A controversy surrounding the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) compliance with California’s contentious Parent Trigger law has apparently opened up a rift between key allies responsible for passing the state’s so-called Parent Empowerment Act.
LAUSD’s decision to grant itself a year’s recess from the 2010 trigger law’s provisions came to light only last week when its author, former state Senator Gloria Romero, leaked a letter from an LAUSD lawyer claiming that, as part of a two-year waiver it received in 2013 from the federal Department of Education, the district is not subject to the Parent Trigger law through the 2014-2015 school year. The law allows parents to take over low-performing public schools and replace faculty with non-unionized teachers under the management of private charters.
That waiver, which was granted last November but only announced August 5 by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, frees LAUSD and seven other state school districts from penalties connected to not meeting a 2014 deadline for 100 percent math and reading proficiency mandated by the George W.
“We’re Up to $60 Million”
It’s an unreasonably warm October day, and I’m milling about awkwardly with a handful of suits at a mixer in a small banquet hall at Newport Beach’s Pacific Club—which, according to its website, is the gathering place of choice for the “distinctive life-style of Orange County’s business and professional leaders.”
An incredible thirst suddenly overwhelms me, as I look down and see I’ve practically sweated through my cheap suit. I try my best to keep control of my decorum, but when a busser passes by with a lone Arnold Palmer on his tray, I snatch it greedily from the outstretched hands of another guest and suck the saccharine concoction down in one gulp.
The hot weather may be playing a small role in my odd behavior, but my discomfort is mainly due to the fact this is no ordinary mixer. I’ve successfully infiltrated one of the most powerful and secretive Republican organizations in the country: The Lincoln Club of Orange County.
“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” Gloria Romero tells me on the phone. “It’s flowing to both sides. Government isn’t about drawing lines. It’s not about saying you’re on that side and you can’t come over.”
Her voice is friendly, somewhat placid, but it’s clear Romero is not thrilled with having to answer questions about her political alliance with the Koch brothers and other wealthy supporters of Proposition 32, and she conspicuously avoids bringing up their names. When pressed about the Kochs and the money behind behind Prop. 32, she falls back upon her experience in Sacramento.
“I have sat in the belly of the beast,” she says. “I have seen the realities of money and its influence.”
With Election Day still one month away, the battle to pass Prop. 32 has seen its share of political shockers, including the sudden injection of $4 million of Koch brother money to the Yes on 32 campaign,