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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Colorado teachers took their call for better pay and benefits to the State Capitol on Monday. As Blair Miller and Marc Stewart report for Denver7:
Dozens of Colorado public school teachers descended Monday on the state Capitol to demand better pay and pensions as lawmakers inside debated their future retirement benefit program.
Englewood Schools were closed for the day as most of the school’s teachers joined the rally. The educators are the latest across the U.S. who have joined public walkouts to call for higher wages for public school teachers…
…The CEA estimates that Colorado teachers spend $656 of their own money for school supplies for students each year, and the average teacher salary here ranks 46th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Education Association. [Pols emphasis]
For a great explanation of how and why Colorado teachers are so underpaid, check out this story from Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski:
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week; Quality Counts, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show Colorado ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student, roughly $2,500 less than the national average.
Which means despite being the nation’s 12th richest state, our public schools land at the bottom of the list for both per pupil spending and teacher pay.
► Something smells in Yuma, Colorado, where Sheriff Chad Day appears to have accepted and $62,000 truck and other “donations” to the Sheriff’s department so that billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer can be a “volunteer sheriff’s deputy” in Yuma County — with the primary purpose of skirting gun laws so that Mercer can carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country.
► President Trump overruled advisers and decided to scrap proposed sanctions on Russia. As the New York Times reports:
President Trump rejected, for now at least, a fresh round of sanctions set to be imposed against Russia on Monday, a course change that underscored the schism between the president and his national security team.
The president’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, had announced on Sunday that the administration would place sanctions on Russian companies found to be assisting Syria’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions were listed on a menu of further government options after an American-led airstrike on Syria, retaliating against a suspected gas attack that killed dozens a week earlier.
But the White House contradicted her on Monday, saying that Mr. Trump had not approved additional measures.
“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.
Perhaps Trump received a weekend phone call from his Uncle Putin.
► President Trump has yet to announce a replacement for Communications Director Hope Hicks, who announced in February that she would be leaving the White House. As the Washington Post reports, that may be because Trump has decided to just do the job himself:
He drafts talking points. He organizes surrogates. He oversees rapid response. He maintains relationships with key media figures over dinners, rounds of golf and long phone calls. And, of course, he manages his own social media presence.
Since the 2016 election, five people have now done six stints as Trump’s communications director. One reason it’s an impossible job is that the former reality television star who occupies the Oval Office will always consider himself his own best spokesman.
Get even more smarter after the jump…