Why Colorado's teachers union isn't supporting a bill to give 20K teachers a $2,000 bonus

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DENVER -- A bill has been introduced to give more than 20,000 teachers classified as "highly effective" a $2,000 bonus. The price tag is around $50 million from taxpayers.

SB20-074 was introduced by state Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-El Paso).

"Let's give them a bonus," Lundeen said, adding, "When you reward that which is good, you get more of it."

But despite handing out stress balls with "#raisethepay" on them to lawmakers, it does not appear the Colorado Education Association, the state's biggest teachers union, will back the bill. That's significant because Democrats, who control the General Assembly, often lean on the union for advice

"Educators deserve a reliable stable pay structure and bonuses don't get at that," said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association.

Baca-Oehlert says the union is officially neutral on the bill but does not believe bonuses to select teachers is the answer. Baca-Oehlert is working on a separate bill to raise pay for all teachers in Colorado.

"We also have significant issues with the system labeling teachers 'highly effective'," Baca-Oehlert said.

A recent poll found 73 percent of Coloradans support giving highly effective teachers a $2,000 bonus.

There are an estimated 50,000 teachers in Colorado. A recent report found Colorado ranking 47th in the country for educator compensation.

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