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With Endorsement the OC Register Editorial Board Walks Away from Education Reform

[Publisher’s Note: The Honorable Gloria Romero served in the California State Senate from 2001 through 2010. A Democrat, Romero has been a champion for education reform. Her columns have appeared regularly in the Orange County Register. Apparently they were not responsive to Romero’s request that this piece run on the Register’s editorial page before the election. We agreed to run it here – Flash]


State Senator Gloria Romero, Ret.

The Orange County Register made the wrong choice when it endorsed the Rebecca Gomez instead of current Board member Robert Hammond for the Orange County Board of Education.

What is most troubling is the rationale provided for its failure to endorse Hammond: rather than reviewing him on his exemplary record of supporting parental choice and expanding quality school choice options for all Orange County families, they excoriated him for the use of a derogatory term offensive to gays and lesbians.

I support the Register’s chastising Hammond over the use of the insulting word written in an email to a colleague following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling upholding gay marriage. I have long championed gay rights and the fight against bigotry. When I learned of his use of the term, I called Hammond, telling him how terribly offensive that word was, for which he apologized.

The Register gave him no chance. They have a right to not endorse a candidate. But what is wrong was their choice to exact revenge on Hammond by not only publicly flogging him, but then turning around and endorsing his opponent, Gomez.

Gomez is supported by the Santa Ana Educator’s Association which recently blanketed taxpayer-operated teacher District mailboxes with campaign materials – that’s a violation of California law. To date, Gomez has failed to publicly support an investigation into this abuse of taxpayer money benefiting her. Hammond supports expanding charter school choice in education; Gomez limits it to “need” as determined by a local school board – not parents. Hammond supported the historic Vergara v. California lawsuit seeking changes in teacher quality statutes; Gomez does not. Hammond supported Anaheim’s Palm Lane parents seeking transformation of a chronically failing elementary school; Gomez did not.

A Special Education teacher and former U.S. Marine, Hammond has consistently voted to give opportunities to Orange County parents to “vote with their feet” and enroll their children in the school of their choice. In the very same county that was home to the lawsuit that eventually became the argument embedded in Brown v. Board of Education, I am outraged by the Register’s callous attitude towards the impact of their decision on the lives of tens of thousands of poor and minority kids in Orange County. What’s politically correct about sabotaging poor kids’ opportunities?

Ironically, while the Register railed against Hammond’s “bigotry”, they failed to even mention bigotry when they recently glowingly endorsed Rep. Loretta Sanchez for the U.S. Senate. Sanchez, likewise, engaged in a nauseating display racial bigotry when she simulated a stereotypical war whoop to describe Native Americans. Why didn’t the Register excoriate her? Don’t Native Americans matter? Why the double standard?

Candidates are flawed and when we endorse choices need to be balanced. The Register could have stood up for both the gay community and poor, minority kids. They could have even withheld endorsing at all. But to angrily “send a message” in an Exorcist-type, neck twisting endorsement of a candidate who is running on a status quo education platform and holds positions completely opposite to the Register’s Editorial Page’s own viewpoints is utterly irresponsible.

Last Sunday, the Register extracted their revenge on Hammond. Sadly, it’s the tens of thousands of families of minority, poor kids who will pay the price for the Register’s selective display of a sudden “anti-bigotry” outrage. If the Register is to be believed about no tolerance for any type of bigotry they should have treated Sanchez and Hammond equally. They didn’t. Voters should reject the Register’s double standard. Hammond, like Sanchez, apologized. Based on his voting record in which he prioritizes kids over special interests, he deserves voter support for a second term.