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Briefs: Anti-union ads in Dougco, talk to TBD

Another player has entered the long-simmering union debate in Douglas County.

Last week, after American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten visited Denver and publicly criticized the Dougco district’s split with its union, a Washington, D.C.-based group that describes itself as a “union watchdog” began airing ads critical of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers.

The group, the Center for Union Facts, issued a press release stating the TV and radio ads depict the district as having “some of the best schools in Colorado” but say the DCFT is “fighting to block the school board’s education reform proposals.”

“They are running at least for the next few weeks,” said J. Justin Wilson, the center’s managing director. Then, “We’ll stop and appraise the situation and determine where to go from there.”

The press release directs readers to a sample of the commercial on www.IStandWithDougcoKids.com, an effort which began as a campaign of Parent Led Reform, though Wilson said the latter group has no role in the advertising campaign. The link actually goes to a page titled “Douglas Co. Teachers Union Exposed,” which includes the commercial.

“What we do is we look and try to see where we think unions are overstepping and where there’s a degree of misinformation,” Wilson said. “We’re about setting the facts straight.”

The center has been involved in similar efforts in Montana, Newark, Washington D.C. and Wyoming. Wilson said the Dougco campaign has “some local funders” but they’re not receiving any help – financial or otherwise – from the school district.

→ You can weigh in on what you think Colorado should be doing about early childhood education and how to pay for it in a new online survey sponsored by TBD Colorado, the non-profit group that’s been gathering citizen opinions on the policy challenges facing the state.

The survey, available here through Facebook, asks about half a dozen questions, includes a short slide show about early childhood education and lets you see summaries of how other respondents answered the questions.

TBD Colorado, launched by Gov. John Hickenlooper but being run by a non-government group, is a bottom-up effort to inform and get feedback from citizens across the state about key issues, specifically education, transportation, health care, the state workforce and the state budget.

The group held numerous public meetings around the state but is continuing to gather opinions through other means, such as the Facebook poll. TBA Colorado will give a written report to Hickenlooper and the legislature later this year.

Education issues, particularly early childhood, have been a major topic of discussion during the TBD Colorado process. See this EdNews’ story for more details and background.

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