Collective Bargaining and Academic Issues

May 2002

In California, teachers unions are fighting to add such academic issues as textbook selection and developing local academic standards added to the scope of their collective bargaining agreements. Their bill, AB2160 has just received backing from the Public Employees Committee of the Assembly and has been referred to the Education Committee.

Advocates see this bill as a way to ensure that teachers are treated as professionals and are not overlooked in the decision-making process regarding curriculum and standards. Opponents, including California’s Democratic Governor and the California School Boards Association, say this bill would take decision-making authority from elected officials and turn it over to union negotiators.

Since the bill’s sponsor is already offering compromise, this may be more of a consciousness-raising effort than a serious attempt to alter the decision-making process. Though it is not likely to be enacted, the bill should serve as a valuable reminder that including all the stakeholders in decision-making is a key ingredient to cultivating common ground.

The best school districts include teachers and parents as full partners in the education process. Representatives from these groups should always be sought out, listened to, and their opinions respected in the ongoing task of finding the best way to educate all of our children. Those who fail to do so will find that controversy and power posturing by disenfranchised groups will unnecessarily waste valuable time and resources.

Wayne Jacobsen, President


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