Independence Institute Report Highlights K-12 Bargaining Reform Opportunities

Yesterday was Labor Day. Which makes it a coincidence that my Education Policy Center friends decided to publish this report today, titled Nine Key Changes at the Bargaining Table:

Of Colorado’s 178 school districts, 41 have a formal bargaining relationship with one or more employee unions. Because Colorado has no defined public-sector labor law, the greatest opportunity to reform restrictive policies and interest group privileges comes at the local school board level. Recent bargaining reforms in other states show the fiscal benefits that may be realized from adopting this approach. The few high-quality academic studies of the question all show that restrictive bargaining policies have a negative impact on student learning.

The dynamics of union negotiations make it more difficult for school board directors to effect positive change. For instance, certain elements of a negotiated agreement may be off-limits to discuss or change except in years when the contract’s terms are set to expire. Persistence and public support are important to achieving reforms through collective bargaining. Board directors are far more likely to succeed in ensuring concessions if they take direct involvement in the process.

The report goes on to recommend nine specific areas ripe for change in many Colorado school district collective bargaining agreements. What are those nine areas, you say? Well, you have to read the report for that. If you are familiar with this blog and the work of the Independence Institute, few if any will be a surprise.

Our state’s school board elections are approaching. No doubt there are in many districts reform-minded candidates who have ideas of what they want to change. But maybe some are looking for a few more ideas. If so, then send them to read Nine Key Changes at the Bargaining Table. We can’t keep doing things in K-12 education the same way and expect better results. It’s time to get smarter. This report provides a small part of the solution.