Colorado Teachers Unions May Not Get Day off to Campaign, Have Other Perks

Over at the catchy Flypaper blog, education guru Mike Petrilli talks about his local Maryland teachers union’s get-out-the-vote strategy for Election Day:

Montgomery County schools are not only closed today (purportedly to protect students from intruders, as most schools are used as polling places) but were also closed yesterday. Which means that MCEA’s 12,000 members could spend a long weekend campaigning for Democratic candidates (most likely, across the Potomac in Virginia), and then volunteer at polling places today, all without taking a single hour off of work. That’s pretty smart politically, but what’s the justification for students to miss two days of school in the middle of the fall semester?

A good question. I am pleased to report that there seems to be no evidence of this sort of thing going on along Colorado’s Front Range. A quick search of the eight largest school districts in the Denver metro area – Jefferson County, Denver, Douglas County, Cherry Creek, Aurora, Adams 12, Boulder Valley, and Littleton – show they are all in regular session today on Election Day (as well as yesterday). That’s good news, though I’m already wondering if I should be careful about giving out unsolicited ideas here.

While the local teachers unions apparently don’t have a full-scale election holiday, many of them have other smaller perks for union leaders and activists to get out of regular duty. Many collective bargaining agreements grant a set of leave days for union-sponsored activities, with the taxpayers sometimes funding both the teachers on leave and the substitutes hired to take their place. Some collective bargaining agreements also offer an extended half-year or full-year off-duty for the local union president, with the school district picking up part of the cost. The union president leaves the classroom for a full year of more to lobby and represent her organization, an activity subsidized by the public!

You can find more detail here in this publication (PDF) written by our own Ben DeGrow. Even if the actual cost isn’t enormous, you may come to agree that taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing these activities.