I’ve been especially hard on the Denver teachers union (DCTA) lately, but when they do something (mostly) right it would be petty and disingenuous of me not to give credit where due. The Rocky Mountain News reports today that DCTA has decided to acquiesce to the requests of Bruce Randolph and Manual High School for autonomy from school district red-tape and negotiated work rules:
Bruce Randolph Principal Kristin Waters said she was “ecstatic. It’s great for kids, for the teachers, and I think it’s good for the union.”
The news came as the principals of 18 schools in far northeast Denver put the final touches on their own autonomy proposal, which they’ll present to DPS board members Tuesday. Any agreements also must be OK’d by the union governing board.
“We definitely want to begin this conversation,” said Montbello High School Principal Antwan Wilson, one of the 18 schools in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch that have been working together.
Waters and her staff made the first autonomy request in December, saying they needed waivers from some district policies and union rules to improve student achievement.
DPS board members said yes, but teachers union board members delayed a vote, then issued limited approval of some waivers.
That prompted the Bruce Randolph staff to consider other options, including conversion to a charter school. The delay also helped shape a bill that would have allowed schools to gain autonomy without union approval. [Link Added]
If I wanted, I could make the wild-eyed post hoc ergo propter hoc assertion that my op-ed published Monday brought the needed pressure to help ensure the compromise. But that would just be absurd.
In the interest of balance, it’s worth noting not only that future agreements still need DCTA’s board to sign off on them but also that the union refused to grant waivers that would have allowed for modification of employee grievance procedures. Combined with existing tenure laws, that will put some limits on the reform efforts at these newly autonomous Denver schools. But Bruce Randolph and Manual HS certainly are a lot better off now than before. And for that, my kudos to DCTA for being willing to back down in this case, for the best interest of students.
Kudos to the union? From “one of the most virulent anti-public education individuals in the state”? How strange….