Transparent Negotiations: Bringing the Public into Public School Districts

Yesterday I reported to you about the latest in teacher contract negotiations in Greeley. Would the public benefit by having greater access to school district collective bargaining negotiations?

One of the best and brightest, Mike Antonucci, today says yes — citing a series of cases of re-appropriated funds, school calendar changes, grievance abuses, and restrictive work rules.

My Education Policy Center friends currently are investigating negotiation policies of school districts across Colorado, but there is no evidence thus far of any districts taking a proactive transparent stance on union negotiations. More often districts have policies expressly prohibiting any sort of openness.

A common reply is that there’s no real interest from the public in the minute details of labor negotiations. Of course, how many taxpayers can possibly prioritize the time to attend the meetings or even request these records? But this should be a niche to be filled by the press (and maybe bloggers like little old me).

Antonucci recently demonstrated how this could work, but rarely does work, by highlighting what happened when a local newspaper covered an open teacher termination hearing.

Yes, it’s not just bargaining sessions that could benefit from more openness. Transparency underscores the fact that the public education system first and foremost belongs to the public — to families, to taxpayers, to voting citizens.