Have Colo. Springs Union Leaders Given Up Safeguarding "the Future of Children"?

Remember about six weeks ago when I told you that the Colorado Springs Education Association (CSEA) was blackballing the District 11 Board of Education’s decision to open collective bargaining negotiations to public observation? CSEA president Kevin Marshall told the Colorado Springs Gazette that the decision was made to “protect the integrity of the collective bargaining agreement between teachers and safeguard the future of children by keeping the negotiations private.”

The Gazette reported last night that a new chapter has begun in the struggle over whether to keep negotiations open or closed. It appears that the union reluctantly has agreed to jeopardize “the future of children” — well, maybe just a little bit, since only one of many sessions has been opened:

The open session will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Jefferson Education Center, 1801 N. Howard Ave., off Leleray Street.

People may stay for the entire 12 hours, or they may come and go as they wish said District 11 board President Tom Strand.

As the article goes on to explain, Friday’s session covers Article X (Teaching Conditions/Assignments) and Article XI (Professional Rights and Responsibilities) of the District 11-CSEA Master Agreement (PDF). That’s good, but what about Article III (Association Rights)? Here’s guessing CSEA negotiators already have tried to close the books on that one, since it covers most of the power, perks and goodies.

Even getting one session open likely wouldn’t have happened without a lawsuit filed by District 11 parent Chad Lawson. Decisions about future sessions remain up in the air. Who would have guessed getting a government education agency to open up negotiations over taxpayer-funded policies and initiatives would be so much like pulling teeth? Okay, yeah, even a little kid like me can get sarcastic about this sort of thing pretty quickly.

(Speaking of sarcasm, hopefully you noted that I don’t believe closing negotiations will “safeguard the future of children.” But a CSEA official raised the stakes with the rhetoric in his comment. If union leaders really believe what they say, keeping the doors shut on bargaining talks should be a matter of higher priority. However, most of my readers know better.)

Inform yourself on the issue of open negotiations by reading the 2010 issue backgrounder by my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado still appears to be doing what it can to make District 11 transparent.