Progressive Teachers Union Activists Take Control Of Anaheim Elementary School Board

Union-backed candidates allied with the local progressive leaders Jose F. Moreno and Michael Matsuda have taken complete control of the Anaheim Elementary School District Board of Education in the wake of the November election.  Moreno represents District 3 on the Anaheim City Council. His long-time friend and fellow progressive political activist Matsuda is superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD).

Three seats were up: teachers union official Ryan Ruelas was seeking re-election in Trustee Area 5, and another incumbent, Jeff Cole, was seeking another term in Area 2.

Area 2 incumbent DR Heywood declined to run again, setting up a context between Norma Campos Kurtz, a legislative aide to Assemblyman Tom Daly, and Mark Lopez, the deputy chief of staff to Supervisor Shawn Nelson who secured a teaching job in the AUHSD mere days before becoming a candidate. This enabled Lopez to run with the ballot title of “Teacher.”

Challenging Ruelas was Shaun Dove, a retired police officer and parent who grew up in the are. Dove is a political newbie running on a platform of parent empowerment, school safety and support for charter schools. However, he lacked resources for direct voter communication and relied on a door-to-door campaign to get the word out to voters. Orange County Charter Advocates for Great Public Schools spend $2,000 on a pro-Dove mailer.

Ruelas is a teacher at Anaheim High School and a member of the State Council of the powerful Californian Teachers Association. He raised at least $15,000  – primarily from unions – for voter communication, plus significant independent expenditure support from the teachers union. He also waged a vigorous canvassing effort that was integrated with the walk programs overlapping Democratic and union campaigns for city council, mayor, Measure L and other up-ballot races.  Plus, he had the advantage of incumbency. Despite his best efforts, Dove was outgunned.

The coup de grace eliminating any independent voice on the AESD Board of Education was the defeat of incumbent Jeff Cole by yet another progressive activist who holds a teaching job in the AUHSD: Juan Alvarez. Like Ruelas, Alvarez is also a teachers union official – serving as secretary of the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association (ASTA). Like Ruelas, Alvarez is antagonistic toward charter schools, was the beneficiary of significant teacher union support and of being vertically integrated into the larger Democratic/union campaign push – he passed Cole several days after the election thanks to the tidal wave of late and provisional ballots.  He’s essentially a political clone of Ruelas, Matsuda and Moreno.

It’s instructive to remember that Cole is also an AUHSD teacher and ASTA member. He voted with his board colleagues to fight the Palm Lane Elementary parents in their efforts to convert their school into a charter school. However, he was not part of the Moreno-Matsuda progressive identity politics cabal, and so his own union waged a savage campaign against him.

With the re-election of Ruelas and the election of Lopez and Alvarez, the AESD Board of Education is completely dominated by the Moreno-Matsuda political operation. Area 1 trustee Jackie Filbeck, although nominally a Republican, is all in with the progressives.  Jose Paolo Magcalas, the Area 2 trustee, a left-wing radical and  – like Ruelas and Alvarez – a teacher in the AUSHD. Magcalas is the progenitor of the growing numbers of Ethnic Studies and uses his students as political activists.  Some long-time local political observers believe the upshot is Mike Matsuda is the de facto superintendent of the AESD – or at least in a position to wield a great deal of influence on education policy in the subordinate district. The Matsuda-inspired politicization of the AUSHD will seep more fully into the AESD.

It guarantees any effort to organize a charter school in the AESD will meet a very hostile reception from a Board of Education dominated by teachers union radicals.

Both Ruelas and Lopez live in Anaheim’s Council District 5, currently represented by Council Steve Faessel.  Lopez ran for District 5 in 2016 but lost to Faessel. Both Ruelas and Lopez will have a free ride to run for city council in 2020, so don’t be surprised if and when one of them decides to carry the progressive Left banner against Republican Faessel two years from now.  These folks – nearly all of whom are public employees –  are building a progressive political operation with the goal of taking over Anaheim city government. Election Day 2018 was a big step forward toward that goal.


  1. This group led by Jose Moreno and Mike Matsuda must be held accountable for the scores they produce as leaders in our Anaheim School District.

    Mark Lopez was put up to run on the board to raise his visibility. Make no mistake they will try for the council as soon as possible and he is a component.

    This group should be highly scrutinized as many of their activities appear to be shady.

    Anaheim parents if we want a better education for our children then we must demand results. If we do not get improved results we must ask those in our school’s leadership roles, why are you not delivering. If they have no answers but counter with smoke and mirror rebuttals we must stop voting for them.

    Same with our city. If our leaders do not produce a safe city with a good quality of life for its citizens then we must us our votes to get them out.

    I believe this article. We must wake up and use voting as the powerful tool that it is. We should not complain if we do not make educated decisions.

    Anaheim Blog shine the light on this group and their movement and encourage others to see them for who they are. We should be very concerned.

    Anaheim we must require more of those who serve us.

  2. We should be inspired by these leaders in our community. Not only do they luve in our city but they work and send their kids to our schools. People leaving negative comments about them from should look into the programs they suuport and run in our city. They were supported by other educators and that’s supposed to be a bad thing??? Good work gentleman and thank you!!!

  3. Inspired by failures that produce failing scores who fight to keep failing? This group needs to be investigated and held accountable for their performance as leaders. They are not supported by all teachers. Those that show allegiance to this “group” benefit while those that do not, suffer for it.

    I hope this blog stays on top of this group/issue and leaves no stone unturned until there is change. There is a story here.

    I would be inspired if the schools were improving under their tutelage but they are NOT. Rather our schools scores are at the bottom. Good work? Gentlemen?

    Failing is not inspiring.

  4. The California voting process needs to be investigated as does this group. Expose the corruption.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar