A reader who attended the recent Los Angeles school board meeting noticed the effort by a board member to prevent Warren Fletcher, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, from speaking. The sequence is fascinating and well worth reading (and watching).
If you really want to see, in action, Board Member Tamar Galatzan’s (and also Board Member Monica Garcia’s) animus towards teachers’ unions, go to:
BACKGROUND: the rules and etiquette at LAUSD board meetings has always been to allow the UTLA President to speak on an issue without a speaker card, after the 7 public commenters have finished. Well, this precedent was almost broken at this meeting… almost.
Keep that in mind when you watch this at:
UTLA President Warren Fletcher, always eloquent, knowlegable, and articulate, approaches the mic to talk and Galatzan tries to silence him, and move on to the next phase where Board Members then comment.
Galatzan, who has taken over as presiding chair, is stopped by Fletcher, who asks for his customary time to speak. Incredibly, Galatzan snaps at him, “You do not have a speaker card.” (Mind you, he represents over 35,000 teachers and other educators)
Fletcher: “Excuse me. May I – ”
Galatzan: “Hold on one second. Hold on one second. Seven speakers… you do not have a speaker card.”
Fletcher: “Excuse me. I – ”
Galatzan looks away dismissively from Fletcher, and addresses the other Board members.
Galatzan: (turns away) “Okay, umm, thank you. Questions and comments?”
People in the crowd start shouting objections to Galatzan, and Galatzan responds with condescension.
Galatzan: “I’m sorry. The rules is that we have seven speakers. We’ve heard seven speakers.”
—(fixing her eyes on Fletcher)
“Now, we’re done with Public Comment period. There’s now – ”
The crowd then erupts with shouts “Let him speak!!!”
Galatzan: “There’s now time for the Board Members to comment if they should desire. Do any of my colleagues on the board have any questions of comments on Number 45?”
More objections shouted from the crowd.
Veteran Board member Margueritte Lamotte then chimes in an exasperated tone.
LaMotte: “Can we have not ask for permission for the president to speak?”
The crowd grows louder.
Galatzan: (irritatated, but gives in) “Oh. Go ahead.”
The crowd applauds.
Fletcher: “Thank you, Madame Chair.”
He then proceeds to give Zimmer a run for his money in the speech-making department. Fletcher doesn’t attack Parent Revolution, or anyone from Parent Revolution personally. Wisely, he attacks the law itself, saying correctly that “it guarantees bad outcomes.. ”
Fletcher continues: ” … because this law is built on the premise is that the only way that a school can be improved is when one group of stakeholders starts blaming another group of stakeholders. It is a law based on the idea that we can improve schools by scapegoating… and it is a law that is based on the belief that the only way we can have progress in a school community is if we divide the school in to ‘us’ and ‘them.’ As a 29-year teacher in this district, I can tell you that the parents in this district are being presented with a cruel hoax by this law.
“It is a mechanism to turn ‘hope’ into ‘hate’, and that law is a legal framework to set people against each other. I, as President of UTLA, am proud to say that we reach out to parents, and we set up meetings with parents, and as soon as Parent Trigger is mentioned, suddenly UTLA cannot even get a Civic Center permit. Suddenly, UTLA runs into legal obstacle after legal obstacle. What we are doing is playing ‘adult conflict games,’ and we are fiddling while Rome burns!
“It is important that this school board, and the senior administration and the superintendent of this district obey the law, but it is also important that a framework is developed like in Mr. Zimmer’s motion that this law does not sow hatred, and does not debilitate school communities. To this point, the senior leadership of this district has been, I think, unready to take on the fact that we in Los Angeles bringing groups together, bringing parents, teachers and students and the community and everyone together, and end this sowing of hate!”
… and on he goes.
Watch and listen to Fletcher passionately and brilliantly lay out the truth about this situation, and you’ll see why the corporate-funded, pro-privatization Galatzan fought so hard to keep him speaking.