Cary Kennedy will get two teachers union endorsements in Colorado governor’s race

Kennedy is a former state treasurer and chief financial officer for the city of Denver who was the author of Amendment 23, a measure that requires the state to increase educational funding every year.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy speaks at the Colorado Health Institute's Hot Issues in Health conference, Dec. 8, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Two influential teachers unions plan to endorse Cary Kennedy in the Democratic primary for governor.

Kennedy’s campaign said on Tuesday that the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado chapter of the American Federation of Teachers will formally announce their endorsements on Wednesday in Denver.

Kennedy is a former state treasurer and chief financial officer for the city of Denver who was the author of Amendment 23, a measure that requires the state to increase educational funding every year. The state doesn’t fully comply with that requirement because it can’t afford it.

Kennedy has made increasing teacher pay a key part of her education platform, which also also calls for universal access to preschool and full-day kindergarten. She says her ultimate goal is have every Colorado student in college or in the workforce by age 19. She acknowledges that enacting this platform would require changes to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to allow the state to keep more revenue.

The news comes on the same day that anti-immigrant hardliner Tom Tancredo announced he was withdrawing from the Republican race for governor. Tancredo was seen as a likely spoiler in the governor’s race, and in announcing his withdrawal, he declared he did not think any Republican can win.

Education has been a major issue in the Democratic campaign. State Rep. Jared Polis is a former chair of the State Board of Education, and Mike Johnston, a former state lawmaker and educator, has drawn significant support from education reform advocates. Businessman Noel Ginsburg runs a program that provides apprenticeships for high school students.

ReadyCO, the primary conservative voice on education issues in the state, does not plan to endorse in the Republican race. It’s not clear if Democrats for Education Reform will take a position in the Democratic race.

Chalkbeat’s Nic Garcia talked at length with Kennedy about her education ideas last year. You can read that interview here.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.