From Schoolhouse Bullying to Union Bullying: Adams 12 Taxpayer Speaks Out

So you may have heard the Education Policy Center’s Ben DeGrow has started hosting a weekly K-12 education half-hour radio segment on AM 1310 KFKA in northern Colorado, every Wednesday at 10 AM. Earlier today he had a great conversation with a parent and taxpayer from Adams 12 in suburban Denver.

Joe Hein was one of two speakers at a September 5 school board meeting who had to be escorted out for their own protection from teachers union protesters who didn’t appreciate a different opinion on the school board’s difficult budget cut decision. Protesters said the Board is violating the collective bargaining contract by asking teachers to make the same retirement contribution that other Adams 12 employee groups have to make.

From the Colorado Watchdog:

District taxpayer Joseph Hein, who has attended numerous board meetings this year, mentioned the extra burdens parents have taken from recent cuts made to transportation and middle school sports. He then gently urged the District 12 teachers in attendance to listen carefully to the board’s response. “You guys are part of the solution, as well,” he said, while union members waved signs from the crowd.

Watch his brief remarks for yourself. To me, they appear respectful, kind and reasonable.

Nearly 400 union protesters were estimated to be in attendance, a huge number compared to the usual attendance. One news report indicated that protesters came from six other different school districts, and video footage of teachers walking out in protest of another Adams 12 parent’s public comments showed Colorado Education Association president Kerrie Dallman directing traffic.

That’s right. Nearly all the protesters walked out, not bothering to hear the end of Sara Colburn’s testimony, but even worse, not waiting to hear the Board’s response to their expressed concerns. That’s when the two taxpayers, still sitting in the board room, received an unexpected visit:

Afterward, the school district’s head of security approached the speakers out of concern for their safety. “(He) told me he thought it probably would be a good idea if he took us to our cars,” said Colburn. “He said all those people that had cleared out were outside the front doors waiting for us.”

The security officer escorted Colburn and her husband through a separate exit to the back of the building, where he then drove them to their vehicle in the main parking lot. Plain-clothes security officers walked Hein to his car, out of the same concern.

As EAG News’ Victor Skinner characterized the reaction to the taxpayers’ public comment, “their input was clearly not welcome by union members.”

Last week’s Watchdog story also quoted another Adams 12 parent who was too intimidated by protesters’ actions to get up to speak. Afterward, she dispatched a letter to the superintendent and school board, in which she said, “Our teachers spend lots of time on stopping bullying in schools. Well, this group could have taught a class in HOW TO BULLY.” (Not that it’s the first time I’ve had to write about union bullying.)

Which brings us back to square one. If you can find 20 minutes to listen to this morning’s interview, Hein starts off by telling the difficult story of his young daughter being bullied in an Adams 12 school and the poor response that compelled his family to find a different educational option.

As a parent and taxpayer he started following the school board closely and getting actively involved in local education issues. But one wonders if he thought his activism would lead him into a direct and dramatic confrontation with another instance of bullying. Now he and other district residents have begun pushing for district-union negotiations to be open and transparent, so taxpayers and teachers can see what’s being negotiated, to be informed and act accordingly.

The fight for education reform presses on….