Last week I brought your attention to Denver teacher Ronda Reinhardt’s story of the union denying her ability to opt out. She was excited to see a legislative solution proposed, a bill that succeeded yesterday at its first official hearing yesterday, passing Colorado’s House Education Committee:
House Bill 1333, sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, and heard in the House Education Committee, would give school districts 30 days to cancel a teacher’s payroll deductions for vunion [sic] dues after receiving written notification from the teacher.
Under collective bargaining agreements ruling many larger school districts, teachers only may cancel their membership within a two-to-three week “opt-out window” at the beginning of the school year. If they miss the window, they’re obligated to pay dues for the rest of the year.
Two groups came forward to testify against this commonsense legislative proposal. The only argument made by both the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Education Association was that giving teachers more options somehow would violate “local control.” Yes, they seriously hung their case on the claim that the state has no compelling interest whatsoever in ensuring basic rights for teachers. Would CEA make the same case against a state policy that provides classroom instructors with due policy tenure protections? You make the call!
One group celebrating the 7-6 party line vote is the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE), an affiliate of the national non-union professional organization known as the Association of American Educators. PACE membership director Tim Farmer and three PACE member teachers all voiced their support in testimony before the committee, surviving a gauntlet of skeptical questions.
Being at the hearing yesterday in disguise, I was able to watch the proceedings up close and personal. Rather than recapping all the fun, crazy twists and turns here, I urge you to check out my Twitter stream. I’ve posted a couple screenshots below for your enjoyment (from top to bottom, these excerpts of events are in reverse chronological order):
The hour-long hearing truly was an interesting and illuminating exchange. You can catch the April 23 audio online, near the beginning of the six-hour segment. HB 1333 faces a sprint to the finish line, as the legislative session ends in 15 days. Stay tuned!