In their ongoing battle to preserve the education status quo, teachers union officials often find an advantage in sophisticated public relation campaigns.
The side of union officials you don’t observe over the airwaves, however, is the arrogant belief that their narrow political agenda merits special protected status in our taxpayer-funded places of learning.
From its vast resources of member dues, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) finances radio and television ads designed to convince the general public that the organization only cares for kids and knows best how to help them learn.
But cracks in the public image veneer may soon grow larger, as election season has brought out a less seemly side of union leaders. The need to win votes for their candidates and causes must be too compelling. Political power and close alliances with other unions and advocacy groups have trumped both the sanctity of schools and respect for parents and taxpayers.
CEA has to walk a fine line. Teachers and other education employees in Colorado are free to join or not to join a membership organization. Roughly two-thirds of them belong to CEA for a variety of reasons, and some ardently back the political agenda. Many others support collective bargaining but ignore or reject the politics, or they stay aboard for the liability insurance and grievance protections.
Some Colorado teachers go their own way and join an alternative organization or none at all. Witnessing the union’s behavior in at least one school district, more might be convinced to join them.
Last Friday, the CEA-affiliated Poudre Education Association (PEA)—representing K-12 teachers in the northern Colorado university town of Fort Collins—fired the latest salvo in an ongoing struggle to protect their assumed schoolhouse privileges.
Even after legal hearings and local media attention exposed earlier political abuses, PEA used the schools’ interoffice mail system during school