Unions, teachers and school districts are a big part of the national news cycle due to the strike in Chicago. Here at home in Adams County however we have a situation not entirely dissimilar with a school district doing a poor job managing tax payer money and Chicago-style union bullying taking place.
Much could – and has – been written about Adams 12 Five Star School District and the financial woes they are going through. Taxpayers have been extremely generous to the district in recent years and despite assurances to the contrary, the money has not been well managed.
Multiple bond and mill levy issues have put hundreds of millions of dollars in the school district’s coffers.
A big chunk of that was to install air conditioning in all of the district’s schools because, God forbid, children suffer through a hot classroom like we did as kids. Oh the horror! <tongue in cheek>
How well did that work out? This year the district sent an email to parents discussing how their air conditioning systems can’t keep up with the heat and classroom temperatures might be a bit uncomfortable. Really? Then what the hell did we pay for?
Teachers were also to be rewarded as the district promised some of the money would be used to “develop competitive compensation” for teachers. Here we are years later and Adams 12 teachers are some of the lowest paid in the metro area and the few, miniscule pay raises they have seen haven’t even kept up with the cost of living.
Those are but two examples of mismanagement at the district level, there are many more. The botched Auto-Trol deal, failure to seize an opportunity to partner with the City of Thornton to save costs, and the districts willful hiding of theft by two of its teachers are but a few that come to mind.
However, there is plenty of blame to go around and teachers in the district can also point the finger at themselves and their union overlords. These educators might have the public on their side if it were not for labor’s greed.
Teachers hurt their own cause
Ben DeGrow over at Watchdog.org documented the behavior of the District Twelve Educators’ Association (DTEA) and other union thugs at the recent school board meeting.
Teachers are faced with a frozen pay scale and forced increased contributions to their retirement which results in less take home pay so they aren’t entirely out of line being upset, particularly given the mismanagement by the district they and the public have witnessed. However their childish and intimidating actions on September 5th did them more harm than good.
At the outset of the meeting the juvenile behavior not even befitting their students began when teachers all clapped in unison forcing the board to leave the room three times. After five full minutes of this ridiculousness, the meeting began.
Parents supporting the board sat quietly and respectfully while teachers and union reps stated their case. Sadly the educators could not offer the same courtesy.
While Joseph Hein spoke and simply asked for those in attendance to listen to the board and hear what they had to say, teachers held up their protest signs and completely dismissed his comments. It was a display in very poor taste and not in keeping with proper decorum during a meeting of people that are supposed to be professionals.
The worst of the union’s wrath was saved for Adams 12 parent Sara Colburn (watch the video below). Colburn explained that the families of students in the district were hurting too and the teacher’s needed to understand you can’t get blood from a turnip. Before Colburn finished speaking, the union thugs got up and stormed out in protest, again with their ridiculous little clap forcing a pause in the meeting.
Certainly Colburn did not help her cause by making personal remarks toward a teacher that were not conducive to the conversation and were unnecessary. That however does not absolve the teachers of their behavior.
The teachers were not even concerned enough about the outcome of the meeting to come back to it and hear the board’s comments. Like a misbehaved child they simply stormed out and went home. Nice example to set!
In the end, the parents had to be escorted to their cars for fear of reprisals from the union attendees. The video tells the story of union thuggery and intimidation and is quite frankly, unsettling. It is certainly something we might expect in Chicago-style politics, not Colorado.
Childish, boorish and disrespectful would be operative words to describe what happened. Teachers would not tolerate such behavior from their students yet seem to think it was appropriate in this setting.
The teachers were the losers at the meeting both in the outcome itself and in the eyes of parents and taxpayers. No one likes a bully and parents certainly don’t like that behavior in the teachers whose salaries they pay.
Teachers should look hard at their own union
While Adams 12 teachers lament their cut in pay, maybe they should take a closer look at what the union does for them. After all, every card carrying union member forks over nearly $800 a year to their overlords.
The District Twelve Educators Association Political Action Committee has already spent over $7,500 this election cycle and sits on a pretty $74,221 in the bank. The PACs parent organizations, the National Education Association (NEA) and Colorado Education Association (CEA) will spend millions of dollars in the coming months leading up to the election.
Are teachers really foolish enough to believe these organizations spend their money better than they could themselves? Do these groups’ goals and politics really reflect their members?
Looking close to home, Adams 12 teachers should also ask themselves what could be done with the $629,457 the school district is forced to pay out annually for union-related activities. Certainly that money is great for the two full-time union staffers whose salaries the district has to pay but the rank and file teachers see no benefit.
If teachers are truly worried about the children, perhaps they should tell the union to pay their own way. Let’s put that $629,457 in the classroom where it belongs.
In fact, Adams 12 parents should demand that the school board stop subsidizing the unions. No more paying union overlord salaries, no more collecting their dues for free. Why are taxpayers footing the bill for what is clearly not an expense related to the education of our children?
Lessons to learn from this mess
For Adams 12 Five Star Schools:
- Stop moving up the start of the school year. It is hot in August in Colorado, that is a fact. Return it to its traditional start closer to Labor Day and you can save money by not running those air conditioners so early and parents and kids can enjoy their summers as they always have. Parents in Jefferson County fought back against their district on this issue and plenty of Adams County parents are ready to jump in too. The next time you try to adjust the schedule to earlier in August, I can guarantee you push back from parents.
- Stand up to the unions and stop spending our money to support them. It isn’t fair to taxpayers to fork over hundreds of thousands of our dollars to support their activities. No more collecting their dues, no more paying union staff salaries. Let them pay their own way.
- It is apparent that more furlough days are going to be required. Let’s tack those on to the end of the year rather than inconveniencing families by slapping them randomly during the school year. Additional cost savings could likely be realized as well by shutting things down early versus some haphazard open one day closed the next implementation.
- Be better custodians of our money. We are watching and the next time you come to taxpayers with your hand out, we will look back on what you have done with money we gave previously.
For the teachers:
- Your unions aren’t serving your best interests. There is a reason why union participation is dropping quick, including among teachers. Your dues go to fund a political machine more interested in preserving itself than bettering your job or children’s education.
- Read up on Robert’s Rules and learn how professional meetings are conducted. Acting like thugs does nothing to aid your cause. Perhaps read the district’s, your school’s and your own classroom’s rules and conduct yourself as you insist your students must conduct themselves. This is suburban Denver, Colorado – not Chicago – and taxpayers don’t like bullies.
- Learn about alternatives to your machine unions. Your hard-earned money funds what is little more than a political organization. Associations like the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE) give you many of the benefits you see now without the ridiculous cost or the political activism that hurts your cause.
- Be vigilant. Adams 12 has not done well with our money despite the generosity we have shown them. The next time there is a ballot issue asking for more money, think twice – maybe three or four times.
- Don’t be quick to side with the teachers. Sadly, despite being some of the most educated among us, teachers aren’t infallible. They are subject to powers far greater than themselves and they oftentimes are blinded by the unions.
Media watch note: There have been big changes at the Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel and its parent company over the past year or so, some for the better, some for the worse. While overall coverage has been increased, the paper continues its left-leaning bias and no longer even has a conservative columnist among its ranks. Its reporting of this story was so far out of touch with reality it was ridiculous. I am glad we have a local news source dedicated to the north metro area but the Sentinel needs to do better – much better.
Caught on tape – Teachers behaving badly
The video below shows the worst of the teacher’s behavior. Click here to watch the rest of the videos from the board meeting.
Related: CEA Looks Anything But Collaborative in Adams 12 (Colorado Peak Politics)