Particularly moving were the panel of education perspectives from Colorado students, and Superintendent of Bethune School District, Shila Adolph’s speech about the needs in rural school districts. At the student panel, recent high school or college graduates spoke about their varying education experiences in K-12 education in Colorado. The students eloquently called for better teacher wages, higher overall respect for the teaching profession, and a stronger focus on addressing the lack of diversity in schools, often receiving rounds of applause throughout their speeches. Shila Adolph also inspired the audience with her stories about the lack of STEM resources in her school district of 105 students, and the difficulty of providing opportunities for those students who want to stay in their rural area after school, and providing incentives for teachers to work in rural areas.
The day closed with an announcement that organizations including Great Education Colorado will be working to put initiatives on the ballot this November 2016, one of which calls for the “debrucing” of TABOR funds. This means that voters will have the opportunity to vote to for the government to keep the excess amount of tax funds to use on transportation, education, and other state needs, rather than returning to the taxpayers as required under TABOR. An article from Colorado Public Radio estimates that an average of $35 would be returned to each taxpayer if the money were not kept for other needs. Organizations will need to gather 98,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, and these efforts are beginning now. Attendees at the conference spent the last hour of the day creating plans to carry petitions, host parties, and obtain signatures in order to make this happen. Stay tuned for more information from Great Ed about where and how you can sign a petition, or contact Great Ed if you are interested in a carrying a petition yourself and obtaining signatures.
For other opportunities to get involved, check out Great Ed’s “Advocates Corner.” Upcoming are opportunities to advocate at the state capitol for education and students across Colorado. Dates include:
Thursday March 17
Wednesday March 23
Tuesday April 5
Wednesday April 13
All from 9:30-11am.
Read more about the ballot initiative here at Colorado Public Radio.
Posted by Haley DiRenzo