Former LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg and former vice president of the Board of Public Works Commissioners Heather Repenning face each other in a runoff election for the District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education in California next Tuesday.
In recent years, LAUSD elections have been characterized by divisions between union-backed candidates and charter school group-backed candidates. LAUSD (the second-largest district in the U.S.) had 224 independently operated charter schools in 2017, more than any other school district in the nation.
School board elections in 2017 flipped the LAUSD board from a 4-3 majority of members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to a 4-3 majority of members supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). Former District 5 member Ref Rodriguez, who resigned in 2018, was a member of the latter group. His resignation left a 3-3 split.
In the 2019 special election, UTLA endorsed Jackie Goldberg, and the CCSA has not endorsed. Both Goldberg and Repenning say they support holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools. But they differ in the degree of emphasis they place on charter school policy and other issues in their campaigns. Goldberg has made charter school accountability a key plank of her campaign. Repenning has described herself as a coalition builder and has emphasized other issues.
Along with UTLA, Goldberg has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D) and the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Repenning’s backers include the Service Employees International Union Local 99, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and the Los Angeles Times editorial board.
The special election has drawn $2.8 million in satellite spending. A teacher’s union-sponsored satellite group has spent $1.3 million in support of Goldberg and an SIEU Local 99 group has spent $875,000 supporting Repenning.