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Reader: Don't silence the teachers

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I am a teacher. This Sunday evening, instead of grading essays, I am reflecting on SB18-264 in the Colorado Legislature that proposes felony charges, jail terms, massive fines, or both for public school teachers who "directly or indirectly induce, instigate, encourage, authorize, ratify, or participate in a strike against any public school employer." The prime sponsors of this legislation are Sen. Bob Gardner (bob.gardner.senate@state.co.us) and Rep. Paul Lundeen (paul.lundeen.house@state.co.us), both Republicans representing El Paso County.

This legislation — classist at best, fascist at worst — is designed to muzzle those people who know the most about the challenges of teaching in Colorado: the teacher shortage, the decades-long wave of violence in our schools, the challenges of the PERA pension system, the daily derision and the ignorant comments aimed at teachers.

Please use your most critical thinking to carefully comb over this proposed legislation. Solicit every opinion you can get from every stakeholder you can find. Make it a point to really listen to every perspective. If the Colorado Legislature shuts off Colorado public school teachers' voices, takes away their right to protest, and makes criminals out of them, our education system will be damaged, possibly beyond repair.

If you care to embrace the challenges of public education and serve the families of Colorado with integrity and tenacity, I welcome your partnership. But if you choose to accept this proposal without a fair examination of every possible consequence, then you have no business participating in the discussion. Consider your position on this issue carefully.

So, to make myself clear, before it is illegal for me to do so, thank you to Dr. [Nicholas] Gledich, for closing District 11 on Friday. Thank you fellow teachers. I support and encourage your choice to speak loudly and forcefully in defense of Colorado's present and future. Way to go!

— Jennifer Tarbox, D-11 teacher

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