21st 2015
Thompson Board Stands Firm on Bad Contract; Union Backers Go Haywire

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

Yesterday I prepped you for the big vote and showdown at last night’s Thompson school board meeting on whether to accept the proposed union contract update. I told you it could go one of two ways: Either the return to the drawing board 1) resulted in some reasonable solutions to board director concerns that could be adopted, or 2) the board would take the historic step of rejecting the contract.

In case you haven’t heard, the city of Loveland witnessed Option #2 unfold. By a vote of 4-3, the union contract failed again. By collaborating to ignore nearly all the concerns raised, union leaders and district bureaucrats effectively dared the school board to stand firm or fail. The Reporter-Herald‘s Pamela Johnson quoted remarks from most of the board members, including president Bob Kerrigan:

“I don’t accept where this is at,” Kerrigan said. “I don’t believe this is innovative at all. I’m looking for things that are going change what this district is going to do.

“Graduation rates are down. Our third-grade reading is down. We have struggled. We’ve got to change. We can’t continue down this path and expect things to change.”

The union Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is set to expire on June 30. Johnson notes that it’s unclear what happens next.

Complete Colorado reporter Sherrie Peif digs deeper into the ambiguity. There is some indication that the process could continue into mediation, but it well may be the board would have to vote to approve that as well.

Interestingly, Peif brings a couple key overlooked facts to light. First, the rally held before the meeting was directed by none other than CEA president Kerrie “All Teachers Do the Same Job” Dallman:

At least yesterday’s protest was related to education and not fast food. Not surprising, though, since Complete Colorado earlier reported that CEA was behind the April petition to the Thompson school board urging them to “reconsider” their proposed changes to the district’s MOU.

(Interestingly, one of the pro-union board members dismissed half of the pro-reform messages she received from the community as being “fake” — without providing any evidence to support her claim.)

In her latest story, Peif also captured audio of the deranged and immature reaction that ensued when the board voted to reject the status quo MOU:

Kerrigan, Rice, Carlson, and Langner sat quietly and said nothing while, one after another, teachers, parents and fellow board members attacked them with negative comments. Audience members compared Kerrigan, who called for innovation in the contract, to Adolph Hitler, and shouted “Long live the king.”

Hitler? Seriously… Hitler??? He was a really, really, really bad guy who lived a long time ago, my Gramps says, shaking his head in disbelief. Time to invoke Godwin’s Law and move on.

As for the serious adults in the conversation, it’s time to focus on moving forward without a union contract (140 Colorado school districts do it, you know) while continuing the conversation with teachers and looking for ways to reward great instruction.


8 Responses to “Thompson Board Stands Firm on Bad Contract; Union Backers Go Haywire”

  1. Steve Howard on 22 May 2015 at 3:42 am #

    Dear Sir: Ms. Peif states that she “prepped for the big vote and showdown..” In my opinion, she didn’t do a very good job of prepping.
    I was at the second meeting of the Thompson School Board. (Yes, there were two meetings.) The above article fails to objectively point out:
    a. For one, Mr. Carlson, Board Member, who wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Reporter Herald Newspaper, stated that the negotiations did not (paraphrase) “put the students first…” The four Board members who asked for change, never put forth, specifically, what they wanted… to their own negotiation team (“District bureaucrats”). The token phrases “Pay for Performance,” “Reward the good teachers” were never supported by concrete suggestions on how to accomplish this by the Board members. The District Administrators and Thompson Education Association members negotiated from January on… then, the Board majority voted, “No.” What a set-up for failure.
    b. If I am reading this article correctly, Ms. Sherrie Peif states that the “Pro union Board Member, …states that half of the pro-reform messages as being fake… offers no proof.” This reporting is completely inaccurate. First of all, the Board member held up a stack of emails for all to see. All you have to do is ask Lori,”show me.” She is quite approachable, if the reporter had asked.
    Secondly, she said they were “form letters,” not fake, “which she did not appreciate.”
    c. Disclosure. I am a retired special education teacher from the Thompson School District. Previously, I worked on a team comprised of Board members, Administration staff, Thompson Education Association members, teachers, speech therapists… to write Addendum F, of the Memoradum of Understanding (MOU), or, as Ms. Peif calls it, “a bad union contract.” It is a section that specifies a process for adding (additional) special education personnel. The District did not have a process before this year-long effort. Mr. Kerrigan, Board President, in part, said this (document) is 100 pages (too) long … and summarily dismissed approximately thirty years of work… collaboration. A couple of the provisions of the MOU states that teachers shall have 30 minutes of duty-free lunch; solid blocks of planning time, and other earth shaking provisions. Yes, we had to fight for these ” It’s the work rules that kill you:” John Caldara, Devils Advocate, channel 12).
    d. Any citizen who has read the Reporter Herald newspaper for the last two years, can readily see that community members have questioned the leadership, and direction, of the newly elected Board members. Where is this statement of fact from Ms. Peif, in her prep work?
    e. One of the first actions the new Board members took, was to hire an out-of-town attorney, with costs approaching/over $100,000, “to help guide the Board in charting new waters.” If the new Board members had worked in a collaborative manner, $100,000 (Reporter Herald newspaper) could have been used to hire personnel for hard-to-serve students, or, indeed, set up a reward system for exemplary teachers.
    f. I drove by the demonstrators on Taft and Carlisle on Wed., 5.21.15, in the late afternoon. Where are the pictures of the students, parents, teachers, and adults who were holding up “Respect our Teachers” homemade signs? Yet, this article only shows one picture of a “Union leader?” Shouldn’t an article show pictures of both … “sides?”
    g. I see no mention of the fact the teachers–specifically-did not ask for an increase in the base salary; offered to pay $1,000 for incidental (my term) use of the District’s facilities (to address Mr. Carlson’s concern over use of the District’s email), and other concessions? Yes, they asked for full health premium payments for a single person, and other benefits. “Bad Union contract” is, in my opinion, just inflammatory vocabulary, designed to arouse an ill-infomed population; or, people who want to believe, for whatever reason, that teachers are trying their best, using best practices, to educate students, who come from unbelievable situations. But, more importantly, this is inaccurate “reporting.”
    h. Where is the acknowledgement by Ms. Peif, that the voting on the “bad union contract” took place during a special meeting (technical meaning)? A special meeting, legally called by the Board President, does NOT allow for public input. If the four Board members are truly representing the electorate, shouldn’t the citizenry be allowed to speak, both pro and con?
    i. Ms. Peif does not point out the fact, nor the distinction, that there were two separate meetings.

