Lucky Colorado. Yesterday the president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union paid a visit. Ed News Colorado reports that while AFT’s Randi Weingarten stopped in to tout an innovative school nutrition program at Denver’s Cole Arts and Science Academy, she also used her big political stick to bash the Douglas County school board:
“This is what’s infuriating to me,” said Weingarten. “Here we have Denver, which took the germ of an idea and it has blossomed into this amazing thing with workers and management re-envisioning the school kitchen.
“And across the border is Douglas County, where the school board is only interested in its own power. Douglas County schools used to be on the cutting edge in Colorado. But rather than respect the staff, for political and malevolent reasons the board has undermined the public education system that once was known as the jewel of Colorado.”
Why is she so upset?
Because the Dougco school board bid adieu to the teachers union and stopped the machine of collecting dues money for the AFT political machine. So we can understand why Weingarten might be upset.
But there are a couple other takeaways from the AFT president’s remarks. First, she has forecast a disaster for Douglas County students, parents and teachers. Is she tipping off a union slash-and-burn strategy, perhaps to send a message that other school boards dare not follow Dougco’s example and cut into her Washington, D.C., office’s campaign coffers? Second, she has reminded us why the Board has followed the bold path it has bringing the national union forward as the clear antagonist to Dougco’s bold reforms.
As Dougco school board president John Carson told Ed News Colorado:
“The Douglas County Federation of Teachers really has its strings pulled by the national union in Washington, D.C., and that’s demonstrated by the fact that that’s where they send the majority of their union dues, to the national union for politics,” Carson said. “The Douglas County Federation of Teachers is really more interested in national politics and is not interested in the educational interests of kids in Douglas County.”
While the groundbreaking choice and performance-based reforms in Colorado’s third-largest school district are too much for Randi Weingarten and AFT to fathom, she did give the Ed News reporter an idea of what type of reforms are appealing to the national union powerhouse: “the Denver pay-for-performance experiment,” better known as ProComp.
Of course, calling ProComp performance pay would be generous. I like the talking dog metaphor better. Real educator performance pay is moving forward in… Dougco, of all places.
Thanks for visiting Denver, Ms. Weingarten. Please come again.