Feature Photo By: Dominique Harlan – Science teacher Mr. Russell passes out sticky notes to his fifth period AP biology class. Russell stated, “For the last five years I lived in Tucson, Arizona. I lived in Denver before that, but this is my second time back.” Regardless of whether school was going to close on April 27th or not, Russell added that he, “had planned on supporting the protests.”
By: Dominique Harlan, Review Staff
On Thursday, April 26th and Friday, April 27th, thousands of Colorado teachers rallied at the State Capitol to protest in favor of more funding for schools, higher wages, and protection for retirement benefits.
An estimated 10,000 total educators rallied between the span of those two days, ultimately cancelling school for approximately 600,000 students.
The last recorded event in history when teachers across the state were encouraged to take their voices to the capitol was in the year 2000, when Amendment 23 was passed. The Amendment was a “…constitutional change passed in 2000 to reverse a decade of budget cuts experienced by Colorado school districts throughout the 1990s. During that decade, Colorado’s education spending did not keep pace with the inflation rate.”
Now, eighteen years later, students and teachers alike have taken a step back on the progress of educational funding. Eighteen whole years, and teachers are still beating down the door of the capitol, forcing state officials to listen.
Former U.S. Representative Solomon Ortiz once said, “Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.”
Being a teacher isn’t easy. It’s a difficult task to come to work and inspire students who may not even want to listen, to teach someone something they struggle to grasp. It’s a job that can cause overexertion on a day-to-day basis when you have a classroom of students who all present themselves with different attitudes and personalities.
It is hard. It is hard to stay true to yourself. It is hard to go home every day with a bag full of papers to grade, wondering if you made an impact on a life that day — hard to constantly question whether or not your students are benefitting, learning, growing.
Of course, I can’t pretend that I know the stress that comes with being a teacher, but I can only imagine and apply reasonable knowledge that my teachers have taught me to have.
This is why they deserve to be paid more, and feel security knowing that they can retire in peace without state officials continuing to decrease educational funding.
Right now, in the year 2018, a teacher’s value does not equate to their worth. They teach us the basics, like the history of the United States and how to apply the quadratic formula. They also teach us life lessons, like how to balance your school work and social life and manage stress.
They are so valuable, but are made to seem so disposable, like a second class citizen to the workforce. Underpaid. Overlooked. Overworked.
I have been exposed to new outlooks because of my teachers — outlooks and experiences I still use today, and will never take for granted.
To Ms. Mossop, my 5th grade teacher who instilled confidence in me through my own writing: I cannot thank you enough. To Mr. Tucker, my 6th grade science teacher who allowed me to explore a subject I had no interest in, peaking my overall curiosity and furthering my understanding: I go out of my way to explore and understand more in school now because of you. To my teachers I didn’t like (because they can’t all be people pleasers): you taught me to separate my personal feelings from my education.
I think of them and realize that it’s no wonder teachers are angry. Colorado teacher salaries rank last in the nation when it comes to providing a competitive wage. Teachers still pay out of pocket to provide for classroom needs (up to $670 on average per year at that).
To many, they are role models who had to step away from their jobs for a day to fight for the future of education in Colorado.
So from a student to my teachers, you have changed my life. You have impacted me and helped me grow. As much as I complain and groan about school this and school that, know that you have opened my eyes and helped me realize that a positive change is on the horizon — a well deserved one at that.
- For how you can take a stand, learn more about who your Coloradan senators and representatives are here.
- Contact Senator Michael Bennet.
- Contact Senator Cory Gardner.
- Contact Colorado’s 6th Congressional District Representative Mike Coffman.
- For further information on why teachers are protesting, watch the video below: