Caldara: Open negotiations between school district and union expose intimidation tactics

The Denver Post: As I write this, the Denver teachers’ strike has just ended with a tentative agreement after a productive bargaining session that stretched into the morning hours.

Throughout the negotiations between Denver Public Schools officials and the teachers’ union, we were privy to the offers and counteroffers. In fact, The Denver Post editorial board opined that the union should accept the bonus structure the district wanted to attract teachers to schools in poor neighborhoods, and the district should accept the concession to fire 150 in administrative staff to make room for more teacher pay.

But how did The Post, or any of us, even know what was flying back and forth over the bargaining table? We knew because voters pried open the doors to these previously closed, smoky back rooms.

The most important policy a school board makes is its contract with the teachers’ union. The contract dictates the terms of how most of our children will be taught and how most of our tax money will be spent. In a way it is comparable to the state legislator’s fights over the “long-bill,” the budget bill. That battle plays out in Joint Budget Committee meetings and floor votes and it decides the priorities for the state government.

Of course, when the legislature negotiates the long-bill they do so in open sessions, in full view of the press and any citizen interested enough to watch in person or stream online.

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