Hoping Not to See More of the Same from Boulder, Teachers Union

It doesn’t seem that long ago the school year was winding down, and up in Boulder many teachers were calling in sick as a form of protest: sort of a collective temper tantrum. Now students and parents in the district may wonder what’s coming next.

As the Boulder Daily Camera and Denver Post have both reported, 94 percent of Boulder Valley Education Association members (or about 75 percent of all Boulder Valley teachers) have voted to reject a contract offer that included across-the-board 1 percent bonuses but no permanent pay raise.

Hey, I might vote against it, too — but for different reasons, I can assure you.

First of all, take note that many Boulder Valley teachers still will get a raise by virtue of moving up the salary schedule in years of experience and/or advanced course credit. But continuing to pour more money through the outdated and inefficient salary schedule merely strains the tensions between taxpayers and union teachers, while doing next to nothing to move the ball on student achievement.

Boulder Valley instead should take a look at what Tulsa, Oklahoma, is doing to revamp how teachers are paid. It’s attracting millions of dollars in private foundation money to reward effective instruction, and ultimately to advance student learning.

I’m not saying the district’s limited across-the-board offer — given very difficult economic conditions — is worthy of another “sickout” tantrum. Not at all. For the sake of my fellow kids, I hope that the union would avoid anything like an unauthorized strike action. But it does make you wonder why BVEA is opposed to mediation from a neutral, third-party fact-finder, and why the district is so far behind the curve (read: “unprogressive”) when it comes to reform.