Thousands of teachers in multiple U.S. states recently went on a strike to demand higher pay and increased school funding. With the West Virginia teachers' triumph, the movement spread to other states, putting the pressure on state lawmakers to meet their demands.
However, it seems lawmakers in Colorado want to take preliminary measures that would shut down a potential teachers strike in the state.
As Colorado teachers prepare to walk out on April 27, the state’s lawmakers have proposed a bill in the Senate that not only prohibits districts from supporting a teachers’ strike but also requires schools to fine teachers for each day they participate in a walkout.
“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,” the bill states. “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 six months in county jail, or both.”
The bill also give schools enough authority to terminate teachers in case they don’t comply with the sentence.
Such stringent conditions of the bill were put in place by the two Republican lawmakers– Sen. Bob Gardner (R) and state Rep. Paul Lundeen (R).
Moreover, the bill has come at a time when several Colorado school districts are set to be closed towards the end of the week due to the upcoming strike. The closings impact more than 200 schools, which indicate the lawmakers ‘primary goal is damage-control instead of addressing fundamental issues – like inadequate salaries of educators or flimsy school budgets.
It is important to mention Colorado ranks pretty low in terms of teachers’ wages with an annual salary of about $46,000.
Moreover, the state also spends a meager amount of about $2,500 less per student each year than the national average.
Regardless of the threats, the Colorado Education Association is supporting the teacher walkout.
However, under the Senate bill that was proposed last week, the organization would also be punished in an event of a strike. If any organization, be it a union or a professional association, violated the court’s order, it could face a fine of up to $10,000 a day along with a ban on representing teachers in the state for up to a year.
But until and unless the Democrats get on board with Republicans, the chances of the bill getting passed are very thin.
The Republican lawmakers’ proposal is a blatant disregard of free speech and peaceful protest.
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