Battering Down the Gates

Unions often complain that there isn’t enough member involvement. They may have to reassess that wish, if the situation in United Teachers Los Angeles is any indication.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a substantial number of challengers won election to the union’s House of Delegates in the last election. Most are associated with Educators 4 Excellence, Teach Plus and Teachers for a New Unionism, all of whom “are funded by major nonprofits, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

As you might imagine, this isn’t sitting too well with union insiders.

“Taking over our House of Reps is clearly their strategy to destroy us,” wrote teacher Anne Zerrien-Lee in an email posted to an online teachers forum.

“We have enough enemies outside of UTLA that we shouldn’t have to deal with school district and Gates puppets within,” said regional union leader Scott Mandel in an interview.

Teachers should have the kind of representation they want, but if the Gates Foundation really is trying to undo the union from within, it will find that reforming the public school system is a piece of cake in comparison.