Posted with permission from K-12 News Network's The Wire

There are twenty-three candidates running to fill former Congressman Xavier Bacerra's seat in Congressional District 34 in Southern California. (Bacerra is currently the state's Attorney General, replacing Kamala Harris, who, after November 8, 2016, became our US Senator.)

Election Day is Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. You can find your polling place by entering your address here.

The candidates were surveyed about their positions on charter schools, and as this is a handy litmus test for seeing where candidates fall in a post-DeVos public education world, I sorted them so voters can understand where the candidates fall.

I concede that a few paragraphs in answer to a survey about charter schools can be misleading, but it's important to see how a potential Congressperson will quickly frame and identify her or his main priorities on the issue. What is their "elevator pitch," so to speak, on public education? And given these rough classifications, voters can ask for deeper clarification of where a given candidate stands on the role federal government plays in guaranteeing equity internally within a state and across states, positions on federal civil rights legislation guaranteeing disabled children's rights to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, and so forth.

Education voters can and should push more candidates to unequivocally prioritize public schools when they become members of Congress.

From the answers given, only three candidates said that they would put existing public schools first. They were: Alejandra Campoverdi, Arturo Carmona, and Kenneth Mejia. Voters are encouraged to consult a public forum in which all candidates answered a wide range of questions from potential voters; it was videoed by activist Lauren Steiner here.

Let me explain the categories a bit:
Clueless designates a candidate who clearly has no thoughtful stance about education policy or gave a "word salad" response that seems to hit on relevant keywords but offers no substance.

Pro-Charter (nearly unregulated) designates those candidates who are really interested in growing the sector, have taken charter industry lobby campaign funding in either this race or elsewhere, and really can't be bothered to understand that existing public schools have fixed minimum costs and unchecked charter expansion is really the same as public school closure from depopulation and defunding. These candidates are willing to embrace Betsy DeVos blind allegiance to "school choice" even if it means $80 million in public money earmarked for charter schools cannot be accounted for.

Pro-Charter (strongly regulated) identifies those candidates who recognize that no regulation breeds a two-tier system that is detrimental to existing public schools, but are still willing to overlook the fixed minimum costs of public schools problem in favor of limited charter school authorization. Whether or not this kind of candidate would back a moratorium on new charter school authorizations is the way to find out how committed a given candidate is to existing public schools.

Prioritizes Truly Public Schools designates a candidate who believes that existing public schools should be the primary focus of local, state, and federal policy. Again, the charter moratorium and candidate's willingness to draw a bright line (public funds demand public and local governance, accountability, transparency, and adherence to Ed Code) with regard to taxpayer money for a public good are two ways to distinguish the strength of commitment to public education. A final and most telling question would be to see where the candidate stands on repealing the New Markets Tax Credit's application to charter schools in order to stop outright profiteering.

AVOID: * "Yolie Flores received contributions from top education leaders, including $1,000 from former LAUSD Supt. John Deasy and $500 from Katie Braude, who sits on the L.A. County Board of Education. Marcia Aaron, the founder and CEO of KIPP LA charter schools, also gave Flores $500." (Via LA Times)

AVOID: ** Sara Hernandez received a $2700 donation from Eli Broad, and maximum individual contributions of $2700 each from the members of the Fisher family (John, Doris, Laura, and David - all longtime charter industry donors). Wendy Kopp of Teach for America (now Teach for All) donated $300. ( Via FEC filings Schedule A, Itemized Receipts, Line #11a1)

CA CD34 Ed Voter Guide