The election to run the United Teachers Los Angeles turned on one big question: Just how political should the union be?
Members seem to have answered “very.”
One-term union president Alex Caputo-Pearl—who is an outspoken critic of charter schools, which tend to hire non-unionized teachers, and of what he sees as a corporate-backed plot to “privatize” the city’s public schools—won a second term by a landslide, receiving over 82 percent of the vote.
Lisa Karahalios, a middle school teacher, challenged Caputo-Pearl, arguing that his focus on politics was causing the union to neglect its bread-and-butter work of advocating for individual educators facing problems at their schools, reports the Los Angeles Times.
There is a similar battle raging in unions around the country. As we reported earlier this year, a group of Denver teachers hope to get their union to focus more on big-picture politics, much like Caputo-Pearl has done during his tenure.
Caputo-Pearl’s reelection bid comes after he succeeded in getting the nation’s second largest school district to agree to cut class sizes and increase salaries.
Like many big-city unions, UTLA has seen its membership shrinking as charter schools have proliferated: The union counted 45,000 members in 2008, and is now down to just 32,000 members, reports the Times.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.