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Open Window on Bargaining: As Thompson Moves Ahead, Teachers Express Support

You can’t judge a book by its cover. There are many expressions like this one out there that convey a basic piece of wisdom. A beautiful building you may have driven by many times could be a filthy mess inside. How do you know? If it’s somebody’s house or private property, they would have to invite you inside for you to properly find out for yourself.

But if that building is a place where tax dollars are paying officials to negotiate how tax dollars are spent and policies are made for our public schools, then there’s no reason for the doors to be locked. Citizens should be able to peer inside and know what’s going on.

The Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE) — one of Colorado teachers’ professional membership options — today highlighted some interesting results from their latest member survey, showing that most of their members like the idea:

The Professional Association of Colorado Educators recently asked member educators their views on a variety of relevant policies related to education in Colorado. One of these issues related to whether or not negotiations between school boards and union officials should be open to the public. An overwhelming 81% of respondents agreed that these negotiations should be open to the public.

The news is noteworthy, given the grassroots momentum from everyday Colorado citizens to bring more transparency to the union bargaining process. Poudre (Fort Collins) had the policy in place for years, with little notice.

Then, not long after my Education Policy Center friends released a paper bringing attention to the topic, Colorado Springs 11 started to crack the “cone of silence” a couple years ago. Last year Douglas County made open negotiations cool. Now, thanks to the work of local citizens at Liberty Watch, Thompson (Loveland) is the latest to push the trend forward.

Negotiations have moved ahead, according to the local Reporter-Herald, but some of the issues that concerned citizens signed onto are not getting any attention or discussion.

Still, simply put, more information and insight into how tax dollars are being spent… is better! To see the transparency train roll ahead, to drive us past the collaborative mirage, is truly uplifting. But then, to see the survey results that show many teachers also like the idea reaffirms the positive response one Adams 12 taxpayer received when he proposed the idea to his local school board. Wouldn’t it be nice for Adams 12 to be next on the list!

Though sadly the legislature last year ultimately rebuffed a bill to open union negotiations, the groundswell continues in key communities and districts across Colorado. Now isn’t the time to stop the drive for transparency in other places, nor to initiate some reforms based on policies exposed through the process.

Let’s open a window on these important union negotiations.