board of Education to vote on it. In our next meeting (5/20), we will discuss the argument for this change, review information about the process and other school district experiences, set up a PAC, and discuss how to get community input into the actual drawing of the ward boundaries. As a working name, we have “Citizens for Positive Educational Change.” We also have a Yahoo Group set up as a mailing list. You can subscribe using this address: wccusdreform-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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Numbers for WCCUSD 2006 Campaign Fundraising

As I said before in my posting about the need for electoral reform in WCCUSD, the November 2006 campaign for three WCCUSD School Board slots was ridiculous in the disproportonality of the campaign fundraising. I recently had the opportunity to brave the county elections office and pick up the end-of-year filings.

Two candidates who did campaign, but raised less than $1,000, didn’t have to file: Anton Jungherr and Robert Brower.

The “3 Ms,” Meade, Miles (elected), and Medrano, were endorsed by the teachers’ union and the main non-credentialed staff union. This is the source of the non-cash contributions for these candidates.

Dwarfing everyone else in the field is the de facto “bond party” ticket of Ramsey (elected) and Kronenberg (elected). Not only is the total of their contributions enormous, but the concentration of these contributions coming from unions and businesses with an interest in the bond construction program is also…enormous.

2006 Reported Contributions

Candidate Cash Cash and Non-Cash
Marguerite Meade $1,573 $8,004
Audrey Miles $2,283 $8,539
Antonio Medrano $14,737 $19,902
Madeline Kronenberg $102,963 $102,963
Charles Ramsey $137,198 $137,198