Chants of frustration and signs filled the steps of the capitol building as teachers, students and parents came together for the statewide teachers rally Friday.
“We have shortchanged Colorado students for so many years and they deserve better than what we are giving them,” Rampart High School teacher Avalon Manly said.
The teachers’ rally in Colorado was one of many in a nationwide callout for better funding. Teachers from all across the board told FOX21 they can no longer afford supplying their classrooms, and are tired of classes getting cut.
“We have had to cut art, we’ve had to cut music, and we’ve had to cut P.E.,” Cache La Poudre Elementary School teacher Pamela Sky said.
“I have to spend my own money because the school doesn’t have funding for my classrooms, so that’s coming out of my own pocket,” Harrison High School teacher Luis Antezana said.
However, they are not alone, as students say the lack of money in classrooms also affects them.
“We need to make teachers happy because if they’re not happy then they won’t teach, and if they don’t teach we won’t get an education,” Cory Elementary School student Malin Wolfson said.
Top politicians, including Senator Michael Bennet and Governor John Hickenlooper, came out in support of the walkouts.
“Over the past two years we’ve increased K-12 education by 9 percent,” Hickenlooper said. “Now I know that’s not enough. I share your frustration.”
These rallies are now prompting questions about why the state’s booming legal marijuana sales have not fixed the problems.
The 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment got a boost from a commitment to send millions of dollars to Colorado schools. But those taxes are just a small share of the multibillion-dollar education budget. Last year, for example, marijuana taxes sent to the Colorado Department of Education totaled $90.3 million, while the state budget included a total of $5.6 billion for K-12 education.
There’s no word yet if teachers will come back to Denver in the coming days.