Thousands of teachers converge on Colorado capitol

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 18:59:07-04

Thousands of teachers from across Colorado spent the day at the state capitol Friday, working to draw the attention of lawmakers.

Chanting "Not enough! Not enough!" teachers converged on the steps of the capitol demanding more dollars for their classrooms, better PERA funding for their retirements, and higher wages.

"Enough is enough, and this state has underfunded us for so many years that we simply just have to say that we can do better by our students," Phyllis Robinette, a 2nd grade teacher and President of the Pikes Peak Education Association said.

Several districts were forced to cancel classes for students on Friday. Although Colorado has one of the top economies in the country, its schools are underfunded by $822 million, according to the Denver Classroom Teacher’s Association. This group also says that Colorado invests about $2,700 less per pupil than the national average.

Today, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he will help push for the state to pay back about $1 billion borrowed from education during the recession. The governor spoke for less than five minutes to the crowd and didn’t offer any more funding than has already been proposed for next year.

"In my 32 years I never, never would have seen this coming and I guess when I started my career, I never knew that all of the sudden I would have to defend public education and the right that our students have," Robinette said.

The group had mixed reactions to Hickenlooper’s remarks, with some teachers shouting over him, "We want more," while other applauded him. State lawmakers have already closed the budget for this session, leaving it unclear what action can be taken.

"I never imagined myself being here or taking a day off of work to be able to fight for our students but this is what it’s come to and it’s time for our legislators especially our people that represent us on the northern side of Colorado Springs to treat us like professionals and to treat us and to treat our students like they’re the number one priority," said Discovery Canyon High School teacher Jeremy Beckman.

During the march, teachers cited the Gallagher Amendment and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights as reasons that education funding falls short. The protest didn’t just allow teachers and many students of different ages could be seen in the crowd.