Et tu, Antonio?

Via EducationNews.org, we discover that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — a Progressive’s Progressive if ever Southern California had one — has finally caved:

Antonio Villaraigosa, once a labor organizer in Los Angeles and beloved by his union supporters who backed him in his elections to the State Assembly and his current mayoral office, is one of a growing number of Democratic mayors who have switched positions regarding unions in education. The Los Angeles Mayor describes the teachers union as an ‘unwavering roadblock’ to the improvement of public education in the city.

My personal suspicion is that these Democrat mayors know that the unions are essentially ideological hostages: they have nowhere else to go.  What are they going to do with their political warchests, throw in behind a conservative?  That’s the cost of putting yourself out on the political extreme in a two-party system: you sometimes just have to take it and like it.

It’s interesting (if that’s not too vague a word) to see the prise de fere going on in the political rhetoric, too:

The unions, already feeling under assault from Republican strongholds pushing through reform legislation and neutering tenure wherever possible, are unhappy at what they see as the betrayal of Democrat’s supporting the reformists in their battle, but the reformers will claim that they’re not fighting against the unions per se, but are fighting for the children being failed by the current system.

It’s always for the children, isn’t it?

LA mayor attacks teachers’ union

Los Angeles’ teachers union has been an  “unwavering roadblock to reform” for the last five years, said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former teachers’ union employee, in a Sacramento speech. He called for change in tenure, teacher evaluations and seniority, reports the Los Angeles Times. (Fox & Hounds has the text.)

“At every step of the way, when Los Angeles was coming together to effect real change in our public schools, UTLA was there to fight against the change and slow the pace of reform,” Villaraigosa declared at a forum of the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank.

The mayor had been at odds with the teachers union for years but had never until now called the union out so vociferously.

Villaraigosa defines himself as a “progressive” and a man of the left, writes the Times. In the speech, he talked about his background as a union organizer and legislative advocate. He also said, “The most powerful defenders of the status quo are the teachers’ unions. They intimidated people, especially Democrats, from doing anything about reform.”

The mayor has clashed with the union for years, but never this openly. I wonder if he’s watching videos of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

A majority of school board seats are up in the March 8 election and Superintendent Ramon Cortines is retiring.