Teacher Walkouts: What do DHS teachers have to say?

Hannah Wills, Reporter

Across the United States, teacher walkouts are taking the nation by storm. Not only are teachers underpaid, but they aren’t given quality benefits, leading to major protests in the hopes that they will soon receive the rights they deserve.

The walkouts and protests are meant to encourage legislation that will increase education funding and salaries. Durango may also be on the verge of teacher dissatisfaction, possibly resulting in walkouts, in order to bring light to the issues that have constantly been ignored by the government, both local and federal.

Liz Dillman, a representative with Durango Education Association, shares the sentiment that increased funding is needed. She believes that there is hope in the future to be able to raise the salary of teachers.

“The community is really supportive in that sense [raising teacher pay] they passed ballot measure 3A a couple of years ago and some of that did go to increase our pay,” said Dillman.

The National Education Association placed Colorado at 46th for teacher pay as of 2016. In Colorado, a teacher at the beginning of their career makes 69% less than their fellow teachers with a similar education and work hours.

 Jeff Lowe, social studies teacher at DHS, explains that the salary of a teacher doesn’t affect quality of life, but does influence the choices they make. He also elaborated that his main goal is to make a difference.

“I can understand why a lot of people might find [living in Durango] financially challenging; it is not the cheapest place in the world to live,” said Lowe, “[But] some people are motivated by money and other people are more motivated by making a difference.”

Students have an opinion on their teachers and their pay as well. Some students believe that the salary of a teacher affects the quality of said teacher.  

So. Lola Thomas acknowledges the hardships that she believes teachers in Durango face since it is fairly expensive to live here.

“If they are in it for the right reason, doing their jobs for the right reasons, then the amount of money shouldn’t matter,” said Thomas, “But I think that teachers are underpaid and it is really unfortunate in this day and age. They aren’t paid very much so they obviously can’t afford nicer things so the quality of life goes down.”

Thomas also shared some of the characteristics she looks for in a good teacher not only for herself, but for peers as well.

“I really look for someone who is understanding of the students life. We do a lot of extracurriculars and it is hard to balance everything. I think a teacher who can understand that can really help you in your life, which is what a teacher needs to do,” said Thomas.

It is safe to say that the teachers at DHS aren’t here for the money, but to make a difference in the lives of students. Durango will most likely not experience any of the dramatic walkouts and protests, but will acknowledge the fact that teachers deserve more for their time and effort that they put into teaching children.  

As of Monday, April 16, 2018, Front Range teachers from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs went to the state Capitol to protest teacher pay and petition the legislature for more funding. School is being canceled in these areas in order to allow teachers to participate in these protests. Other schools across Colorado are also involved in the plead for higher pay, but some are unable to get to the Capitol.

Stephanie Snitselaar, president of the Durango Education Association explains that right now they are working on a new ballot initiative now.

“Ballot Initiative 93 is something we’re collecting signatures for right now!  It provides a funding fix that will help apply the Superintendents’ Formula to help create equitable per pupil spending across Colorado,” said Snitselaar.

9R School district sponsored a rally of Friday, April 27 to support increased education funding in Colorado to show support for the Front Range teachers that were at the Capitol on Friday.

Our goal is to support the call for equitable funding for education across the state, and to let our Legislature know that we care deeply about finding solutions to our public education funding challenges,” said an email from 9R administration.

This has become a nationwide issue as teachers beg to be heard by the legislature in order for a change to be made. It has yet to be seen whether or not there will be any changes in the near future.