Analysis: Worried Teachers, Union Publicity Stunt
Alexander Russo | April 17, 2013
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Most of the news coverage surrounding last week’s union straw poll on LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy focused on the whopping 91 percent of teachers who expressed “no confidence” in his leadership and treated the result as if it had some sort of real-world impact.
What got left out or minimized along the way was the reality that the vote was really nothing more than a “push” poll crafted by UTLA leaders to generate negative responses (teachers were encouraged to vote against Deasy) and that the result was largely the result of budget cuts and tougher evaluations in recent years that have cost thousands of teachers their jobs and put many more in an angry, uncertain mood.
There were however at least a couple of voices out there challenging the coverage, including Educators 4 Excellence and — somewhat of a surprise — the LA Daily News editorial page.
In the Huffington Post, Educators 4 Excellence executive director Ama Nyamekye described confusion among teachers over why the vote was being called and claimed “the union missed a critical opportunity to have a substantive conversation about what could transform Los Angeles schools, instead forcing teachers to simply choose sides.”
Yesterday’s LA Daily News turned the vote on its head: “They have no confidence that Deasy would put teacher interests above students. They have no confidence that he won’t figure out who the non-performing teachers are by evaluating the success of their students – and fire them. And they have no confidence that Deasy won’t give raises to excellent teachers, which might hurt the feelings of mediocre teachers.”
Teachers are understandably worried after years of budget cuts and the arrival of the energetic (and sometimes imperious) Deasy. Still, last week’s vote was purely symbolic — a sop by UTLA President Warren Fletcher to internal challengers and a publicity stunt crafted for willing journalists.