(CBS4) – Colorado’s public education system is in crisis. That’s according to the Colorado Department of Education report released on Tuesday by Colorado’s largest union for teachers and support staff.
Across Colorado, schools are operating with less staff, more pressure and flat funding and have been for some time.
“It’s things like that that we believe are leading to 67% of people saying they are considering leaving the profession,” Aime Baca-Oehlert said.
Baca-Oehlert is the President of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest union for teachers and support staff. She says that was a major red flag from their annual State of Education report.
“Certainly, that’s a startling statistic and something that we should cause all of us to think and hopefully to act,” she said.
The report is built off survey responses from their nearly 40,000 members, and highlight three problem areas: funding, staff shortages and burnout.
Brooke Williams is a teacher in Jefferson County and head of her local education association.
“Stress, workload, staff shortages and increased student behaviors are contributing factors to educator burnout,” she said.
In Denver, high school teacher Amber Wilson says she’s never seen her district struggle to fill positions like they are now.
“In a year when we are all concerned with the learning gaps created by the pandemic these shortages will only exasperate the issue,” Wilson said.
The report also emphasizes the areas they’ll be pushing for change in next year’s legislative session with a priority on funding.
“I’m hopeful that there is more weight behind it because we are seeing the profession at a breaking point,” Baca-Oehlert said.
In his proposed budget for next year, Gov. Jared Polis calls for a record amount of funding for both early education and higher ed.
The Colorado Education Association says it’s a start, in addition to funding they would also like to see lawmakers put priority on mental health for students and educators.