While drama, turmoil and shameful behavior were writ large across Monday night’s Denver school board meeting, it wasn’t an isolated venue within the district.
What am I talking about? The response of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) to the Independence Institute’s annual informational mailing to teachers about Colorado Education Association members’ option to request a $39 refund of Every Member Option political funds (not to mention an additional $24 from DCTA) before December 15.
What’s wrong? DCTA does a very poor job of notifying teachers that the EMO refund opportunity exists. Look on their website. Look at the enrollment form new members fill out. Look at copies of the DCTA Slate magazine (if you can find a copy).
(Funny thing is DCTA makes CEA’s minimal notification look good by comparison — you can find a small notice in two issues of the CEA Journal and a description if you search the website, but their monthly “You & CEA Newsletter” email to members never mentions it at all.)
In light of this, yesterday, DCTA President Henry Roman widely sent out the following message:
Dear DCTA member,
BEWARE: You may have gotten a letter from the Independence Institute explaining how you can drop you Every Member Option (EMO) contribution to DCTA/CEA.
It reads like a public service telling you how to save money. But the motives behind the message are much more sinister.
The Independence Institute and the independent teacher organizations they support have a history of backing anti- public education and anti-union causes. They support vouchers and right to work, and just about any other initiative or candidate for office that promises to limit the growth of public education in Colorado. They correctly see DCTA/CEA as the strongest stumbling block to their cause so they want to limit our ability to be involved in school board races and the political process in general.
Thank you for your continued commitment to DCTA and our cause of improving conditions for teachers and the students they work with!
Please help us pass the word regarding the Independence Institute and their misinformation campaign!
Feel free to contact me for additional information — and I hope you have had a good Thanksgiving holiday!
Attacking the messenger is all well and good. (I get called sinister a lot, especially for a right-hander.) Making the issue about us rather than the political funds accomplishes some sort of purpose. But that misses the point.
Even when compelled to acknowledge the existence of the “Every Member Option”, DCTA officials can’t bother to explain to members what it is, or that separate refunds are available from CEA ($39) and DCTA ($24), or exactly how the money is used, or the deadline for teachers to get it back.
Instead, DCTA calls out the email for misinformation. You can argue subjectively about the validity of how the EMO money is collected or whether the EMO money is put to good use, but where’s the misinformation in the message we sent?
The Colorado Education Association’s $39 Every Member Option (EMO) paid by every member this year – mostly through payroll deduction – finances CEA’s support of political candidates, parties, and other campaigns. The $39 EMO refund is available before Monday, December 15. Many CEA local associations take out an additional EMO refund worth as much as $24, and have the same December 15 deadline (see below).
Watch a 2-minute video of a veteran Colorado public school teacher explaining the EMO, or listen to a 3-minute podcast with basic information and frequently asked EMO questions: http://www.independentteachers.org
To make an online EMO refund request to CEA, the form you can fill out is at: http://www.coloradoea.org/contactus/emoform.cfm
To make an EMO refund request to CEA by mail, the address, information required, and printable request form letters are available at:
CEA Local Associations
All members of the following CEA local associations also have an additional EMO deduction, with separate refunds available before Tuesday, December 15. The individual member’s EMO amount is included for each (follow the link after each for more information):
Jefferson County ($24) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Jeffco)
Denver ($24) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Denver)
Adams 12 ($24) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Adams12)
Pueblo 60 ($24) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Pueblo60)
Boulder Valley ($12) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Boulder)
St. Vrain ($10) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#StVrain)
Pueblo 70 (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Pueblo70)
Pikes Peak ($6) (http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#Pikes)
AFT Political Refund
AFT members can find information on political refund availability at: http://www.independentteachers.org/political-refunds/#AFT
IndependentTeachers.org also contains information on different teacher membership organizations, and other important resources.
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About Us: The Education Policy Center is the K-12 education research arm of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank located in the Denver metropolitan area.
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Colorado’s teachers unions — of which DCTA is one of the worst offenders on this front — at least ought to respect their professional teaching members enough to trust them with this information and to make their own independent decisions. Time and again, every year I hear back from teachers who weren’t even aware of the EMO, or who just appreciate the reminder and the right (albeit limited) to exercise their choice in the matter.
I don’t mind being bombarded with name-calling. But you can bet that union officials would take a much different approach if their members had to opt in to political contributions rather than opt out.
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