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Residents ‘stepped up for teachers’

This summer, hundreds of Montezuma County residents stepped up for our teachers by supporting Initiative 63. That measure would have let Coloradans vote to increase funding specifically for teacher pay. Thank you to those who circulated petitions. Thank you to the Montezuma-Cortez School Board and Cortez City Council that passed resolutions supporting it. Thank you to the overwhelming support of over 700 petition signers who took the time to learn about and support this vital issue.

Montezuma County needed Initiative 63. Although Colorado consistently ranks in the top five strongest economies in the nation, we rank near the bottom in public school funding and teacher pay. Rural districts fare even worse. Cortez ranks in the bottom 10% of Colorado for funding. We see the teacher turnover, and shortages and below average district performance.

Maybe that's why it was incredibly easy for petition circulators to gather signatures. People signed enthusiastically because they value our teachers and understand that we risk losing them without competitive pay.

Although the signature effort went well in Montezuma County, voters won’t see it on the November ballot, as it did not get enough signatures statewide by the deadline. I’m disappointed, but remain committed to working toward better funding for Colorado public schools, especially rural schools like ours, where the funding gaps are largest.

Funding isn’t the only barrier to our schools’ success. Why not work toward effective leadership for our schools and sufficient resources? Imagine what we could do with both.

Laura DeWitt