    In my opinion, this “article” is not reporting. It is a slanted article that is inaccurate. I do acknowledge the outbursts, but on both sides, as pointed out by the Reporter Herald reporter Pamela Johnson (that Ms. Peif cites) It was very emotional to lose something in a can’t win situation.
    In the future, please assign a reporter who actually reports; presents the full picture. Thank you for your time.

  2. Eddie on 26 May 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    Sir, thank you for sharing your thorough opinion. I missed a few opportunities over the holiday weekend to chew on some hot dogs and hamburgers as I tried to chew my way through your comment. For the record, I am not “Ms. Peif,” and this is not an article but an opinion-oriented blog piece. Nor could I find where she or I said “bad union contract.” Have a good day.

  3. Steve Howard on 01 Jun 2015 at 2:15 am #

    Dear Sir: 1. You are correct; the headline (above, in “Ed is Watching”) reads “bad contract,” not “bad union contract.”

    2. I did not realize, I was not responding to Ms. Peif. Who are you? I willingly give/gave my name, Steve Howard. I also disclosed I used to teach in the Thompson District.
    For transparency, who are you? Thank you.

  4. Eddie on 02 Jun 2015 at 11:29 am #


    I make no effort to hide my identities. Yes, plural. You are welcome to read about my alter egos on the site’s “About Eddie” page, which is linked at the top of the site. You will note that this information is publicly available and fully transparent.

    Thanks for engaging. Hopefully I (we?) will see you again soon.

  5. Ed is Watching » Union Interns Unionize Against Union on 05 Jun 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    [...] The new intern union, which is apparently the “first non-medical intern union” in the country, will be negotiating wages, hours, and benefits with AFT this month. One can’t help but wonder how AFT will conduct itself on the other side of the negotiating table. But hey, maybe a little role reversal will offer a new perspective on exactly how it feels to be a school board on the receiving end of union tactics. [...]

  6. Ed is Watching » Exodus or Exaggeration? A Look at Colorado’s Teacher Turnover Rates on 10 Jun 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    [...] The numbers also include charter school teachers. That matters because, thanks to charters’ independence under Colorado law, many of these teachers are not directly affected by some of the “scariest” reforms cited by reform opponents as causes for the supposed mass exodus—including pushes for lighter, more sensible collective bargaining contracts. [...]

  7. Ed is Watching » ESEA Reauthorization Grinds Forward in Congress on 14 Jul 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    [...] those distracted by summer weather and local education fights like the ones in Jefferson County and Thompson, Congress has been hard at work trying to finally reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary [...]

  8. Ed is Watching » A Tale of Two Standards? Who Can Reject a Proposed Union Contract? on 28 Jul 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    [...] Remember that? It was only a couple months ago that status quo forces teamed up to try to shove a contract through, one that addressed very few if any of the Board majority’s concerns. The result? The Board accepted the dare, voting down the contract on May 20. [...]

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