An old saying goes that those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. And those who can't teach, teach teachers—or we'd add—run for president of their union. Consider the colorful cast of characters challenging United Teacher Los Angeles (UTLA) chief Warren Fletcher in this month's election.
Mr. Fletcher is running for his second, three-year term. As the incumbent, he would seem to be the front-runner. However, union members have criticized Mr. Fletcher for being too soft, and many of the 10 candidates vying to replace him are promising to take a more adversarial tack with reformist Superintendent John Deasy. But many also have personal bugaboos that they want to address.
Kevin Mottus, who has worked as a counselor for 14 years, lists protecting "our teachers and students from the harmful microwave RadioFrequency Radiation being emitted from the WiFi and iPads in the new wireless classrooms" as his top priority.
Leonard Segal, a substitute teacher, insists that "something should be done about there being no consequences for students who traumatize a teacher" by making false accusations of misconduct.
Meantime, David Garcia, a substitute teacher who was laid off in 2011, pledges to "ensure accusations of inappropriate conduct, sexual harassment, or any other behavior not found to represent the values of the Los Angeles School District would face an immediate and swift condemnation!" However, his top priorities are to "Publically [sic] condemn U.S. Foreign Occupation" and end military recruiting at schools.
Saul "The Fighter" Lankster believes "there is a quiet war against teachers and against public education." As president, he promises to obtain a "cease fire" in the "war against teachers that is being orchestrated by Superintendent Deasy on behalf of his former boss Bill Gates. " Mr. Deasy once served as deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's education division.
Marcos Ortega II, who was removed from the classroom for aggressive behavior, claims he was called to run for president. "In life, we tend to think, we choose things, the reality, is, they pick us," he says. More likely, he was tired of whiling away time in putatively inhuman "teacher jails" that house tenured teachers who cannot be fired. "We should have access to a library, teaching peraphanelia [sic] and other things needed," he complains. "We cannot even water the trees, that by the way of dying of thirst." Such syntax and grammatical errors in the candidates' statements were fairly typical
It's too bad only one of these guys can be president. Students might benefit if more lame teachers were removed from the classroom and elevated to union leadership posts. Personally, we're pulling for Mr. Mottus. Students would be better off if the union focused on microwave radiation safeguards than unwieldy teacher protections.