Charter Schools: OC Register Editorial Board Learns Elections Have Consequences

Several days ago, the The Orange County Register published an editorial blasting OC Board of Education member Rebecca Gomez for voting to deny an appeal by Global Business Academy charter school (located in union-dominated Capistrano Unified School District):

Those who value education reform and parental choice received a disappointing snub from the Orange County Board of Education last week when Jack Bedell joined with Rebecca “Beckie“ Gomez and David Boyd in voting to reject Global Business Academy charter school.

In a statement, Bedell, seen as the board’s swing vote, cited “unrealistic financial projections” as his reason for opposition.

What wasn’t mentioned, however, is that those issues are largely a product of delay tactics employed by the Capistrano Unified School District Board which, earlier this year, offered the grade 6-12 business-oriented charter a conditional approval so full of poison pills that delayed the school’s opening and put its funding at risk.

The school turned to the county for relief. Instead, the board chose to embolden anti-charter gamesmanship at the district level.

“Although I am unable to vote in favor of this charter petition appeal as submitted,” Bedell wrote, “I will continue to support good, fiscally sound charter schools in Orange County and affirm their value as incubators of innovation.”

It is unfortunate we didn’t see that commitment last week.

“What wasn’t mentioned” in the editorial was that a few short months ago, the OCR editorial board endorsed Gomez for the Orange  County Board of Education over a strong, proven supporter of charter schools – then OCBE member Robert Hammond – despite warnings from “those who value education reform and parental choice” that Gomez was the candidate of the teachers union and shares that entrenched interests hostility to charter schools. Hammond was “snubbed” and Gomez given the endorsement in a fit of pique over a politically incorrect and frankly offensive comment Hammond made about homosexuality.

Opposing teacher tenure reform and charter school expansion are the top goals of the coalition of special interests who spent a fortune to elect Gomez to the OCBE. They wanted her elected in order to tip the playing field even further against the establishment of charter schools. It’s not as if the OCR editorial board was unaware of this reality when it advised readers to vote for Gomez and disingenuously vouched for her willingness to support charter schools.

Did the Register expect a different outcome than how Gomez voted? That’s akin, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, to removing the organ and demanding the function.

Gomez only narrowly defeated Hammond by 42.9% to 40.4%. It’s impossible to say if the OC Register endorsement made the difference, but it planted the editorial page’s residual conservative imprimatur on Gomez and no doubt led a number of voters to cast their ballots for her. The OC Register is correct to criticize her vote against Global Business Academy – but it should also take some ownership of that vote.

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