Wed, Dec

UTLA Elections: Real Change or the Usual Suspects?


SCHOOL POLITICS-If you've been following the press releases for the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)  2014 Citywide Elections, it would seem to be an insiders' game for the presidency. Three names come up over and over again, Warren Fletcher, Greg Solkovitz and Alex Caputo-Pearl. 

There's a host of opposing candidates including Kevin Mottus, Saul Lankster, Bill Gaffney and Leonard Segal just to name a few. Some of these are good men for certain. But who has ever heard of them and can they have any impact on the outcome?  

For starters, all of the big three are dragging around baggage, which is slowing them down. Fletcher has been the most silent of presidents in UTLA history for over two and a half years. And only in the last six months has he become at all vocal about addressing issues like the Reductions In Force (RIFs) and rehoused aka rubber room teachers.  And surprisingly, he's even filing a complaint against his main adversary on The Union Power Slate for cheating.  

Solkovitz is perceived as being purely a careerist within union circles.  He definitely has spent more time holding down a union elected office than he ever spent running a classroom. There's nothing notable about him and he's an AJ Duffy leftover, who has gone far past his expiration date. If he loses, he can always follow Duffy's lead and start a charter school. 

Caputo-Pearl, the leader of The Union Power Slate, has generated his share of controversy and not the kind a candidate seeks.  He campaigned on unpaid off time at various school sites thus giving himself an unfair advantage over other candidates until the district put a stop to that. He said nothing about rehoused teachers until suddenly proclaiming himself the champion of Iris Stevenson, a high profile music teacher from Crenshaw High School. He was also in attendance several months ago at Dragos for a Union Power Slate dinner with Superintendent John Deasy to supposedly discuss abusive principals.  So he has a lot to explain.  

One can only wonder about these three. Certainly it would appear that Fletcher may have lost Deasy's favor as his union president of choice. For Solkovitz, where else is there to go? Certainly not to a lesser office.  For Caputo-Pearl, is he heir apparent over Fletcher to Deasy's good graces? Was there some kind of deal cut at Dragos?  In fact, you might just ask yourself if the Iris Stevenson rehousing might just be a district manipulated scenario to afford Caputo-Pearl the chance to play the hero. Notice how Deasy is covering all his bases to insure future chaos in UTLA- his preferred UTLA reality. 

So are there any real alternative choices?  If you believe in proof, then David Garcia might be that man. Garcia ran for the presidency in 2011.  He was one of the first to protest cheating on behalf of Warren Fletcher in form of false candidates like Leonard Segal who used their time to declare their support for Fletcher.  He has been active speaking out against union corruption ever since then.  

During his current campaign, he has promised to address union corruption, suggested a reconstitution of the union which would drive out careerists all the way from elected offices to area reps and members of the major committees like the BOD, the HOR, PACE. 

He's promised to seek to lower the salaries of union officers and area reps to those of classroom teachers. He has sworn to seek the reinstatement of teachers who have fallen to the RIF and displacement.  He promises to put an end to the illegal rehousing of teachers and to address previous victims. So he might be your man.  

The Union Power Slate certainly thinks so since it has devoted substantial time and effort attempting to malign his reputation. 

Remember, in the last UTLA election that put do-nothing Fletcher & Company in power, they only took 17% of an already despondent UTLA teacher rank-and-file. While this is an already pathetic indication of lack of unity, it might also be viewed in a very positive light- How many fed up teachers would have to vote for David Garcia to initially throw the election into a runoff, while building momentum to put him in office. 

So you now have a choice: Three more years of injustice for teachers from the usual suspects or a choice that Superintendent John Deasy might actually have some difficulty manipulating. 

Think about it. The only question remains is whether teachers can learn? 

INFO: Balloting and voting take place from March – June, 2014


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]







Vol 12 Issue 20

Pub: Mar 7, 2014