Both the bill and the proposed Colorado teacher walkout come after teacher strikes in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona and Kentucky. A state judge refused to order teachers back to work because they had gone through the required process with state regulators. There's a 180-day remediation - a cooling off period - as an example of the terms teachers have to abide by before going on strike.
A bill was recently introduced in the Colorado Senate that aims to prohibit public school teachers' ability to go on strike. That's a scaled-back version of the original bill that would OK teachers going to jail or getting fined for striking.
Gardner says the bill is not meant to prevent teachers from demonstrating. "It's probably most important the union that sponsors that strike be penalized", he said.
The group, joined by the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, say the minority and low-income students in the district are disproportionately affected by the poor management of the largest school district in the state. Across the state, students are missing out on class time and parents are scrambling to fill the gaps left by strikes and walkouts. "Our voters elect here in the community understand what students need to be successful in schools much better than a political appointee from Frankfort". I have fought for years to drive more money into the classroom and teacher paychecks.
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Democrats have been rallying around teachers in Colorado as they push at the legislature for increased school funding and pay. And Pueblo teachers voted to strike this month after the school board there voted down pay raises. More significantly, they would see their collective bargaining agreements rendered null and void and would be barred from representing teachers for a year or collecting dues during that time.
"I was raised with the idea that public education is the backbone of democracy", said Lisa Willner, a JCPS board member. "Now what we are seeing is a teachers' union that is pressuring teachers in school districts to converge on the Capitol". "Even right now, with our days of actions, our employee groups and associations have been working that the actions they are taking is consistent with the contracts". The moves affect over half of the approximately 910,000 students enrolled in Colorado schools.
As many as 10,000 people could show up for the rallies Thursday and Friday at the capitol building.