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‘Political Season’ Starting with UTLA Leadership Conference

Hillel Aron | July 25, 2013

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Leadership-Conference-Graphic-Blue-Twinkle-Sky.previewThe local teachers union, UTLA, is holding its annual leadership conference next weekend, starting  August 2 at the Westin Hotel near LAX.

“The conference is an important way for us to unite as a union, and to provide you with support and resources for the challenges in the coming year,” reads the invite letter. “We need a united union working for the benefit of public education now and for the future.”

The conference could be a big moment for UTLA President Warren Fletcher, who’s had a string of recent victories, including the passing of a School Board resolution to hire more teachers (and other LAUSD employees) and the election of Dr. Richard Vladovic as Board president. Fletcher’s first three-year term is coming to an end, and so his speech may signal the beginning of his re-election campaign, as it were.

“This is the beginning of the political season for us,” said a source within UTLA leadership. The leadership conference, he said, is “very political.”

Every school in LA Unified with UTLA teachers has an official representative — a UTLA chapter chair, who is elected by the other teachers. The leadership conference consists primarily of training sessions for chapter chairs. There will also be four big speeches by California State Controller John Chiang, former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Los Angeles NAACP president Leon Jenkins, and Fletcher, who will deliver his “state of the union” speech.

The election of UTLA officers will be held in early 2014 (the exact date hasn’t been decided yet). Fletcher is expected to run for another term; he is expected to face at least one challenger, Alex Caputo-Pearl, a member of the Progressive Educators for Action, a caucus within UTLA whose platform includes a call to end “the growth of corporate charter schools” and “[t]he use of standardized testing to determine students’ futures.”

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