The Colorado Springs Gazette editorialists bring our attention to a new alternative professional organization for teachers in Colorado: the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (PACE). PACE offers liability insurance, legal coverage, and professional development opportunities without the political baggage:
PACE will not give union dues to political candidates, nor involve itself in political causes, which will come as a relief, weâ€™re sure, to teachers whose politics differ from those of unions that purport to represent them. Remaining apolitical allows PACE to keep membership dues low, at just $15 a month.
PACE dues come to about a quarter of the typical Colorado Education Association dues (amounts vary from local to local, but $60 a month is fairly typical). PACE’s focus is also a bit different than the traditional union focus:
Finally, but critically, PACE recognizes that most teachers are as eager for their studentsâ€™ success as they are for their own. â€œIt is the teacher in the classroom that makes the difference in a childâ€™s education,â€ added [executive director Dr. Kris] Enright. â€œPACE seeks to make a difference in Colorado by helping educators become better professionals so that they are better able serve their students.â€ For traditional unions, the classroom and the students seem afterthoughts.
Old-style unions will continue to have a following among rank-and-file educators who approve of their partisan activities and worry more about job security than building a 21stcentury school system. But most American teachers, like most American workers, now realize theyâ€™re more a hindrance than a help.
In most cases, CEA officials don’t want competition – it’s not good for business. Many local bargaining contracts give their organization exclusive access to teacher mailboxes, emails, bulletin boards, or meetings. But in many other districts, PACE will get a chance to compete on more level turf. I wish Kris Enright and his new organization success. Enright has a wealth and diversity of education experience, including public school classroom teacher, public school principal, higher education researcher, and cyberschool director.
Of course, success for PACE is bad for business for those (mostly Democrat) politicians who make a living off automatically deducted political contributions. But most Coloradans want to see a greater emphasis on teacher professionalism and student achievement.