Stand up and walk out

Stand+up+and+walk+out

Dennae Pigford, Review Staff

Feature Photo By: Peter Vo, Review Staff- A substitute teacher sits and reads on her phone while the class works independently. It has been rumored that there will not be enough substitutes to cover the number of teachers scheduled to walk out in support of higher wages on Friday, April, 17th. 

As recorded in 2016, teachers in Colorado made an average of $46,155 annually; the percentage change from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2016-17 school year as far as teacher pay was -15% for Coloradan teachers.

In 2017, the teachers of Colorado are expected to receive a pay raise to a total of $46,506 annually. However, many teachers agree that this is just not enough.

Teachers are walking out for better pay, yes. But they are primarily striking to make sure the state sends more money to schools and does not cut retirement money, as the union as they have proposed. 

“I feel responsible for this community and to these kids whose parents have entrusted me to take care of them,” said art teacher Kyle Riggins regarding his choice to come to work regardless on Friday, April 27th. “I’m here because I feel a duty to be here. But that doesn’t take away from my co-workers feeling the need to do this; that’s equally dutiful.”

News has been going around, passed from teachers to students, that there is a high possibility that school for APS students will be canceled on April 27th. A few of the staff members have commented that the superintendent of APS schools has yet to officially cancel school for all ages with the belief that enough teachers will show up for the show to go on.

However, APS does have a no-strike policy, meaning that all teachers who choose to participate in the walkout by calling in sick, should routinely receive a docked pay. However, all of RHS staff was sent an email stating that there would be no consequences should they choose to participate.

“I know that APS has a no-strike policy, so it just makes me mad that teachers are going to get their pay docked for protesting to get a higher pay,“ comments junior Karly Trimble. “It upsets me that teachers struggle to make a living where they teach too.”

According to a bill proposed during the 2018 general session on April 20th by the Colorado General Assembly, “Public school employers are prohibited from consenting to or condoning a strike and from paying a public school teacher for any day during which the public school teacher participates in a strike. In the event of a strike or the imminent threat of a strike in violation of the bill, the public school employer is authorized to seek an injunction from the district court. Failure by a public school teacher or teacher organization to comply with the injunction constitutes contempt of court and may be punished with fines or up to 6 months in county jail, or both.”

This bill is sponsored by State Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner. The teachers union of APS, as well as Cherry Creek School District, Jefferson County School District, and Fort Collins School District, told all of their members that school would be cancelled if enough teachers called in sick to walk out. 

“I debated [calling out] because my first job is here with you guys… but I made my decision because I believe in the future of my career, a future here, and who is affected down the road,” stated math teacher Cheryl Wetzel. “I think what has concerned me the most is here we are, one of the richest states in the United States and yet we’re the low 40th in terms of teacher pay. I think people need to look at that and start to value education because who’s our future? It’s you guys. If you can’t get an education that’s decent, where is our future?”

It has yet to be stated whether or not APS schools will be closed on Friday, April 17th, but it is estimated by RHS teachers that roughly 75% of them will be calling out to walk out.