CEA endorses Polis for governor in education-focused general election

The Colorado Education Association is backing U.S. Rep. Jared Polis for governor in an election that will continue to be dominated by public education as a top issue for voters. Polis’ support for strong school funding and respect for educators will help Colorado turn the corner on a statewide educator shortage while expanding education opportunities for all students.

“Our members share Jared’s concern that too many communities don’t have the resources they need for every child to succeed,” said CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert. “We have created ‘haves and have-nots’ among our children, and nowhere is that more apparent than with our youngest students who don’t receive the same level of quality early childhood education. Jared impressed us with his strong commitment to give all kids a great start and better prepare them for a successful lifetime of learning.”

“I am truly honored to have the endorsement of CEA in this race and look forward to working with its 35,000 dedicated members to make Colorado the best state in the nation for students, parents and teachers," Polis said. “Everywhere I go in our state, I meet with families who are deeply concerned about the challenges facing our schools today — from the teacher shortage in rural communities, to overcrowded classrooms, to lower teacher pay that makes it difficult for educators to live in the communities where they teach. Together, we are going to finally invest in our schools the way our children deserve and ensure our amazing public school teachers have the resources they need to provide every child with a great education.”

Since 2009, state budgets have withheld $7.5 billion dollars from public schools and students including $672 million in the 2018-19 school year, even though Colorado has one of the nation’s best-performing economies. The budget shortfalls have led to a well-documented educator shortage. More than 3,000 teaching positions are currently unfilled across the state, with districts having equal difficulty in retaining bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other support staff.

“Our students deserve the very best, and they suffer the most when they do not have highly qualified, skilled educators and support staff in all public schools. As governor, Jared will focus on reversing the shortage with competitive wages and attractive workplace conditions commensurate with the responsibility of educating our children,” said Baca-Oehlert. “Jared believes educators should be paid as professionals so we can support our own families doing the job we love.”

Walker Stapleton’s time as Colorado’s state treasurer is marked by repeated attempts to weaken the PERA benefit for 500,000 current and future retirees. “Stapleton’s moves to privatize our public pension system is wrong. He will shamelessly pursue an agenda to privatize all aspects of public education, rewarding only those at the top of the economic ladder while doing nothing to help our most vulnerable students,” Baca-Oehlert observed.

Baca-Oehlert pointed to his work in Congress, working closely with educators to craft national education laws. “Jared understands that any plans to improve education are best considered and implemented by listening to educators. He starts from a position that educators are worthy of professional respect and deserve to have more voice in decisions that impact our students and profession.”

Improving public education is a top priority for Colorado voters in Election 2018, and Baca-Oehlert maintains the educator voice will matter. “We look forward to engaging voters and pointing out the vast differences between Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton. Jared will be the obvious choice for voters who are fed up with underfunding and educator shortages impacting their children, and desire to see strong public schools flourish in every Colorado community.”