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Analysis: Why is the California Teachers Association hiding the school reform background of its new executive director?

Mike Antonucci | November 6, 2019

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Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears weekly at LA School Report

The California Teachers Association recently named Joe Boyd as its new executive director, replacing Joe Nuñez, who was mysteriously ousted in July after six years on the job. Boyd was most recently the executive director of CTA’s counterpart, the California Federation of Teachers. The executive director acts as the union’s chief of staff, overseeing CTA’s 400 employees and its day-to-day operations.

Boyd had previously worked for CTA in a variety of positions for 23 years, including regional organizer, charter school organizer and Executive Director of Teachers Association of Long Beach. He formed a public policy consulting firm called the Advocacy Resource Group. CTA posted his extended bio from that moribund firm’s web site, which lists just about everything Boyd has done in his adult life, from his time as a political science undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley to his hiring at CFT.

Despite this level of detail, there is a substantial omission from Boyd’s résumé. In 2014, he partnered with Steve Barr, the founder of Green Dot Public Schools — described by California Democrats for Education Reform as “one of the nation’s most successful charter school networks” — in forming the organization.

Barr left Green Dot in 2009 and went on to form Future Is Now Schools. He even began a short-lived campaign to become mayor of Los Angeles in 2016. He is a well-known but polarizing figure because of his ties to both the charter school movement and teachers unions. Barr’s claim to fame was his welcoming attitude toward the unionization of charter school employees.

His collaboration with unions didn’t end at the California border. Barr partnered with Randi Weingarten, then-head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers and now president of the American Federation of Teachers, to open the Green Dot New York Charter School.

But Barr’s close ties to union leaders didn’t inoculate him against all opposition. He battled with United Teachers Los Angeles over the conversion of Locke High to a Green Dot charter. And Barr’s career has taken shots from many union supporters over the years.

Boyd knew his partnership with Barr would be problematic, but he seemed very committed. “I wanted to get into the space where people can work together about things they agree on,” he told Education Week in an August 2014 interview. “This is about the politics of collaboration.”

In the same interview, he also mentioned that he retired early from the CTA specifically to take the California DFER job, which makes the omission from his bio even more curious. “I have an open line of communication with Joe Nuñez,” he said.

Nuñez is gone but not forgotten. Two members of CTA’s State Council submitted a new business item calling on the union to use an independent investigator to look into the handling of Nuñez’s firing. “A report that can be shared needs to be made to State Council outlining any improprieties, procedural violations or lack of due process in the firing,” reads the item.

Boyd’s entire union career overshadows this short foray into the world of “collaboration.” But it appears CTA was concerned that this association wouldn’t play well with its activists, so it scrubbed any mention of it.

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