July 4, 2014 - 11:01 pm
If it wasn’t already obvious that Clark County School District officials want teachers to remain in their union, it is now.
Local teachers can opt out of membership in the Clark County Education Association for just two weeks each year. The window for withdrawal runs from July 1 to July 15, when teachers are on summer break and most likely to have travel plans. That educators have so little freedom to exit an organization that takes hundreds of dollars in dues from their paychecks is not a coincidence. That CCEA executives collect huge salaries from those dues is not a coincidence, either.
The Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank, runs an annual information campaign to educate educators on how to opt out of the union. The campaigns have prompted more than 1,000 teachers to do just that — many of them weren’t even aware they could exit the union — and effectively give themselves a raise.
The school district clearly has a problem with this message. First, it refused to provide NPRI with teachers’ taxpayer-funded email addresses. That action compelled NPRI to file a public records lawsuit against the school district, which the district won in one of the worst-reasoned legal decisions in recent state history. Eventually, NPRI’s appeal will prevail at the Nevada Supreme Court.
NPRI nonetheless was able to obtain the email addresses of about 12,000 teachers through other means (most of the addresses are made available to school websites.) Teachers can choose whether to open, ignore or delete the messages — as they do with other emails sent to them.
But this year, the school district resorted to a new, extreme measure to prevent teachers from learning how to dump their union. The school district blocked the messages so they wouldn’t land in teacher accounts.
“It is outrageous that a government agency would censor communications between teachers and a private group. It also raises First Amendment concerns, because the Clark County Education Association, another private organization, is able to email teachers,” NPRI President Andy Matthews said in a statement. “It’s wrong for a government agency to use taxpayer dollars to pick and choose who communicates with government employees. Communication with a government employee shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for those approved by a government agency.”
Exactly. The school district is vulnerable to another court action.
Considering the district’s administration must bargain with the CCEA, and the administration is supposed to look out for the public’s interest instead of the union’s, why is it actively working to preserve the union’s negotiating power? The school district needs to stop playing favorites here and allow NPRI the opportunity to communicate with teachers.
What’s the district afraid of? Teachers having more spending money?