Memo from Alex Johnston on Education Reform and the 2014 Elections

From: Alex Johnston, Education Advisor to Mike Bloomberg

To: Interested Parties

Date: Nov. 5, 2014

RE: Education in the 2014 Elections

Mike Bloomberg believes it is critically important to help advance the cause of education reform through the political and electoral process. For too long the unions have had this playing field to themselves — that has now begun to change. This election cycle the former Mayor particularly focused his efforts in support of a bipartisan slate of gubernatorial candidates with a track record of bold leadership on education reform. Yesterday, five of the candidates Bloomberg supported for governor were successful in extremely close races. Three are incumbents, who have championed far-reaching education reforms while in office, including boosting teacher quality, overhauling teacher tenure, raising standards for all students, turning around their state’s lowest performing schools and expanding high quality public school options for students and their families:

  • Dan Malloy, Democrat of Connecticut
  • John Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado
  • Rick Snyder, Republican of Michigan

Two are first-time governors who ran for office with bold ideas on education:

  • Charlie Baker, Republican of Massachusetts
  • Gina Raimondo, Democrat of Rhode Island

Mike Bloomberg also looked across the country to identify candidates running for office at the local and state level who are standing up for real change in public education and who are ready to put practical problem-solving over ideology in the interests of better education. This has led him to make campaign contributions and independent expenditures supporting candidates for state and local school board, as well as state legislature and State Superintendent across the country from California to Washington D.C. In yesterday’s elections his investments included:

  • Campaign contributions to 8 winning candidates, including Erika Beltran for State Board of Education in Texas and Laura Wilson-Phelan for State Board of Education in Washington DC.
  • Independent expenditures backing Marshall Tuck’s insurgent bid for State Superintendent in California, in which he came from being a distant long shot candidate to nearly unseating incumbent Tom Torlakson. While over $10M was spent by unions in Torksalson’s defense, Tuck nearly won against the odds–demonstrating the vulnerability of traditionally secure union-backed incumbents when they don’t advance reforms needed to meaningfully improve opportunity and education for students.
  • Independent expenditures supporting 6 winning pro-reform candidates for the California state legislature.
  • Independent expenditures to support pro-reform local school board candidates in East Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. This builds on Mike Bloomberg’s investments in 2011 that supported the election of Louisiana’s strong pro-reform super-majority on the State Board of Education, which has been crucial to key reforms in that state, including defending the continued implementation of Common Core after Governor Jindal reversed course and opposed the new standards. Reformers held their own in these elections last night, with strong potential to win super-majorities in runoff elections next month.
  • Independent expenditures that supported a winning pro-reform school board candidate in Minneapolis—adding an inspiring voice for change and improvement to that school board.