CEA March On The Capitol
Colorado’s education funding is ranked from 39th to 47th across all states that vary by the measure of funding. On March 19, members of the Colorado Education Association (CEA) will march on Capitol Hill to fight for the wage of educators.
The Colorado Education Association is an organization of over 38,000 K-12 teachers and educators, the largest union in the state. They organize rallies, fight for passing beneficial laws for teachers and students, and deliver professional learning opportunities. On March 19, members and supporters of the union will rally at the Capitol with signs and voices to be heard. Lobbyists will speak to the Senators and House Representatives by asking them to address the education funding system and they do so by telling their own stories about school and past experiences.
This year’s mission is to secure a living wage for all educators, eliminate the budget stabilization factor by 2022, and pass an initiative for a statewide ballot measure in 2020 to fix the “broken” education funding system.
Jill Dean, a social studies teacher, who attends the delegate assembly every year, believes that strong public education is important to communities. “The big goal for Colorado is to have fully-funded education.”
In 2000, the state legislature passed Amendment 23 which guarantees a certain amount of money towards the education system, but since then the legislature has cut the funding to around $800 million.
“Because Colorado passed the taxpayer’s Bill of Rights or TABOR, I feel that in order to create a long term solution to our public school’s funding crises, we must ask the legislature to refer a measure to the ballot,” said Kerrie Dallman, former president of CEA.
Shawna Fritzler, president of Jefferson County Council PTA, believes that legislators need to address the issue of the state’s education funding system. “Education funding in Colorado is beyond pathetic. Since the great recession and because of funding mechanisms in Colorado, our schools are owed over $8 billion that’s been taken away from both students and education staff. Our state ranks #1 in youth suicide, #1 in youth vaping, and toward the bottom in educator pay.” Jefferson County also loses many teachers to Boulder County schools and other districts in Colorado.
In April of 2018, around 10,000 teachers participated and supported the union at the capitol, and many signed off on the initiative that soon became Amendment 73. However, in November of 2018, the amendment failed to pass by voters. If passed, the Amendment would have given the system $1.6 billion but would have put more taxes on Coloradans.
This year, marchers want to figure out how the initiative they want to pass and the budget stabilization could work together since they currently oppose one another. After this march, the CEA hopes to become even closer to reaching its goal for fixing the education funding system.
“Taking collective action is one way to make your voice heard and demand change. I want all students to have the best education possible and I want them to have the best teachers, achieving both these goals means the state legislature and the people of Colorado need to invest in our students and their educators and in public education,” said Dallman.
In light of the recent pandemic, CEA canceled the protest. Schools have now closed doors due to the spread of COVID-19.