Kerrie DallmanKerrie DallmanMarch 20, 20183min785

Many in Colorado, including firefighters, police officers, other public servants — and especially the more than 35,000 members of the Colorado Education Association — want to see the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association fixed and poised for a solid future. We all depend upon a strong PERA for retirement. However, the current bill (SB-200) moving through the Senate is not the answer. Here is why:


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 15, 20184min1003


Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston introduces himself to a caucus precinct at Denver’s McAuliffe International School during Colorado’s 2018 caucuses on March 8. (Photo by Andy Colwell for the Gazette)

As reported by Chalkbeat Colorado and other media this week, the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday upheld a much-debated 2010 state law that lets school districts place veteran teachers on unpaid leave if they are underperforming. Meaning, tenure won’t shield teachers from dismissal.

The ruling drew accolades from education reformers, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston, who as a state senator had sponsored the law when it was still a bill in the legislature.

As expected, the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, denounced the ruling — tenure being a cornerstone of collective bargaining agreements. (The union’s attorneys had represented the plaintiffs in the suit that led to the court decision.)

The face-off between those two takes on the subject has riven the Democratic Party for years. Following Monday’s ruling, it spilled over onto the pages of Colorado’s unofficial Democratic barometer, Colorado Pols.

The blog took note of the development — and zeroed in on Johnston’s praise of the court action as well as the fact his position was in sync with that of the conservative Republican education-reform group Ready Colorado. (For the record, the longtime liberal advocacy shop Colorado Children’s Campaign also welcomed the ruling.)

That prompted a flurry of comments posted by readers who heaped scorn on Johnston — and in some cases questioned whether he belonged in the Democratic Party:

“He and Lebsock…”? Ouch.

Johnston — a onetime teacher who has proven to be a champion fund-raiser so far in the governor’s race — did draw some support:

One alert contributor to the comment thread pointed out Johnston isn’t alone on the campaign trail in his support of the state law that was reaffirmed Monday: Rival Democratic gubernatorial contender and 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Jared Polis also embraced the policy. Polis, an education reformer and charter school champion in his own right, reiterated his support for the law in an op-ed he penned for Politico in 2013.

It’s also worth noting that as of 2012, the Colorado School Finance Partnership — which was co-chaired by another of the current Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, Cary Kennedy — was on record lauding that same law.


Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 13, 20186min1046

A Colorado Senate committee listened to four and a half hours of testimony on how to fix the state's shaky pension plan Tuesday, but it didn't take a vote. Instead, the Finance Committee will reconvene Wednesday to throw amendment at Senate Bill 200. At stake is a plan to fill in a projected pension shortfall of $32 billion to more than $50 billion over the next three decades as state, local and school district employees retire. The Finance Committee was the first to get a whack at the bill that is likely to be rewritten at every step of legislative process, but needs to get to the governor's desk before the General Assembly adjourns on May 9.