Teachers or Union Politics? A (Brief) Colorado Tale of Two Recognitions

Have you ever played the “one of these things is not like the other” game with only two things? The results usually are neither too difficult nor surprising. But playing a quick game, like we’re about to do, can still be informative in its own way.

Okay, let’s go. The first item comes compliments of the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Kristina Iodice, who shares the good news that Falcon 49 elementary teacher Melanie Dolifka has been nominated as a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Congrats to Ms. Dolifka, one of the brightest stars in an innovative non-union district, for the great honor!

The second item comes from a new Colorado Watchdog story:

The Colorado Education Association—Colorado’s largest teachers union and a formidable force in state politics amid the 2012 presidential race—is being touted in a recently disclosed union document as an example to other state unions for its success in mobilizing members during elections.

In its internal strategy document issued last December, the National Education Association urged leaders within the union organization to “study Colorado’s success in building a member-to-member campaign over the last few elections.” CEA is getting notice from the nation’s capital, a step up from the self-congratulation after the 2004 election when political director Lynne Mason contradicted union lawyers by noting that their “personal approach made the difference” in setting the standard for grassroots political campaigning.

So there you have it, two different kinds of recognition that may reveal something about priorities: one for an outstanding Colorado teacher and one for outstanding union political campaign efforts. It’s not exactly as compelling as this summer’s story of the Sacramento teacher of the year who was laid off because of union seniority rules, but it’s along the same vein.

Then again, maybe yours truly is getting a little bit too polarizing.