Denver teachers strike over pay disputes


Denver teachers will strike on Monday after negotiations with Denver Public Schools fell through, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association said Saturday.

Teachers in Denver are going on strike for the first time in 25-years after failed negotiations with the public school district.

After failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay, teachers began picketing before the start of the school day.

Outside South High School after the start of school on Monday morning some students left the school to join teachers outside. "Red pen" teachers have been marching every weekend across France, Tunisian teachers have been on strike since October, New Zealand primary school teachers are threatening to resume their walkouts and similar struggles have erupted on virtually every continent over the course of the a year ago.

Throughout the fruitless bargaining, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association has delayed strike action.

"We are working to make it as transparent as possible", Cordova said.

The strike affecting about 71,000 students in Denver comes about a year after West Virginia teachers launched the national "Red4Ed" movement with a nine-day strike in which they won 5 percent pay raises. Similar strikes and protests have occurred in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona.

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Other recent teacher demonstrations, like the teacher walkout in Los Angeles last month, focused on more than pay, such as reducing class size and other issues more directly related to students. "In interviews with about 40 teachers I did, not one could tell me exactly how much they made".

In a statement reported by the AP, the teachers union said the district's proposal lacks transparency and "pushes for failed incentives for some over meaningful base salary for all".

"You are unique here in Denver because you are just saying, 'Can I just know what I'm being paid?'" Lily Eskelsen Garcia declared at a rally outside the state Capitol.

In Denver, the dispute is over the school district's incentive-based pay system. The city's school district gives bonuses ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 a year to teachers who work with students from low-income families, in schools that are designated high priority or in positions that are considered hard to staff, such as special education or speech language pathology.

The union pushed for lower bonuses for high-poverty and high-priority schools to free up more money for overall teacher pay and criticized the district for spending too much money on administration. However, the district sees those bonuses as key to boosting the academic performance of poor and minority students. More than 30 percent of Denver teachers have been in the district for three years or less, according to DCTA. The school district says its proposed base pay increase adds an additional $11 million in teacher compensation.

"Offers our teachers an nearly 11-percent increase for next year and to hear the feedback and to be in a position that, rather than sticking with it and figuring out, I'm incredibly disappointed that they walked away", stated Susana Cordova, DPS superintendent. In districts like Denver and Los Angeles where many families are working-class, staying home to care for students who are out of school can quickly jeopardize families' savings and even employment.

"He needs to be in school to get his education, but I need to make sure he's getting a quality education", Knupp said.