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Proposition 104 Offers Transparency, Accountability in Education

Colorado voters have a chance to get more involved with children’s education. Proposition 104 has stayed somewhat under the radar this election season as bills concerning personhood and gambling have dominated headlines; this legislation, however, is no less important. This initiative seeks to change a Colorado statute so that any meetings in school districts concerning collective bargaining agreements be required to be open to the public, thus affording citizens further transparency in the education of our children. Proposition 104 will allow us to hold school board officials more accountable for their decisions and encourage parents to take a more active role in their children’s education, at little to no cost.

This bill will go a long way towards bringing communities up to speed on local education, and will allow citizens to get a closer look at the decisions that most largely affect their children’s educations. Furthermore, this legislation will not tilt the balance of power between school board officials and parents, as some fear.

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Opponents of this proposition argue that 104 will reduce the power of school board officials in negotiations with teachers. According to the Colorado Legislature, the main contention with this legislation is that “Voters elect local school board members to determine what is best for the school district, and this measure removes the board’s freedom and flexibility to choose how to negotiate with employees.” This is not the case.

Proposition 104 will only require the meetings regarding collective bargaining to be available to the public; it does not give citizens the right to participate in these meetings. Granted, some collective bargaining meetings can be somewhat sensitive, but this measure will only grant citizens access to more information, not more power over decision-making.

It is valuable to note that several schools have instituted this policy on their volition with no backlash from inside or outside their institutions. In fact, local Poudre School District has left their collective bargaining meetings open to the Fort Collins public since 1992. This policy has allowed parents to become more aware of the processes involved with managing their children’s education. This transparency on the part the district has encouraged people around Fort Collins to get engaged with primary education, and has contributed to the development of the nationally-recognized education the district offers. Voting for Proposition 104 will help guarantee the access to education information that we enjoy for communities across Colorado.

How much access one should have to information is a debate that we can observe on multiple fronts, such as the efforts of Edwards Snowden generating the controversy surrounding the NSA. It can be difficult to determine the appropriate balance of power; but in this case, the answer is clear. Proposition 104 will mandate access to the information parents need to actively engage in their children’s futures, while respecting the power of elected school board officials. This legislation will give the public an opportunity to better understand the processes that affect primary education. Our community’s schools have seen success with this policy; why not help other Coloradoans get involved? Vote YES on Proposition 104.

Collegian Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter by @seanskenn.

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