Denver Union Leaders Should Tout Past Successes

Is the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) a victim of its own salary-negotiating success? Why does the union that represents teachers in Denver Public Schools (DPS) not want to embrace how well it has done to increase compensation for its rank-and-file?

Because it’s time for DCTA to negotiate for even more money. As the Rocky Mountain News editors highlight today, the district’s teachers have not been shortchanged nearly as much as some have touted:

The district’s figures show a cumulative salary increase of more than 21 percent for teachers who will have worked for DPS for four years, from 2004-05 to 2007-08. To be blunt, that has come in part at the expense of other DPS unions (who have received 11.5 percent) and school principals and other administrators (8.4 percent).

Moreover, total teacher compensation has grown more than half again as fast as district revenues. Even the least financially sophisticated advocate has to recognize that as a recipe for long-term disaster.

But my question is this: What happened to the reform-minded DCTA that has worked so hard to help the district implement performance-based pay in ProComp? How hard are union officials pushing the rank-and-file to sign up for the innovative compensation system – which rewards teachers for taking on challenging assignments and raising student achievement?

I’m not going to defend all the actions of DPS administrators and bureaucrats, because they are far from perfect. But in this case, DCTA shouldn’t sell the students short of badly-needed reform. Nor should its leaders shy away from touting past successes.

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