The leaders  of the United Teachers Los Angeles prides themselves on no-holds-barred organizing for the benefit of teachers. But they’ve gone too far in preparing a one-hour strike for this Friday, June 6.

Such a strike, if it’s not stopped by the courts (it’s an outrage that LAUSD agreed to a union contract that permits this kind of spot walkout), could leave classrooms full of children unattended during school hours. UTLA says its teachers have been working with principals on one-hour safety plans. Let’s hope so.

If harm befalls even one child, it should be on the union leaders’ heads.

And even if the children behave themselves and everyone is safe, it’s a public relations fiasco for the union. I was particularly surprised to learn from two union officials that the strike had been backed by a Los Angeles County Federation of Labor committee that has been meeting on ways to protest Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal. UTLA’s leaders have a history of radicalism; the grown-ups at the fed ought to know better.

This is not to say that teachers shouldn’t organize and express themselves. But there are so many other, better ways to go about it.

This weekend in Pasadena, I witnessed a better way. Teachers organized their students over the past week, encouraging them to learn about the budget and making signs protesting the level of education funding. On Saturday, teachers, students, and parents rallied at a school and then marched to a park in the middle of town.

The tableau of children and adults produced significant news coverage and made the point strongly. Some might argue that the children were used as props. But I know dozens of those children — I’ve long coached Little League baseball in the neighborhood where the march originated — and talked to several Saturday. They were as informed about the budget as most adult voters I interview.