Lessons from Boulder Valley: Hoping for No Strike and Even More

The negotiations surrounding the teachers union contract have broken down. Now the situation appears to be getting quite tense in the Boulder Valley School District. Last week I expressed my hopes that the teachers choose to act like professionals, rather than rehash last spring’s “sick out” or even worse.

This Daily Camera report (complete with video) from Tuesday’s Boulder Valley School Board meeting indicates the growing possibility that my hopes may not be met:

Union officials said they don’t know what value fact-finding would provide, and they’d rather go through the budget to find the money needed to move toward professional pay.

Regardless of how negotiations move forward, King has said schools won’t be interrupted. The teachers’ union has said taking some sort of “job action,” such as a strike, is a possibility but they hope to avoid it. [emphases added]

Four items to consider:

  • First, when the reporter writes about “professional pay”, she is not referring to paying teachers like professionals. It’s sad to see no interest from either side in this dispute in moving away from the antiquated salary schedule toward rewarding teachers with a variety of performance incentives closely tied to successful student growth.
  • Second, I understand why union officials want to rummage through the district budget to find more money. So why not advocate for true financial transparency and open up the books so taxpayers can see how money is being spent and look for efficiencies? If teachers are being shortchanged in the district’s finances, shouldn’t we at least to let the public see for themselves?
  • Third, I sincerely hope there is no strike in Boulder Valley. But if there is, everyone involved would be wise to learn the lesson of Colorado’s last teachers strike (1994 in Denver): “No Work, No Pay” (PDF).
  • Fourth, teachers in Boulder Valley and other Colorado schools who don’t prefer this confrontational approach can always afford to be reminded of their membership options — especially during this time of year.

Remember, all four of these recommendations are for the sake of kids like me! For anyone interested, the Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer also shares the union’s side of the story.