Friday, October 2, 2015

School Politics in 2015

K-12 school politics in Colorado is largely a fight between the teachers union and right and left reform interests, each of whom have a different set of allies, but some similarity in goals. The conservatives that control the Douglas and Jefferson school boards pursue charter schools as do the liberals who control the Denver schools. And both suburban and urban reformers are opposed by the unions. But, there are stark differences.

Denver’s reformers don’t directly confront the union’s right to bargain, don’t meddle with social science or humanities curriculum and don’t advocate for vouchers. But in Douglas County, conservatives have decertified the union and institute voucher program, although it’s currently in a court challenge. Conservatives in Jefferson County have opened up union negotiations to the public, added teacher evaluations to pay, and tried to advise on history curriculum. The union and progressive activists have not been able to defeat the Douglas County Board except in court, but they have successfully mounted a recall against the three-person Jefferson County conservative majority that will be voted on in November.

In general, Colorado teachers union has been on the political defense from the right and the left for more than a decade. They are still formable, but in the Denver metro area, they have lost significant ground.

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