The Economist magazine published an article about an alarming phenomenon: the large amounts of money entering local school board races, much of it from mysterious political action committees, often from out-of-District and out-of-State sources.

Races in Denver, Douglas County, and Aurora County in Colorado attracted at least $1.65 Million.

Last spring’s School Board Race in Los Angeles was the most expensive in U.S. history, at $15 Million. Billionaires like Reed Hastings and Eli Broad make clear that they will spend whatever it takes to install true believers in privatization. In most such races, you are likely to encounter the same names, whether it is Hastings, Broad, Bloomberg, or members of the Walton family. You are likely to see other names associated with hedge funds or other parts of the financial industry. They have two goals in common: they love charter schools and they don’t like unions.

The intrusion of this kind of money into school board races is a danger to democracy. School boards are supposed to reflect the wishes of the local communities, not the purposes of out-of-State billionaires in search of willing puppets.

How can a local citizen, a parent or community leader, have any chance of running for school board if their opponent has a kitty of $100,000-300,000 to millions of dollars? I recall visiting a city where I was told that, in the past, a candidate could run by raising $40,000. Those days are over. That’s not good for democracy.