Teachers are a necessary part of the public school system and education itself in America; it’s nearly certain that the system itself would not work without the teachers that run it. That is why it is so strange that on April 26, 2018, teachers in Douglas County went on strike for a day because they aren’t paid enough (and it’s true, they aren’t). So why did HR students get a day off, exactly?
To put it simply, the big issue for Douglas County is that teachers can’t afford to live near where they teach. For Colorado, according to PBS, schools have to pay a rate of 20% to the public pension fund- in other words, roughly 20% of a teacher’s paycheck is taken away for retirement- reducing their pay when they already face high inflation where they live.
The results of inflation have only further reduced the pay of teachers. According to PBS, the effects of continued inflation has resulted in a loss of eight percentage points in teacher’s buying power. This is despite a 21% raise in teacher salaries that has occured over the past 12 years, according to Fox 31 Denver.
This means teachers may have some trouble with the price of living in the areas they teach, and sometimes have to go great lengths to find an affordable place to live. One of my teachers has to drive from Golden and back every day to teach here.
This is all happening as pension systems for schools face major debt. According to Fox 31 in Denver, public pension systems face an overwhelming $1.4 trillion in debt, as per a Pew Charitable Trusts study. All of this has put the pressure on teachers as they struggle with pay.
However, pay is not the only issue raised by the movement: the #RedForEd platform also involves funding for public schools. Tristan Ropa, senior, a member of Falcons for Progress, voiced some of the concerns about funding some students have.
“Just last week, we had a ceiling tile, four ceiling tiles, in the span of two days, fall out of the ceiling in the choir hallway. We had to shut the water down to the whole hallway, because the water was brown. We have, I think, it’s the fifth wealthiest district in the country. So, what’s up? We have lights in our theater department right now that, if we touch them, they can burn our hands,” said Ropa. While Douglas Country ranks as the sixth richest county in the US, it is troubling to see these kinds of concerns over funding rise.
Overall, the walkout on April 26th should not go down as just being one day off for students. The teachers whose job it is to educate what is supposed to be the future of the country, and even the world, should not be worried about having to make ends meet, and a school’s work should not be held back by the amount of funding they get.
John Boughey, Staff Reporter