The Register’s Endorsement Schizophrenia In OC Board of Education Races

“Consistent” isn’t a description one could apply to the Orange County Register‘s endorsements in the Orange County Board of Education races; “schizophrenic” is more like it.

Yesterday, the Register published its endorsements of incumbents Ken Williams in Area 3 and Jack Bedell in Area 4.  On Sunday, the editorial page came out against board incumbent Robert Hammond and in support of Democrat Becky Gomez, who is supported by teachers unions and the public education establishment.

Regarding Williams, the editorial board wrote:

“Mr. Williams has our endorsement. He has proven himself a willing opponent of the entrenched interests in education and an advocate for greater parental choice.”

Those are excellent reasons for supporting Williams, but they only accentuate the incoherence of the Gomez endorsement. She is the candidate of “the entrenched interests in education” and will not be “an advocate for greater parental choice.” The reason those interests are supporting Gomez is the OC Board of Education – thanks to the conservative majority of which Williams and Hammond are a part – is a fair court of appeal for charter school applications denied by union-dominated local school boards.

If being a “willing opponent of the entrenched interests in education” and “advocate for greater parental choice” are the Register’s primary endorsement criteria, then why would it endorse Williams but oppose Hammond when their respective records and views are essentially the same?

In endorsing Jack Bedell for re-election, the Register cited his endorsement by conservative Board of Education member Linda Lindholm and the California Charter Schools Association.  as significant reasons for endorsing Bedell’s re-election.

But Lindhom and California Charter Schools Association have also endorsed Hammond’s re-election. Why aren’t those sufficient for the Register to also endorse Hammond?

The Register justified its support for Gomez,  the candidate of “entrenched education interests,” solely on a controversial e-mail in which Hammond used the term “sodomites” to refer to gay people. It’s commonly understood to be a derogatory term; using it was wrong and stupid of Hammond.

However, if staunch support for education reform, charter schools and parental choice are the top priorities, wouldn’t it have sufficient in the editorial to deplore Hammond’s use of the word “sodomite” while explaining that at the end of the day the most important considerations in this race is preserving the Board of Education as a forum in which charter school applications can get a fair hearing.

After all, the Register has endorsed Loretta Sanchez for U.S. Senate in spite of her many liberal stances that are directly at odds with the newspaper’s editorial philosophy. Does that endorsement mean the Register agrees with her past support for a single-payer health care system, her comparison of a building a border wall to the Berlin Wall, her support for federal abortion funding or opposition to banning partial-birth abortions? Of course not – the paper is making the most realistic endorsement given what the almost-certain choice of either Sanchez or in November will be. Why not do the same in the Area 1 race?

Upon consideration, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that support for parental choice and charter schools is no longer the Orange County Register editorial board’s governing principle in making school board endorsement. It’s hard to disagree with Walt Myers’ assessment in this OC Political post that those principles have been trumped by political correctness.

By all means, condemn Hammond’s derogatory use of that demeaning word. But to respond by supporting the candidate whose campaign is about increasing the influence of “entrenched education interests” on the OC Board of Education and making it less friendly to charter schools and parental choice? That is sacrificing principle and perspective for the sake of pique.



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