As Colorado teachers prepare to walk out on Thursday and Friday to call for higher wages and increased school funding, some state lawmakers are working to make sure any plans to strike don’t go unpunished by introducing a bill in the Senate that could put teachers in jail for speaking out.
The bill, SB18-264, would prohibit public school teacher strikes by authorizing school districts to seek an injunction from district court. A failure to comply with the injunction would “constitute contempt of court” and teachers could face not only fines but up to six months in county jail, the bill language reads.
The bill also directs school districts to fire teachers on the spot without a proper hearing if they’re found in contempt of court and also bans public school teachers from getting paid “for any day which the public school teacher participates in a strike.”
The bill, which was introduced this past Friday, is sponsored by State Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner, both Republicans.
Mike Johnston, a Democrat eyeing the gubernatorial seat in 2018, has spoken out against the bill, calling it a “tactic designed to distract from the challenges facing Colorado’s education system rather than solving them.”
“Teachers across the country, from West Virginia and Oklahoma to Arizona and here in Colorado, are speaking up for themselves and their students. We need to listen to teachers now more than ever. This legislation attempts to silence their voices rather than working to address their concerns. As Governor, I will make sure that teachers are heard, not thrown in jail for exercising their rights,” Johnston said in a statement sent to Denver7.
I mean the bill is obvious strike-breaking 101, I can't see how it would pass in an election year, let alone get Gov. Hickenlooper's signature, but I guess it shows Republicans are willing to throw teachers in jail for the sake of the kids or something.
This is cartoonishly evil nonsense even for Republicans. They're really willing to take a teacher's career and their freedom if they strike? How does that help students in any way? How does that help to alleviate already serious teacher shortages in the state?
No, it's just Republicans using their power to punish those who don't agree with their austerity policies, literally, with actual jail time and job loss. It's authoritarian garbage, and this is what Republicans will try to do in every state if given the chance.