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Charter Schools K-12 LAUSD

True or false? Are L.A. school board candidates 'puppets' of billionaires?

Campaign mailer from a political action committee of teacher unions, including United Teachers Los Angeles. None
Campaign mailer from a political action committee of teacher unions, including United Teachers Los Angeles.

The contest for Los Angeles Board of Education seats has included much negative campaigning, including the flier above. It was sent out by a political action committee under the control of United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers union.

This mailer and others with similar themes target two challengers, Allison Holdorff Polhill and Nick Melvoin, who are backed by charter school supporters. They and Gregory Martayan are opposing two-term incumbent Steve Zimmer in the March 7 election to represent District 4, which stretches from the Westside to the west San Fernando Valley.

We are presenting fact/fiction reviews of campaign claims as the election nears. Allegations presented without sufficient evidence will be rated as false, unproven or misleading.

An earlier post examined misleading claims about Zimmer. Columnist Steve Lopez also looked at the negative campaign against Zimmer .

Here is an evaluation of the "puppet master" mailer.

Candidates: Allison Holdorff Polhill/Nick Melvoin

Claim: They are "in the pocket of pro-charter school billionaires. These billionaires want to divert money away from our public schools and towards their own profit-making charter schools."

Verdict: Misleading

Both are supported by pro-charter billionaires, but that doesn't mean they will do the bidding of donors, who themselves have varying viewpoints. Still, both have expressed strong support for charters. The billionaires in question are not named, but some of these donors support vouchers, which allow families to use public-school funding to subsidize private-school tuition. Both candidates say they oppose such vouchers. These wealthy donors do not typically make money from charter schools. Some support for-profit charters; some favor only nonprofit charters. The two candidates say they favor only nonprofit charters. The growth of charters in L.A. Unified has contributed to serious financial strains on the school system.

Claim: Melvoin "sits on the board of City Charter Schools."

Verdict: Misleading

Melvoin says he formerly served on that board, from November 2015 to May 2016. City Charter is organized as a nonprofit.

Claim: "Melvoin even said he might welcome a 'hostile takeover' of our schools. The for-profit charter agenda is too extreme for our students."

Verdict: Mostly true

Melvoin did say as much in a published commentary , although that comment appears with substantial context. Melvoin disputes any association with for-profit charter schools.

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