In a victory for opponents of a proposed ballot initiative that would largely eliminate bilingual education in California, members of United Teachers Los Angeles have rejected a referendum that called for the teachers union to support the measure.

The referendum would have directed the 32,000-member UTLA to endorse the “English for the children” initiative proposed by Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz. But the referendum failed, with 7,821 members voting no and 7,221 members voting yes, UTLA spokesman Steve Blazak said Tuesday.

Sherri Annie [sic], spokeswoman for the Unz initiative, said she was pleased with the vote because it showed “that so many teachers in the trenches would support the initiative.”

But Kelly Hayes-Raitt, spokeswoman for a coalition opposing the measure, said she was not surprised by the vote. “Teachers know what’s in Unz, and I trust the voters will vote the same way when they vote on June 2.”

Backers of the initiative have submitted the signatures of roughly 750,000 voters to qualify the measure for the June primary ballot. They need 433,269 valid signatures.

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