Parents, teachers and other employees of the Cherry Creek School District took time to meet with their state lawmakers and stress the importance of legislative support for public education during the 2015 “Breakfast with Our Legislators,” held Nov. 20 at the Instructional Support Facility.
The annual event was hosted by the Cherry Creek Community Legislative Network (CCCLN), a non-partisan committee promoting awareness of education issues, legislation and the legislative process. CCCLN invites all state representatives and senators who represent the Cherry Creek School District. This year, the following lawmakers attended: Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-District 42; Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-District 3; Rep. Su Ryden, D-District 36; Rep. Jack Tate, R-District 37 and Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-District 29.
There was discussion of several topics including testing, unfunded mandates and local control. But everyone seemed to agree that the most critical issue continues to be funding for public education. An impassioned Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, made it clear that the responsibility for resolving the funding issue lies with the legislature.
“We will do the work,” Dr. Bull said, “but we need some leadership from downtown.”
Among the audience members were seven teachers from CCSD elementary schools, who took personal time to attend the breakfast.
"We felt it was important to be at the CCCLN breakfast this morning, because these are the legislators helping to make the decisions that are impacting our students and our profession,” said Charles Kastens, a teacher at Independence Elementary. “It is our responsibility, both as citizens and as educators, to be involved in that decision-making process.
“We wanted our legislators to know that the teacher's voice needs to be involved from the beginning of a proposed policy, not after it has been put in place,” Kastens added.” We believe we could add some important insight and would like to assist in any way, to help make wise, informed decisions regarding the classroom."
Rep. Su Ryden acknowledged the unintended impact some legislation has on educators.
“I think we’ve beat up teachers enough,” Ryden said. “We are rethinking some of the things we’ve put in place.”
Parent Kathy Underhill, who serves as the legislative liaison for the Heritage Elementary PTCO, was glad to have the opportunity to meet with lawmakers.
“I really appreciate the fact that five legislators took time to come. That speaks volumes,” she said.
Underhill will be taking information from the breakfast back to her school community.
“Funding really is THE topic and we really need to be engaged with our representative. We need to focus on helping him understand our views and priorities.”
The Cherry Creek Community Legislative Network (CCCLN) will host another annual event, “A Day at the Capitol,” on Fri., March 25, 2016. The event is open to everyone in the Cherry Creek Schools community. Look for more information on the district website, www.cherrycreekschools.org, early next year.