Hot Sheet

Did a teachers union out itself on Twitter?

Author: Dan Njegomir - November 10, 2017 - Updated: November 10, 2017


Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics buttonholed the state’s largest teachers union this week for a tweet after the election that appeared to confirm what its critics had been saying all along: the unions — rather than grass-roots parent groups — were the real prime mover behind the losses of education reformers in key school board races.

The tweet by the Colorado Education Association on Wednesday was in reply to a Colorado Public Radio tweet pointing out how, despite the high profile gains by union-supported candidates, “…most union-backed school board candidates…” lost in assorted races around the state.

Peak weighed in thusly on the a-HA! moment:

Union-led sweeps? Wait, we thought all of these races were led by “parents” and the “community.” How can that be? Is the CEA saying that parents and the community, in fact, did not lead liberal school board members to victory in Republican strongholds like Douglas and Mesa Counties and that it was a special interest group? Of course it was the union.

In Douglas County alone, the union contributed at least $315,000, and likely more, to an independent expenditure committee to elect liberal school board members, completely out of step with the values of the community they represent.

It’s an interesting point though it’s also worth considering whether the CEA as well as the Douglas County Federation and its national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, had dropped their guard even before Election Day — unlike in previous election cycles. Indeed, the AFT’s big cash dump on the Douglas County races had gotten plenty of press leading up to the election, as had union involvement in board races in other school districts this year. It seemed there was less of an effort overall to conceal the unions’ role, in contrast to their backstage approach during 2015’s Jefferson County school board recall election.

A shift in strategy? Might organized labor now reason it has less to lose and more to gain by openly flexing its muscle in the current, backlash-against-the-right political climate?

To Peak’s point about “union-led sweeps”: It almost sounds as if the CEA is bragging.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.