Colorado GOP threatens to throw teachers in jail for going on strike


Republicans want to fine, fire, and lock up teachers who demand better school funding.

Teachers around the country are taking to the streets to protest poor pay and even worse funding for their classrooms. Republicans in Colorado are looking to lock them up for it.

Teacher pay in Colorado ranks 46th in the nation. Educators there will hold a walkout this Thursday and Friday to demand better. But Republican legislators are pushing a bill that would fire, fine, and potentially incarcerate any protesting teachers.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Bob Gardner and state Rep. Paul Lundeen, would "prohibit public school teacher strikes by authorizing school districts to seek an injunction from district court," according to local reports.

Under the bill, "teachers could face not only fines but up to six months in county jail" for striking.

It's just the latest in a series of botched and baffling Republican responses to the grassroots movement teachers are leading.

The fuse was first lit in West Virginia in February. Teachers there shut down schools for nine days over stagnant wages and deteriorating benefits. They finally won a modest wage increase from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Teachers in Arizona, who earn less money today than they did in 1999, will hold a walkout on Tuesday. "After deducting for the pension contribution and Social Security, the average Arizona teacher's pay is reduced to about $39,800 a year, before taxes or health care benefits" CNN reports.

In Oklahoma, teachers swarmed the capitol for days. The GOP's state-run evisceration of school budgets in that state has been staggering. Last year, nearly 100 districts in the state closed schools every Friday or Monday because the districts could only afford to keep schools open four days a week.

And the troubles have not abated. "Schools began this academic year with more than 800 teacher vacancies statewide, and they’re still struggling to hire people because teachers can get much better pay in any of our neighboring states," according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Teachers in Kentucky have also staged walkouts, which drew a repugnant response from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. He claimed kids had likely been molested and poisoned because they were forced to stay home during the walkouts. He offered a tepid and insufficient apology for the comments only after being roundly shamed.

And with this bill in Colorado, it's even clearer that the Republican Party's war on education knows no bounds.