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More money into the system — or better pay for the best teachers?

The recent opinion piece from Colorado teacher Jill Cullis shed some light on the problems facing Colorado’s schools. Recent increases in funding, with the bulk of those dollars not going to teachers’ salaries, is the real problem. During Teacher Appreciation Week, we should highlight the fact that outstanding teachers are making the same salaries as mediocre or even underperforming teachers. In fact, based on outdated salary schedules used in most school districts, many underperforming teachers will make more than their “highly effective” counterparts.  This is an incredible disservice to Colorado educators and students.

Teachers are some of the most valuable professionals we have in public service and they should be treated as such. Higher starting salaries would help recruit better college graduates into the profession, and rewarding outstanding teachers with higher pay would keep them in the classroom. Until we’re willing to prioritize students and our highest-performing staff, putting more money into the system will not make a difference. Education spending should be an investment into Colorado’s future and into a system that prioritizes student outcomes above all else.

Lost in all of the budget protests, nobody has asked the question, “How do we replicate what is working?” The news coverage has focused on the inputs — how much money, what are the average salaries, etc.  Coloradans have been misled to believe that student outcomes will improve by merely changing these inputs, but the evidence doesn’t support that argument. Simply putting more money into the status quo won’t improve student outcomes and is unlikely to result in higher salaries for our best teachers.

Colorado taxpayers spend almost $300,000 per classroom, yet the average teacher salary is under $50,000 per year. Local school districts must find ways to prioritize teacher salaries within existing resources; our teachers and students deserve it.

Craig Hulse Vice president, Ready Colorado Denver

State Senate GOP caved in to the gun lobby on crucial bill

When the pundits write the book on the 2018 elections in Colorado, the death of House Bill 1436 — the Deputy Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act — will be remembered as a turning point.

The Colorado Sheriff’s Association, Colorado’s Chiefs of Police and a bipartisan group of district attorneys led by Republican DA George Brauchler joined an impressive coalition put together by state Reps. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Cole Wist, R-Centennial, in support of the bill. The measure also found broad support from survivors of gun violence as well as the mental health community. Other Republicans who publicly supported the legislation included U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Republican candidates for governor Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell.

Despite broad support from law enforcement and elected officials from both sides of the aisle, compelling pleas for action from fallen Deputy Zackari Parrish’s family, and public support for the measure above 80 percent, the Senate GOP kowtowed to the most extreme fringe of their party and killed the bill.

I believe the Senate GOP’s craven decision to side with RMGO over Colorado’s first responders, those who have experienced gun violence, and the people on the front lines of treating mental illness makes our state less safe. And I believe it will carry significant consequences for those who blocked progress on this challenging issue come this November.

In the aftermath of every recent mass shooting, the refrain from the gun lobby is that “we need to focus on mental health.” This was a golden opportunity for Republicans in the Colorado Senate to prove those words have meaning.

Without any action, it’s just a matter of when, not if, the next preventable tragedy takes place. Coloradans should remember who it was that lacked the political courage to protect the people of Colorado.

Ian SilveriiExecutive director, ProgressNow Colorado Lakewood

Tax credit for electric cars was a subsidy to the elite

Re: Colorado lawmakers should nurture the electric vehicle market, not punish it:

In his op-ed, Will Toor is unhappy that the Senate passed a bill to end Colorado’s wildly generous $5,000 taxpayer subsidy to electric vehicle (EV) buyers (an effort that ultimately died in the House).  Apparently, he considers this part of the “punishment” of the electric vehicle market.  As one who testified in favor of the bill in the legislature, I’d like to point out a few inconvenient truths about the EV subsidy scheme.

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) in its Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Readiness Plan shows the key target market for EV purchases in Colorado as, among other things, those earning more than $100,000 annually who already own two or more cars.  How simply asking that these folks buy their second or third car on their own dime is a form of punishment is a bit of a mystery.

Moreover, the vast majority of EV owners live along the Front Range, meaning that the state tax dollars of rural Coloradans are being redistributed to a small percentage of upper-income urban dwellers. To add insult to injury, their hard-earned federal tax dollars are also being redistributed upward to the same group in the form of an overly-generous $7,500 federal EV subsidy.

There’s certainly some punishment going on here, it’s just not to the electric vehicle market.

Mike Krause Director, public affairs Independence Institute Denver

‘Will the ravenous educational monster never be satisfied?’

Why are so-called school leaders solely focused on ever more money to be extracted from the taxpayers? Why do they seem to put their stamps of approval on current and future walkouts?Do they work for  the betterment of the students or their union allies?

Why wasn’t the almost one-half billion additional dollars that was sent their way by the legislature last week enough, seeing that not one of them mentioned how improvements in student achievement would benefit from that windfall?

Wouldn’t the additional $16 billion which they seek for capital construction equal 60 percent of the state’s annual budget? Why is there no concern for more efficient use of existing school operations in their mantra? Why is there no call for paying superior teachers extra for their outstanding accomplishments?

Why does Jeffco’s million-dollar superintendent still not have any mandate from his board to improve course content or raise student achievement levels?

Will the ravenous educational monster never be satisfied?

Russell W Haas Golden


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