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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 11, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Colorado teachers plan walkout

Teachers in Colorado are planning a walkout April 26 and 27 in order to protest comparatively low national wages and low government spending per student.

Colorado teachers are some of the lowest-paid teachers in the country, ranking 46th for average teacher salary in the country in 2016. The state also spends about $2,500 less per student each year than the national average, according to data from the National Education Association.

The Colorado Education Association, the state teacher union responsible for organizing the walkouts, has called for educators to meet at Colorado’s State Capitol Building to call on legislators to support teachers and their interests.

Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, said in a statement posted on the CEA’s website that teachers must meet in the capital to show legislators that education is a priority.

“School districts and public school supporters end up begging for the leftover money at the end of every legislative session while our dedicated educators are forced to work second jobs and buy school supplies out of their own pockets,” Dallman said. “Our members are taking a stand at the Capitol next week to demand something better than the leftovers.”

State legislators in Colorado proposed a bill April 20 that prohibits school districts from supporting a teacher strike and would require districts to dock teachers’ pay for each day they participate in a strike. The bill states that teachers could also face jail time or daily fines of up to $500 for protesting and that any teachers found to be violating a court order prohibiting a strike could be fired without a hearing.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican, said he was unsure of how far the bill, which was proposed by Senate Republicans, would make it in Colorado’s Senate.

“I’m not sure it has 100 percent support in the Republican caucus,” Grantham said.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has supported teachers and funding for teachers in the past — namely, he has supported better retirement plans for public servants, including teachers — but he has not made a statement on the walkout or the proposed bill.

Both the bill and the proposed Colorado teacher walkout come after teacher strikes in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona and Kentucky. Some teachers in Colorado canceled classes  April 16 to walkout for better wages, but the upcoming rallies will be the first unified efforts across the state.

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at mmcelroy@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy