Howard Blume of the L.A.Times penned an interesting account of the “band of left-wing, dissident back-benchers that took over the city teachers union” and how the cadre are up for an election contest. After a three year reign of power, the left-wingers are facing their first election contest that can either affirm their handling of the union or send them packing.

Interestingly, the L.A.Times seems to be weighing in against these left-wing dissidents.

The union’s record over three tumultuous years will give members much to ponder. It includes lost elections, protracted contract struggles, an explosion of mostly non-union charter schools, the response to a botched payroll system and a still-evolving power equation involving Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Much of the spotlight will fall on 64-year-old A.J. Duffy, the passionate, volatile union president who is seeking a second three-year term. But an entire leadership slate faces a rank-and-file referendum. On bread-and-butter issues, Duffy points to a cumulative 8.5% salary raise and to achieving slightly smaller class sizes while maintaining health benefits. More broadly, his team has championed the idea of individual schools governing themselves — with teachers in a leading role. The concept plays to mixed reviews among school reform experts.

This Duffy character is definitely a lightning rod. Telling the Times “I am notorious,” and saying “I drive people crazy. I want it done yesterday,” it is obvious that his presidency is mostly about him and not the job. Naturally, his wild, leftward tilt is helping drive “education” to the last place on the list of interests in L.A.

One of the ideas he helped push was health care benefits for part time cafeteria workers, a complete waste of money in a cash strapped system.

Lets hope that the members of the teachers union see some sense and oust this extremist and his junta of far left ideologues.

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