John Ransom

Emails obtained by Townhall Finance show that a recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU in attempt to stop school reform measures in Colorado was really the brainchild of the American Federation of Teachers, the statewide teachers’ union affiliate of the AFL-CIO. In an email to Smith, Smith’s union capos, Courtney Smith and Jennie Peek-Dunstone [eye roll], George Merritt, a senior strategist with OnSight Communications, a local political consulting firm, writes about the ACLU’s decision to sue the district: “I think this is another scenario where we need to keep our cards close to the vest and let the ACLU do what it does. So far, this is playing out exactly as you all planned, so congrats.”[Editor’s emphasis]

The implication is that the ACLU and the local union have cooperated jointly in an attempt to kill school reform measures, despite disavowals by the union’s president Brenda Smith. A substantial portion of Ms. Smith salary and the salaries of her union staffers were paid for directly by the taxpayers of the school district at the same time they were plotting to kill reform.  

In fact, Smith applauded reform measures as they were passed. In response to the district passing a voucher program aimed at expanding school choice- the very program the ACLU sued the district over- Smith had this to say:   

“We applaud the district and teachers for working collaboratively … to ensure money will not leave a budget with scarce resources, holds all participating schools accountable and provides an equal opportunity for all our students,” teachers union President Brenda Smith said in a written statement according to Ednewscolorado.com. “We will continue to monitor its implementation.”



It appears from the email that the union was coached by Merritt to execute a strategy that kept the union out of the limelight, while union officials on the public dole stage-managed efforts at destroying reform measures, including school vouchers, charters schools, merit pay, fiscal transparency and open union negotiations.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.