The UTLA take-over is now complete.

We hope that you understand the long-term futility of reforming the LAUSD. Pray that your children are admitted to charter schools and that they are not unionized or shut down in Los Angeles.

If you are new to education reform you probably don't know that the teacher unions spending around $2.5 billion per year to make sure that teachers and folks like us don't know what's really going on in public schools. Because if we did, we would be outraged and together, might do something about it.

LAUSD salaries and pensions
LAUSD salary worksheet
CALSTR actuarial evaluation
Fix Pensions / Presentation
Fix Pensions / Chapter 1
Official LAUSD Benefit Calculations

LAUSD teacher evaluation
LA Weekly Dance of the Lemons Article
AJ Duffy saying how the District could save $3 million

Slanderous UTLA mailers against Sanchez
To Do List
Room Service
Pink Slip

Teacher Union politics and power asymmetry
"Special Interest" by Dr. Terry Moe

Here's what the UTLA tells its members:

School Board races must be the top priority: Your rights, health care, and future are up for grabs.
By Joshua Pechthalt
UTLA/AFT Vice President
Looking at the numbers
Typically less than 10 percent of eligible voters go to the polls in School Board elections, and that is likely to be the case this time. The results from the 2007 School Board elections give some indication of the votes needed to win this time:

  • District 1: 27,000+ votes cast and LaMotte won with 18,000 votes
  • District 5: 21,000 votes cast and Flores Aguilar won with almost 14,000 votes
  • District 7: 17,000 votes cast and Vladovic won with 9,300 votes

    A key part of UTLA’s campaign will be turning out our members and other union members to vote. UTLA alone has approximately 3,000 members living in each District. Assuming the same turnout in this coming election, UTLA members represent approximately 25 percent to 33 percent of the required number of votes to win. When we add CFT and CTA members who work for other school districts but live in these areas, our candidates potentially have a solid base of support.

    Next Steps
    In the coming weeks, UTLA is planning to convene a citywide chapter chair meeting to discuss the urgency of these races and the need to mobilize our members. Chapters should follow that up with meetings to discuss the issues at stake and to recruit member to make a commitment of at least three hours to one of the races.

    Chapter chairs may want to enlist a point person at the school who can focus on recruiting and coordinating activities, including inviting a UTLA officer, Board of Directors member, or union staff person to discuss the importance of the campaign. Over the next three months we will have to engage tens of thousands of our members, parents, and community members in the importance of these races and the issues that are at stake. With patience, persistence, key talking points, and an army of volunteers, we can change the direction of our School Board and reshape the debate around public education in our district.

    11/8/2010 Post election note. The UTLA won across the board with help from folks who should know better. This is the political reality that frames an education system controlled by elected officials. The teacher unions, especially in highly Democratic states like California, are tragically unbeatable over a multi-year time horizon. In 2010, they swept completely. Who represented the children at elections this year? Ironically, Republicans who the unions convinced voters not to elect. Where is Democratic leadership? What is contradictory about liberal beliefs and putting the interests of children above those of a maniacal union???

    10/31/2010 General Election
    If you're wondering which candidates are going to help California the most in the upcoming election, check out who the UTLA is endorsing and choose the OTHER CANDIDATE. Seriously. It's that simple. The system is broken and while the teacher unions profess to dislike school boards and school administrators, they will accept no substitute. Government run schools are sufficiently mismanaged that teachers want their unions for protection, but at the same time, nobody, for any reason, ever misses a paycheck. It is the evil they know.

    Time and time again we have had to learn that major reforms are only possible when school boards are replaced by mayoral control and true transformation is only possible when schools are privatized: politicians no longer control resource allocation. In short, results are better when there is less democracy. This really does make sense. What do elections have to do with running schools anyway? It turns out quite a lot if what you're trying to do is to protect union power at the expense of children. Stop UTLA

    More Background Reading

    Over time, the teacher unions just cannot be beaten in a political game. Because of their large and consistent revenue stream, willingness to be civilly disobedient, political skill and backup from state and national unions, teacher unions consistently and successfully get their friends elected. Reform stops in its tracts and contract concessions are rolled back. Reformers have emerged from time to time but no collection of elected officials over the past 50 years have been able to hold on long enough to permanently roll back teacher union power in a large school system. Schools are constantly "reforming" but never actually transformed. Unless the power asymmetry is equalized or schools are "wall-to-wall" chartered (privatized), true systemic reform is a practical impossibility.

    Until recently, becoming a book-worm was the only way to see through all of the union smoke-screens. This year, some movies were produced which shed sunlight into this shadowy world. Of course, the unions are saying that these movies are untrue. Learn as much as you can and then decide for yourself.

    When you are ready, please send me an email and sign up at

  • Waiting for Superman, by Davis Guggenheim
  • The Cartel, by Bob Bowden
  • The Lottery, by Madeleine Sackler
  • Teached, by Kelly Amis
  • A Right Denied, by Whitney Tilson

    Here are some blogs:

  • Whitney Tilson
  • Mike Antonucci

    and this is an outstanding new magazine for professors who would rather write about facts than the establishment nostrums.

  • Education Next
  • Here are some good books:

  • The War Against Hope: How Teachers� Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education, by Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education, 2006 Excellent coverage of Los Angeles school board elections
  • Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, by Paul Peterson, 2010 Excellent historical perspective with an optimistic end-note
  • Education Myths, by Jay Greene
  • Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy, by Richard D. Kahlenberg, 2007
    Required reading if you want to understand how and why teachers unionized. Kahlenberg's book is reasonable - his views on education reform are not. Google him to find out more.
  • The Teacher Unions, by Myron Lieberman. Download it here with permission from the author. Buy new here from Amazon.
  • Politics and the PTA, by Charlene Haar. Download it here with permission from the author. Buy new here from Amazon.

    If you have time to kill in Los Angeles, I recommend that you go and see a school board meeting. You can also watch them on cable. To see a group of well-intentioned people doing so many things that will have such little impact on children (and not dealing with the hard questions that really matter), will make you cry. The big stuff, the important stuff: it's all in the union contract and it's untouchable. This is not a knock against school board members per se, only against their naivite. The game is rigged and they're playing along.

    We need each and every school managed with care and accountability to taxpayers and parents. The solution is school choice, money follows the child, school-by-school self-management. In short, wall-to-wall charters.

    Please contact me if you are interested in helping me take a stand for children.