Professional Pay and Behavior in Jefferson County Contract Impasse?

Update , 12:45 PM: It looks like Jeffco isn’t alone with the impasse problem. Some teachers in Boulder Valley School District have taken it even further, staging a sick-out at Broomfield High School (H/T Complete Colorado).

And it’s not the first time. Five years ago — when I was just a wee baby — the Boulder Valley Education Association staged a major “sick-out”. Then, as now, the terms of their collective bargaining contract read:

There will be no strikes or other individual or concerted action designed to deprive the youth in the schools of services of Unit B employees [ed note: teachers and other certified professional non-administrative employees]. Any employee who engages in such actions during the term of this Agreement shall be subject to severe disciplinary action. Such disciplinary action shall be subject to the Grievance Procedure contained in this Agreement, except where applicable the state statute will apply.

Earlier this week I pointed you to a breaking story from my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow about teacher contract negotiations breaking down in Colorado’s largest school district.

Well, the online journalists at Face The State picked up the ball with a full-length story today, including quotes from a representative of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) — the local teachers union.

The good news is that the union doesn’t appear ready to jump off the cliff and walk the picket line. The bad news is they seem ready to promote unprofessional behavior among the district’s teachers:

[Spokesman Dexter] Meyers [sic] said an impasse does not mean a strike. “Teachers have many tools in their collective action bag short of a strike,” he said.

One such tool, says Meyers, includes teachers working to the letter of the contract. “Our teachers put in an average of about 60 hours a week,” he said. “Our contract pays them 40 hours a week.”

Ben also got a couple licks in, noting that the district would be better off making changes to the way teachers are paid:

“It would not be wise to use the stimulus money for salary increases because that is only one-time money,” DeGrow aded [sic]. “President Obama has touted reform, so it would be better to see this money used to actually push reforms, like performance pay.”

Of course, that’s the kind of “professional pay” you won’t hear JCEA and its state body the Colorado Education Association arguing for. (I hope they don’t consider work slowdowns “professional behavior”.) If the impasse doesn’t get resolved, however, a much different kind of argument may be on our hands.