Los Angeles teachers union President Warren Fletcher has announced a new push to reduce class sizes in the wake of a "no confidence" vote by his members against LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.
"Here in Los Angeles, class sizes have ballooned in recent years," Fletcher said during a news conference Thursday at United Teachers Los Angeles headquarters in Koreatown.
"It is time for us to use those dollars ... as California voters intended for them to be used, directly for students," he said, referring to last year’s passage of Proposition 30, which raised taxes.
"UTLA will be tackling the issue of class size immediately," he added.
Fletcher was emboldened by the results of voting on two matters put before his membership, which includes LAUSD teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors. The highest-profile question asked members whether they had "confidence" in Deasy's leadership. About 91% of those casting ballots -- more than half of those in the union -- said they did not.
Another measure asked members to approve a list of academic and workplace priorities; 77% favored that package.
Deasy dismissed the referendum as "nonsense," even before learning of the results, saying he preferred to focus on helping students. The referendum has no binding effect on the district.
Besides taking on class sizes, Fletcher pledged to fight for full staffing -- including nurses, librarians and counselors -- at schools.
Both initiatives have the potential to benefit students while restoring jobs among the union membership, which has seen a number of layoffs during several years of budget cuts. Fletcher said the passage of Proposition 30, means the school district can and must rebuild programs.
He also accused Deasy and the Board of Education of misusing scarce resources on "phony reforms."
He said there was an "excessive reliance on testing" and "test-score driven evaluation" and a "hyper-simplified use of test scores in evaluations." He added that he opposed any effort to move the district in the direction of offering higher pay to teachers based on test scores.
"In many ways, the educational program is not on the right track," Fletcher said.
However, a group of civic leaders wrote to the school board Thursday in Deasy's defense.
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