Defeat of Amendment 73 Propagates Teacher Underpayment

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Teachers are infamously underpaid; this is not opinion, but a verifiable fact. According to a study from the Education Law Center, Colorado is in last place for the competitiveness of teacher salaries. This has agitated various teacher strikes, however there is a new issue for teachers; Amendment 73, which would have increased taxes in order to provide more money for schools, was defeated in the most recent election.

Amendment 73 would have raised taxes on corporations and people making more than $150,000 a year. It also would have decreased property taxes on school districts. Revenue from the new taxes would have gone to school funding and made funding more equal throughout the various school districts in Colorado.

The average wage of a teacher in Colorado is $52,000 a year (according to teachingdegree.org), but the starting wage is closer to $38,000. This wage, especially the starting wage, is statistically too little for a teacher to survive on, at least in Denver; on average, a single family home in Denver costs $500,000, and the majority of apartments cost between $1,000-$1,500 per month.  A teaching job isn’t enough on its own, forcing numerous teachers across the country to work multiple jobs, approximately 18% according to NBC.

There are plans for a teacher strike, however if the issue can be resolved without, it would be preferable, as a strike would cost teachers money, and students would lose out on valuable education.

The reason for all this conflict is the Tabor amendment, which makes it impossible to raise taxes without being approved by referendum.

Teachers frequently have to cover many classroom costs out-of-pocket, which only adds to the financial strain on them. They have very few options, so a strike may well be the only way to affect change for them. Amendment 73 wouldn’t have exclusively helped teachers, either. Revenue would have also gone to school infrastructure, among other things, helping students as well.

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