Teachers protest funding gap, some PERA changes at Capitol

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Colorado's teachers' union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that's planned for Monday at the state's Capitol in Denver.

Cohn says at this point, she's 51 years old and it's just not feasible for her to start a new career - which means she's dependent on getting the pension benefits she expected.

Hundreds of teachers showed up Monday at the Capitol to let lawmakers know that even though classes are largely back in session across Oklahoma, educators aren't finished. Many teachers all over the country have been coming together on Facebook and planning strikes and "walk ins". The protest April 16 was organized by the Colorado Education Association, which represents more than 35,000 educators, many of whom say too many teachers in the state are forced to work second jobs and pay out of pocket for classroom supplies.

Pendleton School District Special Programs Director Julie Smith says educators are faced with more and more children who are the victims of traumatic experiences, and teachers in the district are learning how to deal with that.

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- Education funding: Colorado effectively has underfunded its schools by $828 million, the CEA says, because the state hasn't kept up with a state constitutional mandate passed last decade to increase funds each year by at least the rate of inflation.

In Lewis' 17 years of teaching, he's seen the industry change. He likened being a teacher to "becoming a father".

"If we want to recruit and retain teachers, we have to offer a living wage and a viable retirement", Roman said.

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Berryhill teachers voted to keep the district closed one final day Monday so they could head to the Capitol to advocate.

The Colorado Education Association wrote that based on a survey of more than 2,200 of its members, educators are spending, on average, $656 per year out of their own pockets to buy students pencils, glue, binders, snacks and toothpaste, and covering costs of school lunch and field trips.

Colorado ranks 40th in spending per student, according to the AP.

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