The obvious view is that today’s election for two Los Angeles Unified School District board seats is the latest battle in the ongoing proxy war over charter schools. It is that, but it’s also the first phase of United Teachers Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl’s grand design to alter the direction of California politics.
Caputo-Pearl spelled it out in a speech last July before an audience of union activists. First would come victory in the LAUSD board races. Then, coordinated bargaining in LA, San Diego, San Bernardino, Oakland and San Francisco as teacher contracts expire in June. This would be followed by creating “a state crisis in early 2018” possibly in the form of a multi-district strike. After that, victory for the union’s hand-picked candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial race. All of which would culminate in the grand prize: the gutting of Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot initiative that capped the state’s property tax rates.
I doubt a defeat in today’s election will derail this freight train, but it might slow down Caputo-Pearl’s statewide ambitions. It’s traditional for California’s teacher unions to overreach when things are going their way. But their grasp has grown long, and it’s hard to determine what’s beyond their capabilities.