Two years ago, hundreds of thousands of dollars flooded into the Capistrano Unified school board race to elect some candidates and remove others. Will there be a repeat in 2012?
One of the effects of passing – which has candidates run in smaller trustee areas instead of at-large throughout the sprawling district – was to decrease the amount needed to launch a campaign, according to proponents at the time.
Also, according to a letter sent this month to members of the teachers’ union, the Capistrano Unified Education Association will divide its attention between defeating Prop. 32, which would ban unions and corporations from donating directly to candidates, and a slate of candidates in the four trustee areas.
The letter also hints that losing in both these areas could lead to another teachers strike.
“In the 35 years I have taught in CUSD, I never would have thought that we would be forced to a strike and I never, ever, want that to happen again. But we have to work to ensure that it doesn’t,” wrote Vicki Soderberg, union president. [Emphasis in original.]
The union didn't respond to messages from Patch asking for more information on Soderberg's strike talk.
As for the school board race, the letter didn't identify any union-backed candidates. But it did take aim at candidates who may be backed by StudentsFirst, a national group seeking to reform education, and Hold CUSD Accountable.
(The candidates' first financial statements aren’t due to the county until Oct. 5.)
Among the candidates targeted for defeat by the union: Steve Lang for Trustee Area No. 3 (San Clemente), Jim Reardon for Trustee Area No. 2 (parts of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Coto de Caza), Karin Schnell for Trustee Area No. 1 (parts of San Juan Capistrano, Capo Beach and Dana Point) and Bill Perkins for Trustee Area No. 5 (Aliso Viejo).
However, CUEA’s website places a stronger emphasis on defeating Prop. 32 than any particular candidates.
Last election, the union and its ally, Capistrano Unified Children First, helped recall two trustees, Mike Winsten and Ken Lopez-Maddox, and elect another, Lynn Hatton.
“It was our collective political power that kicked out the anti-public education advocates two years ago,” Soderberg wrote in her August letter, “and it will be our collective political power which maintains pro-public education advocates this year.”