Charter school advocates push to make Villaraigosa governor

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- A new bi-partisan poll shows two California Gubernatorial candidates are pulling away from the crowd. Democrat Gavin Newsom leads the way with Republican John Cox in second. Supporters of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hope one issue could bring him back into the race: schools.

In the past six weeks, the California Charter School Association Advocates or CCSA Advocates, has received more than $20 million in donations, to make sure charter schools survive the race for governor. The organization has recently spent millions on ads to boost Villaraigosa's bid for governor.

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"He (Villaraigosa) spent literally two decades working to improve our public schools in California," said Gary Borden, the executive director of CCSA Advocates. His organization endorsed Villaraigosa because he supports increasing funding and access to charter schools for low-income students.

Borden and charter school proponents are worried Gavin Newsom will take away the choice to attend charter schools, if he's elected governor. "Any sort of an artificial pause on growth of charter schools is really detrimental to what parents have ultimately said they want and need in their public education system," explained Borden. But Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association supports Newsom. "We supported Gavin because Gavin has supported teachers." The politically influential teachers union endorsed Newsom for governor. Most charter schools are not unionized and as Mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa fought against the teachers unions.

But, Heins says it's not about that and touts Newsom's holistic approach to public education. "What we need to do is focus on the whole system for every child, so it's not just one or two children who are lucky enough to go to this good school or that good school." Newsom has promised to hold charter schools more accountable.

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