L.A. Unified school board member Bennett Kayser, shown in 2011, is running for reelection. He was the subject of an attack ad paid for by charter school supporters. (Los Angeles Times)
Ok, kids, the L.A. Unified school board election is barely a month away, and you know what that means, right? Let the gutter politics begin.
On Wednesday night, two out of three candidates in District 5 blew off a community forum that drew 200 people. As I explained in an earlier column, there was, of course, a political backstory involving the eternal clash between the teachers union and the so-called reformers. LA school board candidates debate Voters had hoped to hear a debate Wednesday night among the three candidates running for L.A. Unified's District 5 seat, but only one of the candidates, Ref Rodriguez, showed up. (Steve Lopez) And now there’s plenty of buzz, and ruffled feathers, about a nasty attack on board member Bennett Kayser in a flier put out by charter school supporters.
The flier essentially calls him a bigot. "BENNETT KAYSER TRIED TO STOP LATINO CHILDREN FROM ATTENDING SCHOOLS IN WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS.”
That’s the screaming headline on a vile, two-page missive in Spanish and English, and the flier includes a lovely photograph of five Latino children sitting forlornly on a curb, as if their world has been crushed by the cruel Caucasian board member.
Kayser condemned the ad, calling it garbage.
Character assassination and bullying have no place in our school district; these people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said in a statement his staff sent me Thursday evening.
It was no surprise he felt that way, but the flier was so reprehensible, it was also condemned by board member George McKenna. He was listed on the flier as one of four candidates supported by the “Parent Teacher Alliance.” McKenna told me he didn’t know who that group is, did not ask for its endorsement, and did not want it.
Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges
“I am unequivocally opposed to it,” he said, adding that he has in fact endorsed Kayser. Friday morning, he issued a statement calling the flier “racially inflammatory” and asking the group to withdraw its support of him.
So what’s this all about?
Same ol’ same ol’.
Another chapter in a long-running war among forces that are incapable of constructive conversations, and compromise, in the interest of students.
On one side you’ve got the so-called reformers who believe charters and tougher teacher evaluations tied to student performance are long overdue in public education. On the other side you’ve got teacher unions and other parties arguing that teachers are unfairly under attack, and the real culprits are lack of funding, the socioeconomic challenges of impoverished students, and heavy-handed administrators backed by billionaire agitators.
Kayser is a major ally of United Teachers Los Angeles, which is why the charter school proponents want to blast him out of office. The charter/reform folks would love to see him replaced by candidate Ref Rodriguez, a charter school operator. And that’s certainly their prerogative, but shame on them for taking the low road. The flier L.A. school board election politics equal gutter politics - LA Times: