A.J. Duffy's UTLA Cracks Further As Heather Kolodny Drops Los Angeles School Board Bid

Paranoid leaders at United Teachers Los Angeles seek anti-reform teachers to run for Los Angeles Unified School Board. That's right. They grimly resist after losing public confidence following the brilliant L.A. Times test score expose of 6,000 teachers. The Times showed that thousands of good students fall behind under LAUSD teachers.

Mayorsam blog has followed UTLA as it circles the wagons. Blogger Joe B. on Nov. 15 predicted the union would try to put more anti-reformers on the school board. On cue, UTLA President A.J. Duffy, who has turned UTLA into a national laughingstock, complied: The union named anti-reform teacher Heather Kolodny as its candidate.

Yet soon after that, UTLA was seeking a Kolodny replacement. How revealing:

The Heather Kolodny whiplash is another measure of the disarray inside the union.

UTLA's years of passionate battling for rules, wages, hours and rights -- and its complete lack of passionate fighting for black and brown L.A. boys and girls who are not being taught to read, multiply, understand chemistry or do long division -- are finally coming home to roost.

The public is finally realizing UTLA is a bad actor.

Nationally, it is hard to think of a bigger, urban-based teachers union still refusing to change. Not Chicago, not New York, not Washington DC. UTLA is years behind.

Case in point: UTLA's stubborn role in making sure LAUSD could fire only 4 teachers, out of 33,000, in the past decade.

A.J. Duffy always blames "the administration" for being too timid to fire bad teachers. Duffy says he wants them fired, too.

This is not true, as the Weekly clearly demonstrated in February in its investigative story by the award-winning journalist Beth Barrett, "The Dance of the Lemons."

Duffy & Co. have made sure it costs taxpayers roughly $500,000 and 7 (and often longer) years to get rid of a single desk-sleeper, burn-out, or other person who shouldn't be teaching.

"The administration" is "timid" about firing teachers because it faces a black hole of time and money, teams of lawyers, time in courtrooms -- and more paperwork than a murder trial -- to fire a single, inept Los Angeles teacher.

Thanks to UTLA, Duffy and team.

Imagine a huge company of 33,000 -- Boeing, say, or IBM, that can fire only 4 individuals in a decade.

Of course, it is unimaginable on any workforce.

Boeing planes would be exploding on the tarmac. Before takeoff. Every few weeks.

IBM copying machines would be spurting ink across the room. Alone at night. While turned off.

That is what is happening on a human level in the classrooms at LAUSD, with 33,000 teachers, none of whom can be fired.

Solid students who are doing well show up in class. By the end of the year, they have actually fallen behind -- under the thousands of LAUSD teachers who cannot teach.

That's what the Times series, "Grading the Teachers," which deserves a Pulitzer Prize, showed.

Many math teachers in LAUSD grade schools do not know how to do math.

Many lifelong tenured teachers (yes, they are granted lifelong tenure as green teachers with only two years of experience) have never taken a single course in how to control a class. Ever.

By typical professional U.S. industry averages, LAUSD should be firing 500 to 1,000 adults from a force of 33,000 professionals every few years.

Instead, no bad educators will be fired at LAUSD this year. And perhaps one teacher will be fired next year. On average.

But back to the Heather Kolodny dustup. Still no word on whether she was pushed or jumped out of the race.

The second question here is, Why is UTLA trying to unseat the current board member in the West Valley, the likable but demonstrably mild Tamar Galatzan?

Why get rid of Galatzan, if you are the union?

Galatzan has shown no strong desire to stand up to UTLA. Just a bit of fight, here and there.

If that track record continues, Tamar Galatzan will never be a Yolie Flores, the gutsy reformer who is leaving her post voluntarily to undertake real reform outside LAUSD.

Flores is choosing to leave a system that is too-big-to-not-fail. She's already made several moves that push UTLA to focus on educating children -- instead of protecting the butts of adults.

By that measure, Galatzan barely registers as a reformer, Board President Monica Garcia is downright hostile to reform, and the unfortunate board members Steven Zimmer, Nury Martinez and Richard Vladovic are tucked deep in A.J. Duffy's tiny little pocket. Marguerite LaMotte is riding sidecar, irrelevant.

Joe B. wistfully blogs over at Mayorsam that now that Heather Kolodny has dropped out of the effort to unseat Tamar Galatzan, perhaps UTLA will back Louis Pugliese, a serious educator who, with very little money, lost by about 500 votes to well-financed political climber Nury Martinez jn 2009.

Joe B., you're a great guy.

But why would UTLA choose Pugliese, a guy who seems to understand that underperforming students are all too often the victims of underperforming teachers? That would be a miracle.

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