The Los Angeles teachers union is to hold a confidence vote on Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although the outcome of the vote will have no direct impact on Deasy's job, it will serve as an indicator of the strength of the relationship between the head of the district and teachers it employs.
The chief issue in front of union members is the performance pay system championed by Deasy which will have up to 30% of pay determined by student standardized test scores and other objective achievement measures. Although the union voted to accept the usage of those metrics in pay determinations, they did so only after being forced by the courts.
The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has been at odds with Deasy over various issues, such as his efforts to base layoffs on a merit system rather than seniority. Deasy also has moved quickly to remove and fire teachers suspected of serious misconduct — and is seeking authority from the state to move faster still.
Deasy's own job security was an issue in the March school board election, which ended with mixed results for his supporters.
Voting is set to begin next week and will conclude on April 11th, and members will be asked to decide on the question of whether they have confidence in how Deasy is performing his job. In addition to voting on Deasy, teachers will also be asked to commit or reject the new Initiative for the Schools LA Students Deserve? which calls for working together with the community to negotiate with education officials over issues like class sizes, extra-curricular programs and limits on standardized testing.
The referendum resulted from a petition with 1,130 valid member signatures. The Deasy question was added later, as a result of a vote by UTLA's House of Representatives, which is the union's governing body.
Union President Warren Fletcher has endorsed the organizing initiative. He said he is choosing not to state a position on the no-confidence vote. But the union's newspaper, which is substantially under Fletcher's control, has promoted the no-confidence vote with doctored photos of Deasy and lists of his alleged failings.
Although union president Warren Fletcher declined to state a position on the no-confidence vote, the union newspaper – which is generally considered to be under the president's editorial control – did publish a photoshopped photo of Deasy wearing a chef's hat and a soiled apron accusing him of serving substandard fare to children participating in the classroom breakfast program.