OPINION: CEA President Kerrie Dallman on 2017 Election
By Kerrie Dallman
In communities across Colorado, voters affirmed their commitment to public schools and their unwavering support for our students. Pro-public education candidates were elected who will put student success first and will create the collaborative partnership that educators want with their administrators and elected school officials. Mill levy and bond measures were passed, ensuring some students will get relief in the future despite the state’s inability to properly fund our schools.
We are thankful for individuals and communities who stood for students and public education in this election, but the fight is far from over. The Colorado Education Association (CEA) remains committed to addressing the growing teacher shortage crisis, advocating for more public school funding to better serve our students, and creating a stronger PERA retirement system for school employees, but the work is far from over.
On Mill Levies: Tonight reminded us that school funding in Colorado is still divided between “the haves and the have-nots”. Communities are continually forced to ask voters to make up a shortfall in state school funding, perpetuating a system of choosing winners and losers at the ballot box. While some communities can pass a school funding measure, many districts can’t and too many students are losing opportunities. We need a statewide funding solution to fix this disparity and give great education opportunities to every student in every ZIP code.
On School Boards: Those elected to local school boards have a responsibility to create the schools our students deserve. Our communities need school board members who will seek to understand the challenges faced by students, and will create the collaborative partnership that educators want with their administrators and elected school officials. We have much to accomplish together with our new Boards and we look forward to working with them to ensure student success across the state. We extend our greatest admiration and appreciation to the thousands of educators who gave their time and talents to participate in neighborhood walks, phone banks, and all other forms of support for these critical campaigns.
On Campaign Spending: Across Colorado, community-led local grassroots campaigns are pitted against out-of-state corporate influencers. We remain committed to being a strong voice for public education by providing resources to school board candidates who will fight for student success and give educators voice in school decisions. While out-of-state corporate interests played an outsized role in this election, individual educators voluntarily gave money directly from their own pockets to support candidates who support public education.
On Douglas County: Voters spoke out against misguided and ineffective reforms that aren’t helping our children, and have rejected attempts to divert public dollars to private schools. This is a great election result for all students in Colorado, preventing the spread of harmful voucher schemes.
Kerrie Dallman is President of the Colorado Education Association.