The first round of the UTLA elections produced two stunning results.
One: For the first time in recent memory, a political faction within the union — Union Power – has gained near total control of the union. In a field of 10 candidates for president, Alex Caputo-Pearl out-polled his nearest competitor, incumbent Warren Fletcher, by a 2-to-1 margin — a runoff is now underway — and Union Power candidates won outright nearly every other union leadership position.
Two: Not that many people cared. In a turning-point election, barely a quarter of UTLA’s 31,000 members bothered to vote.
The combination is a real head scratcher because it makes entirely ambiguous just what members were saying if they were saying anything at all. Even Fletcher bowed to the inevitable, announcing he would no longer actively campaign for another term.
On the one hand, the true believers lined up behind a change agent and his deep bench of compatriots with a lengthy platform that included a focus on raises and the end of teacher jails.
On the other, a silent majority declared they have enough on their hands, with crowded classrooms, curriculum changes and the challenge of providing the best for kids with the least.
It’s as if most teachers, feeling beaten down and demoralized over so many years, considered the options — more of the same under Fletcher or new activism under Union Power — and decided, “Yeah, whatever.”