School funding, pension concerns bring educators back to legislature

CEA Lobby Day at State Capitol, Monday, April 16

DENVER — Addressing the same issues of inadequate school funding and low educator pay voiced in Oklahoma and West Virginia, and damage to the public employee pension system in Kentucky, members of the Colorado Education Association will meet with their legislators on the priority of K-12 funding in the state budget during a session of increased revenue projections.

WHAT: CEA Lobby Day at State Capitol (morning)

PERA (SB200) hearing in House Finance Committee at 1:30 pm

WHEN: Monday, April 16, 2018, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Colorado State Capitol

More than 100 CEA members were in the Capitol Feb. 7, telling lawmakers about a survey of more than 2,200 CEA membersthat showed the average educator spent approximately $656 a year out of their own pockets for student needs. Many members presented invoices to the General Assembly for the past due amount.

Educators are now circulating a Statement of Support for the Schools Our Students Deserve. The statement highlights that in the last 15 years, educators in Colorado have had their pay cut by more than 17 percent when adjusting for inflation. The underfunding of public education has led to the growing crisis of a shortage of qualified teachers. Specifically, this year legislators must:

1. Restore and increase education funding (K-12 public schools are underfunded by $828 million in this current school year) and commit to a freeze on corporate tax breaks of all kinds until school funding is restored or until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

2. Fix SB 18-200 and commit to a secure retirement for educators and public employees. Colorado students’ success depends on a stable teaching profession with a defined-benefit retirement; SB 18-200 will further exacerbate the educator shortage by discouraging people from going into the education profession and discouraging veteran educators from staying for a full career.

“The positive state revenue forecast clearly demonstrates there is substantially more money available this year and therefore we can and must do a better job funding our public schools. Providing our students with the schools they deserve must be the top budget priority for lawmakers,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman.