School & District Management

Voted Out

By David J. Hoff — January 19, 2005 1 min read
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Reed Hastings is paying a price for pursuing policy goals that ruffled the feathers of fellow Democrats during his tenure as the president of the California board of education.

Last week, it was Democrats who led a successful surprise effort to end his quest to continue on the board.

After a campaign by advocates of bilingual education took aim at Mr. Hastings, members of the party on the Senate rules committee blocked his nomination for a second four-year term on the board. (“Software Mogul Helps Guide Calif. Schools,” Feb. 26, 2003.)

Reed Hastings lost his bid last week to be reconfirmed to the California state school board.

His nomination failed on a tie vote when two Democrats voted against him and another abstained. The two Republicans on the five-member panel backed Mr. Hastings. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, had renominated Mr. Hastings, who was named to the board in 2000 by Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.

The campaign against Mr. Hastings, organized by the California Bilingual Education Association, charged that he had discriminated against English-language learners when he backed rules that require bilingual education programs to offer at least 2½ hours of English instruction a day. Under the policy, schools that didn’t meet the mandate were ineligible for money under the federal Reading First program.

“Hastings’ policy agenda and actions meant that over 140,000 students weredenied federal funding to help them learn to read,” state Sen. Martha Escutia, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area, said in a statement.

In an e-mail, Mr. Hastings said he was disappointed that his renomination was stalled because he had failed an interest group’s litmus test. “I have advocated for at least 2.5 hours of English instruction for English-learners,” said the founder of NetFlix, an online DVD-rental company. “For this, the California Senate Democrats have blocked my confirmation for state board of education. It is a sad day for the land of opportunity.”

Mr. Hastings, a donor to Democratic campaigns and education-related ballot initiatives, added in the e-mail, “I won’t stay out long.”

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A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week

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