John Ransom

In six weeks there will be a little-followed election that could help determine the path for education reform in the United States for a long time to come. At issue is whether a local school board has the authority to tell the government employee union—you know, the forces of darkness that are preventing commonsense education reform in our schools? -- to take a hike.

In July 2012, that’s exactly what Douglas County, Colorado school board decided. After months of negotiations the school board reached an impasse with the union as their contract expired.

Previously the union has demanded that the school district pick up the salaries of the union executives, deduct union dues automatically and force teachers to buy only the union’s professional liability insurance.

“Teacher unions in 20 Colorado school districts have spent more than $5.8 million in taxpayer dollars on union activities in the past five years,” reported Heartland on the basis of an analysis from the Denver Post, “from union presidents’ salaries to paid teacher days off. Collective bargaining agreements between unions and these districts compelled tax funding beyond the dues collected from teacher payrolls.”

Added to the normal union nonsense that one encounters in public schools, the district in Douglas County decided to go on their own without any intermediary between the teachers and district.

The district sent out individual contracts to teachers who almost unanimously signed them and sent them back.

Oh, and the teachers got fairly significant raises.

Yes, at a time when other school districts are laying off teachers and forcing teachers to take pay cuts, Douglas County School District—without a union-- was able to actually increase teacher pay while retaining teachers as well.

In fact, financially the district has never done better. That’s one of the union talking points too. They are miffed that the district’s “fund balance” (think “cash in the bank”) has grown from around $21 million to over $83 million.

Union stooges promise to change the way the school district does business, even including the fact that the district has done a great job building up the fiscal resources of the district as seen in their own flyer above


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.
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