Gazette: Colorado Teachers Need to Know Their Choices

In order for me to live up to my “anti-public education” billing from the teachers union, I wanted to bring your attention to a stunningly clear and beautiful editorial today from the Colorado Springs Gazette. Key excerpts follow:

Throughout the country, most teachers belong to a chapter of the National Education Association. The Colorado branch is known as the Colorado Education Association, which is broken down by local chapters. Dues exceed $600 a year, which can be tough for teachers supporting families on wages that average $40-some thousand a year.

In some school districts, such as D-11 in Colorado Springs, the union assumes membership and takes dues from a teacher’s wages unless the educator jumps through hoops to opt out during a short window of opportunity. The union has never succeeded at getting teachers the wages they deserve, and it typically works against efforts to reward excellence with above-average pay. The only tangible benefit most teachers see for their membership fee is liability insurance to cover lawsuits….

In addition to maintaining educational mediocrity, the NEA and its affiliates have used the hard-earned money of teachers to fund a variety of endeavors unrelated to education. A report by the U.S. Department of Labor showed the NEA funding Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, People for the American Way, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, among an array of other noneducationrelated causes.

While thousands of teachers struggle to make ends meet, more than half the NEA’s 600-plus employees and officers earn salaries of six figures and up — wages paid by teachers who typically earn far less than half that much for more important work….

Colorado teachers have been choosing the Association of American Educators over the union in such numbers that the organization opened its own Colorado chapter last year, known as PACE — the Professional Association of Colorado Educators (www.coloradoteachers.org). Still, few teachers know about it. That’s because local NEA chapters have worked hard to prevent PACE representatives from distributing literature in schools or setting up tables at teacher orientation functions and benefit fairs. At one school in the Harrison School District of Colorado Springs, CEA representatives physically blocked a hallway to prevent teachers from reaching the PACE table.

The NEA is yesterday’s union, with no place in the cuttingedge classroom. To usher in a new era, introduce teachers to the Association of American Educators and its local branch, PACE — a non-coercive association designed around modern educational needs. Young minds are too important for an outdated union to waste.

Teachers in Colorado indeed have a real membership option now. As the editorial highlights well, it’s not in the interests of CEA/NEA to have teachers fully informed and fully empowered. For example, they don’t like it when teachers visit this website. Here is a plea to open up the teacher organization marketplace, to stop limiting the flow of information and access, so individual professional teachers can see their alternatives and decide what suits them best.

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