The teacher walkout movement has made it to Colorado — but it’s not about teacher salaries like you may have thought.
The Colorado Education Association (CEA) is holding a Day of Action at the Colorado state capitol on Monday, April 16, and teachers across the state are expected to rally for education funding.
In fact, so many teachers in Englewood Schools are planning to participate that the district made the decision to cancel school on Monday as a result. More than 150 licensed staff from Englewood will not be reporting to work, which amounts to over 70 percent of the district’s workforce.
“Our dedicated Englewood teachers care about your kids more than anything,” a statement from CEA said. “They are frustrated and fed up with students not having the resources they deserve. Kids don’t have a voice, that’s why teachers are joining a statewide action at the Capitol to stand up for our kids on Monday, April 16. We know this will be inconvenient on Monday, but we hope you understand that teachers are doing this out of love for your kids.”
The CEA Day of Action will include a rally at the capitol building from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a House Finance Committee hearing on Senate Bill 200 (the PERA bill), at 1:30 p.m. Educators and other supporters are encouraged to “Wear Red for Public Ed.”
According to CEA, Colorado legislators are failing our state’s educators and students by offering tax incentives to large corporations, which cuts into the state revenue that our floundering public schools could be benefiting from. Through the rally on Monday, the educators are appealing the legislature to invest any of the expected positive state revenue from this legislative session into Colorado’s education system.
A recent CEA survey showed that, on average, Colorado teachers spend over $600 of their own money each year in order to sustain their classroom functions.
“We have an educator shortage in Colorado and legislators are uniquely positioned to do something about it, primarily through passing policies that support and value educators and our students,” the CEA states on its website. “…Many officials pay lip service to respecting and valuing educators and students while their actions align with billionaires and corporate special interests …”
Also of concern is Senate Bill 200, which would mandate that all teachers increase their contribution to PERA (Public Employees’ Retirement Association) by three percent of their salary, by 2020. That would mean a total of 11 percent of a teacher’s paychecks would be contributed to PERA each month. The bill was produced by the Senate and will be discussed in Monday’s House Finance Committee meeting.
For more information on the CEA Day of Action and other initiatives Colorado educators are taking, check out their webpage.
Colorado schools have been in the news quite a bit, recently. Earlier this month, the Brighton-based School District 27J announced that it will now implement a four-day school week instead of the typical five-day week, beginning in August. This was largely done to reduce costs and create “budget efficiencies that allow for the reallocation of resources.”
In addition, recognizing the need to supplement their teachers’ low salaries, Denver Public Schools has teamed up with a couple other organizations to form a housing down payment assistance program. Colorado teachers are largely underpaid, with educator salaries ranking 46th in the nation currently.
What do you think about the teacher rally? Would you support additional walkouts by teachers across the state? Do you feel like education is undervalued by our state legislature? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below!