Elder pushes stances on education, housing in effort to win over Latino voters

Larry Elder on the set of his radio talk show
Larry Elder, a candidate in the gubernatorial recall election, is attempting to connect with Latino voters on the issues of housing and education as he campaigns. Elder is pictured here in June.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Flanked by two Latino former state officeholders — one of them a Democrat — Larry Elder made a pitch Wednesday for Latino support in this month’s recall election, touting his positions on education, housing prices and other issues.

Speaking at a video news conference for “media representing the Latino community,” Elder cited the endorsements of former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a Republican, and onetime State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, who also spoke.

“I’m appealing to everybody, but I do believe that the impact of the poor quality of education disproportionately hurts Black and Brown people,” said Elder, 69. “And I think that’s one of the reasons that the majority of Hispanics … now support [the] recall.”


Elder, who is a Republican, spoke of his desire to implement school choice at a statewide level, saying “competition” was the only answer to breaking the power of teachers unions.

He said a study, which he did not name, found that 5% of public school teachers “were incompetent.” He extrapolated those numbers for California public schools, which employed 319,000 teachers for the 2019-20 school year, according to the California Department of Education.

“That’s 15,000 incompetent public school teachers,” he said. “And given the fact that teachers get tenure in just two years, it’s almost impossible to fire them.”

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Elder also took aim at Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union.

In an interview last week with Los Angeles Magazine, Myart-Cruz said there was no “learning loss” during last year’s pandemic shutdown of Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.


She also stated, “It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”

Elder seized upon the comments.

“This is just hideous; kids are not being able to learn how to read [and] write into their grade level,” Elder said. “In an increasingly competitive economy, how is anybody going to survive?”

Several student groups struggled throughout distance learning, including L.A. Unified’s roughly 120,000 English learners, many of them Latino.

Among Larry Elder’s fans are longtime listeners of his radio show — they call themselves Elderados — and people who hope he can change something they say is in desperate need of saving: The state of California.

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In March, the district reported that fall semester Ds and Fs among English learners in middle and high schools rose by 12 and 10 percentage points, respectively, from the previous academic year.

Education also led Romero, a lifelong Democrat, to cross party lines and endorse Elder, a man she disagrees with on most issues.

Romero, a school-choice advocate, took aim at the California Teachers Assn.

“[It] advocates for its members but fails to advocate and deliver for the over 6 million children in California, the vast majority of whom are Latino children,” she added.

About 55% of California public school students are Latino, according to the state Department of Education.

Romero cited state test results that show Latinos have struggled to meet state standards in math and English.

“Tell me how a Latino student can aspire to become a doctor, to become an astronaut?” Romero asked.

Latinos represent a significant voting bloc in California, with 8 million eligible to vote and 5 million registered to do so, according to figures by UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Initiative.

Romero also blasted Newsom and his “double standard” for sending his kids back to campus while many public schools were shut down.

There was a common theme to paint Newsom as an elitist, which included Elder calling out the governor for his infamous French Laundry dinner on Nov. 6.

Early numbers provide good news for Newsom but also show he must turn out young and Latino voters.

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Rising home prices were also a topic of discussion, with Elder saying they contributed to California’s first-ever population loss. He also spoke of crime, boasted he was the “law and order” candidate and said he was proud of his recent endorsement by Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.

Elder was asked about his stance on abortion after a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday.

Elder, who calls himself pro-life, said abortion “is not anything that is on my priority list.” He said he doubted that changes to abortion access would happen in California even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.