Beth Melton: Teachers deserve our support
Last week, as teachers from across the state marched on the Capitol, many school districts had to close. None of our three Routt County school districts were included in this list, but this does not mean our teachers aren’t facing many of the same indignities that teachers across the country are protesting — quickly disappearing pension benefits, high burnout rates caused by the pressure to produce unrealistic results and the inability to afford housing and childcare for their families, to name a few.
It is time to stand up for teachers and fight for education funding at the state and national level while doing what we can locally to support these public servants. We must hold our elected officials responsible for the dignity of educators and their families. Our teachers deserve to be treated as the professionals they are and given the resources to live and work in the communities they serve.
In Routt County, average teacher salaries range from $40,078 in South Routt to $54,064 in Steamboat, with Hayden at $51,325. Over the past few decades, Colorado has failed to adequately fund education, which means that coupled with rising healthcare costs and increased employer contributions required for PERA, which funds teachers’ pensions, even the best-intentioned superintendents and school boards are unable to provide teachers with wages commensurate with their cost of living.
Teachers, like many professionals in our community, struggle to make things work for their families. They work second or third jobs to make ends meet, scramble to find rentals when their leases end and agonize over where their new babies will go when they have to go back to work.
As an educator, I join teachers across the country in stepping up to advocate for our future — by engaging with our representatives, marching for causes that matter and running for office myself. As teachers, we work everyday to bring people together for a common goal; we are committed to a vision for the future; and we are acutely aware of how the decisions of elected officials can impact a community, positively or negatively.
I am optimistic about our future. The momentum for change is strong. Please, stand with teachers – both here in Routt County and across the country.
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