The Los Angeles Unified School District underwent a dramatic political shift Tuesday night, as the curtain dropped on what has been the most expensive school board election in the nation’s history.
The election has been a proxy war between wealthy charter school advocates and public employee unions. Charter supporters appeared to secure their first-ever majority on the seven-member Los Angeles Board of Education, a move that could accelerate the already-rapid expansion of charter schools across the city.
Election day brought to an end a more than $14-million campaign fueled by outside spending. The latest figures show charter supporters outspent their union opponents. But union spending, mainly under the banner of United Teachers Los Angeles, also reached into the millions.
The historically high campaign spending levels are partly due to the fact that Los Angeles is the largest school system in the country with an elected Board of Education. And political spending seems to increase with each election. Both the teachers union and charter backers also are well entrenched in L.A. and have deep pockets, and both sides played hard to win, aware of the real and symbolic stakes.