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Colorado Educators Honor Public Education Champions

Posted on: July 19, 2023
Posted By: CEA Communications
Posted in: Press
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Each year the Colorado Education Association honors the legislators who have centered educators and students in the legislation they pursued. This year’s 2023 class of Public Education Champions prioritized putting students first; addressed the challenges we, as educators are facing; and emphasized CEA’s pillars of investment, respect, safety and housing. These advancements were made thanks in no small part to the fierce advocacy and collaboration of the CEA’s nearly 39,000 members. During the 2022-23 session, our state made incredible gains in educators’ priorities and core areas of concern.

“Historic legislative wins such as a $180 million buydown of the Budget Stabilization Factor, $30 million for rural schools, a $1,018 increase in per pupil spending, the largest increase in educator and public workers rights in a decade, solutions to the teacher shortage – none of these would have been possible without the stewardship of our public education champions,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the CEA.

TOP OF CLASS
We’re thrilled to honor six of our legislators with the Top of Class Public Education Champion designation. These legislators went above and beyond by listening to our members’ needs and finding problem-solving legislation to address them. Representative Eliza Hamrick, Representative Meghan Lukens, Senator Janice Marchman, Senator Chris Kolker, Representative Javier Mabrey, and Senator Rachel Zenzinger each stood out as champions across our legislative priorities of investment, respect, safety and housing.

INVESTMENT
Colorado’s future depends on enacting a long-term, systemic fix which will provide additional revenue sources for our public school system. The only way to ensure that we have the education system worthy of our students and educators is to dedicate ourselves to a sustainable long-term investment. These legislators listened to our members and prioritized investing in public education. By pushing a $180 million B.S. Factor buydown, ensuring that Colorado keeps its commitments to public education, and advocating for other basic needs of educators such as housing and PERA investment, these legislators made a huge difference for our members. We are proud to recognize Speaker of the House Representative Julie McCluskie, Representative Shannon Bird, Senator Janet Buckner, Senator Chris Hansen, Representative Cathy Kipp, Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, and Representative Barbara McLachlan for their hard work.

RESPECT
Respecting our educators as professional experts in our field means more than just paying a living wage. It means centering our voices and expertise in legislation that affects our work. CEA would like to honor the legislators who centered educators in the legislation they pursued. We’re grateful for the leadership of the bill sponsors of SB 23-111 (which instituted the largest increase in educator and public workers rights in a decade) and the sponsors of HB 23-1064 Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact (which was an important win in the fight to combat statewide teacher shortages). Colorado legislators who prioritized respect for our educators include: Senator James Coleman, Senator Robert Rodriguez, Representative Brianna Titone, Representative Steven Woodrow, and Representative Mary Young.

SAFETY
Our schools—their successes and their challenges—are often a reflection of the issues our communities are wrestling with. This is especially obvious with our schools’ ongoing struggle to ensure the safety of all those who work and learn within them each day. It’s time we listen to educators who are at the center of this issue, and live with its complexities and repercussions. CEA would like to honor the following legislators for all their work to make schools and society safer, increase mental health resources, stand up to the gun lobby, and overcome obstruction. Colorado legislators who prioritized our schools’ safety include: Senate President Senator Steve Fenberg, Representative Jennifer Bacon, Senator Jeff Bridges, Representative Monica Duran, Representative Elisabeth Epps, and Senator Rhonda Fields.

HOUSING
Housing accessibility is a top concern for Colorado residents, and a lack of affordable housing disproportionately affects educators. This is a crisis and it must be treated as such. When educators can’t live in the communities where they work and teach, it is our students who lose out on dedicated teachers who will support their academic, personal, social, and physical growth. This legislative session saw bold potential fixes introduced to address Colorado’s affordable housing crisis – such as SB23-213 Land Use, HB23-1115 Repeal Prohibition Local Residential Rent Control, and HB23-1171 Just Cause Requirement Eviction of Residential Tenant. Unfortunately none of these groundbreaking pieces of legislation moved forward, but CEA nonetheless honors the groundbreaking work of its sponsors, including: Senator Julie Gonzales, Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, Representative Iman Jodeh, Senator Dominick Moreno, Senator Tom Sullivan, and Representative Elizabeth Velasco.

For more information on all of our Public Education Legislative Champions, please visit our website >>

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For more information on the Colorado Education Association’s Legislative Agenda:

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About the Colorado Education Association

The Colorado Education Association is the voice of 39,000 educators, working together in a strong union to ensure all students get the exceptional public schools they deserve, in every neighborhood across the state. As Colorado’s largest labor union, CEA works collectively with all education stakeholders to ensure Colorado’s standing as an excellent state in which to learn, live, work, and raise a family.

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