Colorado Needs Standards for Tax-Funded Union Release Time

In many Colorado school districts, taxpayers are subsidizing union presidents and/or other officers to take release time from the classroom for union business. Back in 2003-04 the practice cost Colorado taxpayers at least $775,000 (PDF). Since nothing is known to have changed to crack down on the process, the figure must be considerably more these days.

What exactly are union officials doing with their taxpayer-subsidized time, and how can we find out? Bargaining negotiations? Grievance procedures? District committees? Political activities?

As my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow argued in a post last week for Education News Colorado, maybe it’s time for Colorado to follow Utah’s lead.

Click the play button below (or follow this link directly) to listen to Judi Clark, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education, give an update on Utah’s issues with paid union release time on a new iVoices podcast interview:

In our neighbor to the west, state auditors investigated and found (PDF) that many school districts and their local union presidents were not accounting in any real way for their release time.

Apparently, in Utah, the law requires school boards to “ensure that the duties performed by employees on paid association leave directly benefit education within the school district” and to document the practice.

Maybe that’s a good place for Colorado to start.