Today's Sacramento Bee is saying what, until now, teachers' unions have not been openly admitting — that they are increasingly fighting their erstwhile political allies on a range of fronts stretching from charter schools to merit pay to budget cuts and layoffs. Los Angeles in particularly, finds the United Teachers of Los Angeles confronted by its once-reliable friend, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“Villaraigosa,” writes the Bee, “turned against the local teachers union to help push a school-choice plan that was approved last month.” (For a look at how one MacArthur Park neighborhood school is facing possible charter-takeover, see Friday's L.A. Daily post, “Public or Charter?”)
Another hot-button issue has been test scores, which President Obama, who was solidly backed by teacher groups during his 2008 campaign, sees as legitimate indicators of student improvement — and teacher effectiveness. Obama has threatened to tie federal stimulus money to such scores. While the UTLA has not blocked any federal- or state-mandated tests, last spring the UTLA launched a teacher boycott, since called off, of schools' periodical assessments of student work normally conducted by its members.
“They're in flux,” the Bee quotes Jaime Regalado on the relationships between teacher unions and their old allies. Regalado heads Cal State L.A.'s
Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute, a non-profit devoted to public policy
issues. “There's no question about that. [T]eacher unions feel somewhat