Just like Ron Burgundy, the election last Tuesday was kind of a big deal. There were some deficient observations like Tom Brokaw opining, “a lot of this has to do with the fact that he [Obama] gets hammered 24/7 by Fox News on the right and by talk radio…”, as though Fox wasn’t around 2 years ago when Republicans were on the losing side. As though there aren’t major networks in support of Barack Obama. And as though talk radio has the reach of television news.
Side Bar- Isn’t it fascinating, yet wholly predictable, how these “objective” news anchors like Tom Brokaw and Walter Cronkite come out as committed liberals after they retire. Makes you think, “But that would mean…the WHOLE TIME!”
The unabashed truth is that the Democratic Party received a shellacking due to a repudiation of the policies of both the party itself and an overreaching Obama administration. The tales of a Republican war on women, war on minorities and the demonic pervasiveness of Fox News had grown tired. When the Democrats were asked “What else you got? Economic success, foreign policy?” the awkward answer was…umm… and then a blurted response, in suave Burgundy fashion, “I wanna be on you, I wanna be on you” . Ironically, it was a good night for Hope and Change and an opportunity to engage in some good ole’ fashioned schadenfreude. Now, if only Republicans, these Republicans, can govern…
Now that much has been said and re-said about this election, I will leave the national stage to look at the local success that was Proposition 104 in Colorado. I would like to raise a metaphorical glass to the unsung heroes of this election and the work they did to affect change in our society. We who value freedom and wish for more limited government are indebted to John Caldera and the Independence Institute for their work and financial support in getting this proposition on the ballot and passed.
Proposition 104 asked the voters, “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?” And in the wisdom that so often accompanies corrective elections, the voters said Yes, with over 70% in favor!
It has been a couple years since Douglas County, CO elected a conservative majority on the school board and did away with the teachers union entirely. The recent hubbub in Jefferson County relating to the changes of a new school board reflects another positive transformation in public education. Proposition 104 is one more huge step towards ending the dominance of the teachers union and restructuring an educational system that will truly benefit the kids, along with the rest of us.
Ask any voter, look at any poll and you will find that people of all stripes value a good education. Providing children with the opportunity to succeed is a path to parental pride and national prosperity. Politicians have thrown money at the problem and found little improvement. Public schools mandate that children attend specific institutions, regardless of the ability of a specific school to offer a path to success, and kids still struggle to compete with their global counterparts. In short, the manner in which we have been operating does not work. The passage of Proposition 104 is exactly the kind of common sense action that can ameliorate the condition of public education.
Proposition 104 in the most basic sense, is oversight of the government by the people. This change will allow the public to monitor the negotiations of collective bargaining agreements up close. Everyone can hear the astonishing specifics regarding compensation, regardless of performance, and benefits that are currently an unfunded liability to the taxpayer. I believe that the public forum will lead the taxpayers to discover what so many workers already have: that unions, especially public sector unions, are a self-serving burden and that teachers (along with all other employees) are better off without these groups.
Unions are already a dwindling group, but still cling to the public sector. According to Pew Research, “only 11.3% of wage and salary workers belonged to unions, down from 20.1% in 1983”. This percentage drops even further when comparing the public and private sectors. “While the unionization rate among public-sector workers has held fairly steady over that 30-year span (just over a third of government workers are unionized), it’s plummeted in the private sector — from 16.8% in 1983 to 6.7% three decades later”.
The reasons for the initial rise, and the relatively recent decline, of unions varies and the benefits can be debated all day long. However, the fact is, that when it comes to education, the teachers unions have a monopoly on public education that is failing the children in the United States. Parents cannot choose where their children will learn without paying more money than they already do in taxes. Tenured teachers rest easy with little fear of job loss regardless of any personal promiscuous proclivities or failing performance on-the-job. (Links to: the corruption and rubber rooms in Los Angeles or the rubber rooms in New York City) If parents like the schools their children attend, that’s wonderful and no change need be made. But if the schools cannot offer a proper education, parents ought to be able to take their child and their money elsewhere. That’s fair, that’s freedom and that’s what the unions fear most.
Disregard the hype and know that public sector unions do not serve the public, the kids or the teachers. They live a parasitic existence, leeching off of the taxpayer. They ought to be outlawed and now that the public can observe their ludicrous business dealings, that idea is closer to reality.
As a final thought: Unions ostensibly serve to protect workers from aggressive employers; so if the teachers work for a government, tasked to protect us all, why do they need specific job protection? Proposition 104, the only state-wide initiative to pass, is a success for the people of Colorado and a further sign to the nation of things to come.