How Did I Miss Utah's Union Release Time Accountability Law (They Beat Colorado)?

About eight weeks ago I brought your attention to the fact that Colorado and Michigan taxpayers both are still underwriting teachers union release time. But not so much anymore in one of our neighboring states. This is one to chalk up in the “How did I miss that?” category. Anyway, way back in March, Utah enacted House Bill 183. According to the description from Parents for Choice in Education, a Utah grassroots group backing education reform, the legislation:

Prohibits granting paid association leave and requires reimbursement to a school district of the costs for certain employees, including benefits, for the time that the employee is on unpaid association leave.

What a concept! A March 6 article in the Salt Lake Tribune adds some more perspective:

Now, three Utah districts — Salt Lake, Granite and Davis — pay a portion of their local union presidents’ salaries, though the employees are on leave from teaching, and the union pays the rest of their salaries according to contract agreements.

It’s an even bigger issue in Colorado than in Utah, as my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow demonstrated in his 2010 issue paper Colorado Schools and Association Release Time (PDF). (You know, like unions taking taxpayer-funded leave from the classroom to lobby against the landmark 2010 educator effectiveness legislation.) Maybe some intrepid policy maker in our own Centennial State can help this movement for common sense and public accountability gain traction and move east.