To Sen. Bob Gardner: I am writing in response to your legislation that would impose fines and other punitive actions against public school teachers who are protesting for better pay. [Gardner has since pulled Senate Bill 264.]
I am a parent, not of a child who attends public school, but of a Colorado teacher. My daughter is an educated, dedicated teacher who devotes all of her heart and hours upon hours of her time to the students entrusted to her care. She earns $41,000 a year.
Out of this salary she buys school supplies and books for her children because there isn't enough funding to cover the shortages of these items in her classroom. During the weeks of annual standardized testing, she and her fellow teachers provide food for their students because many of them come to school without having had a good breakfast, making it nearly impossible for them to handle the rigors of testing. She works long days and weekends grading papers, preparing lessons and corresponding with parents and caregivers.
For $41,000 a year she teaches, encourages and cheers on her students. She's not just teaching them how to spell and read and do math. She's teaching them life skills... to believe in themselves... to live in respect and peace with their fellow students.
Tell me, Mr. Gardner, would you be able to provide for your family on this salary in the state of Colorado? How does someone pay for housing, transportation, insurance, groceries and the other needs of life on $41,000 a year? And offering teachers a 2 percent raise is laughable. After taxes, this would add about $25 to her bi-monthly check. That's not enough to fill up her gas tank.
My request to you, sir, is that instead of criminalizing the cries for help that are coming from our state's educators, you spend your energies finding a solution to this problem. Outside of parenting itself, there isn't a more important occupation than that of educator. I'm appalled that your response has been threatening and punitive rather than hearing their pleas and working to better their pay, the educational systems of our state, and the lives of our children.
Please, Sen. Gardner, do what's right.
— Paula M. Ladefoged, Colorado Springs
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