How long will Denver's teacher strike last? History offers clues

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 12, 2019

The educator's strike, the first in the city in 25 years, in the latest example of educator discontent, following a wave of walkouts over the last year.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association is operating food banks to help families impacted by the strike.

"Despite the union's refusal to continue negotiating, we remain committed to working with the leadership of the DCTA to end this strike".

The main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing Denver's incentive pay system, which started over a year ago, are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers' base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, as followed by most school districts.

A leading Colorado lawmaker says Denver's teachers strike underscores the need to boost funding of public schools across the state. The strike is estimated to leave 92,000 students over 160 public schools without their teachers for an unknown period of time, The Post reported.

"We wanted to show our teachers that we know they are critical to our learning environment", Adriana Medina, an organizer of the sit-ins, told the World Socialist Web Site.

It will cost about $400,000 a day to keep the schools running during the strike, Gov. Jared Polis said.

The Los Angeles teachers ended up getting the same 6 percent raise offered early on by the nation's second-largest school district.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and Denver Public Schools met on Saturday in an attempt to reach a new contract after more than a year of negotiations. Because of this, the teacher received two $2,500 bonuses, resulting in a $5,000 bump above average first-year pay.

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Some teachers argue that spending money on things like smaller class sizes and adding support staff, like counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students learn and make them good schools for teachers to work in. "And teachers say that makes it really hard to plan or even pay rent".

Both sides have offered proposals to simplify the system, but there is still disagreement over the use of bonuses.

Teachers are claiming the district's proposal lacks transparency and "pushes for failed incentives for some over meaningful base salary for all".

"They need us. They need our labour, they need our minds, they need our talents to really make it happen", lead union negotiator Rob Gould said. "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we heard from our teachers ... and significantly increases the base pay for all of our educators".

Sean Bowers, a Denver high school physical education teacher, speaking to CNN, said that with a base salary of $42,000 he has to drive for Lyft, coach sports, run a ninth-grade academy and write curriculum for extra money. "The freaky proposal proves what we have said during this entire process, that DPS is not interested in listening to the concerns and needs of its teachers and special service providers".

- Another $2 million investment in base pay for teachers and specialized staff members that would "come from additional, painful cuts to our central departments, which we estimate to be an elimination of about 150 positions in the central office".

In preparation for the strike, the district hired 300 new subs to pad its active roster of 1,200 subs.

The Democrat also says school districts must do a better job at ensuring tax dollars go to the classroom and not administrative overhead.

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