TABOR, Colorado education funding and the teacher protests (for Dummies)
KUSA – By now, you’ve probably read that thousands of teachers plan to rally at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday and Friday.
This has led the state’s largest school districts to cancel class. To put this into perspective, if you got all the kids who will have the day off in the same place, it would be Colorado’s second largest city.
It’s a big deal.
Education funding in Colorado is confusing, as in the kind of thing that still doesn’t make sense even after spending half of your work day trying to brush up on it (talking from experience here).
But, like “War and Peace,” your state’s education budget is important … but also super confounding and kinda tedious (apologies to all the Tolstoy fans out there). So, here’s our attempt at a Cliffnotes version to get you up to speed before our coverage of the teacher protests (which is ironic because if there’s one thing teachers hate, it’s using Cliffnotes instead of reading the actual book).
What are the teachers protesting?
Colorado’s teachers are protesting a few things. First off, they’re speaking out against the state’s lack of education funding (some studies put Colorado in the bottom tier nationwide), low teacher pay (while you’ll see some reports that teacher pay in Colorado is ranked 46th in the country, it’s actually 31st at $52,736 a year, according to the latest National Education Association report) and proposed changes to their pension plan.
During the protests, there’s one thing hear about a lot: TABOR, and specifically, how it impacts the education budget.
So … what’s up with TABOR?
No, it’s not someone’s name (necessarily). Instead, it’s an acronym for the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This was passed in 1992, and basically, you can trace everything that’s a little unique about Colorado’s budget back to this.