The Denver Post recently analyzed the cost of taxpayer subsidies to teacher unions
in the 20 largest districts in Colorado and found they added up to more
than $1M per year. In many places across the country, school districts
pay some or all of the salary and benefits of union presidents and other
functionaries who don’t teach for a single hour. The fact that the
practice is common doesn’t make it impossible to change, however:
Douglas County Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen,
who started in June 2010, said she cut the district’s payments to union
members nearly in half last spring and will end the extra spending
altogether in January.
“I’d rather not make comments on the past,” Celania-Fagen said.
“Going forward, my responsibility is to do what’s right for our students
in these economic circumstances and to be accountable for taxpayer
It’s difficult to make an argument that taxpayers should be directly
subsidizing union leaders. Organized labor already extracts indirect
subsidies by skimming dues from teachers’ paychecks, sometimes against
the desires of teachers. Kudos to the Post for shining some
light on this. Hopefully the districts they found that don’t track these
costs at all will start paying attention in light of the story.