Wave of School Walkouts Continues as Denver Teachers Strike

Denver school leaders, teachers negotiate trying to avoid strike

Denver teachers went on strike Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay. As Denver teachers take to the picket lines, Oakland, California, teachers have voted by 95 percent to strike as early as next week; West Virginia teachers and school workers have voted "overwhelmingly" to strike or engage in any work action necessary to oppose a pro-privatization education bill; Wright State, Ohio, faculty and Chicago charter school teachers are on strike.

Clearly, that extra $5,000 wasn't almost enough to keep the teacher at a school that was so overwhelmingly dysfunctional.

Denver East High School students are seen jumping up and down, chanting and roaming the hallways in video captured by junior Elena Katz, obtained by The Denver Post Monday.

"The district spent the last few weeks saying it heard what teachers were saying, yet when given the opportunity tonight to avert a strike with a transparent, competitive proposal, DPS made the situation worse and the strike inevitable", the association said in a statement.

As is universally the case, the primary concern of Denver educators is low pay.

The strike will affect 71,000 students across 147 schools, Colorado Public Radio reports. Another negotiation session is expected Tuesday.

Susana Cordova said she saw a range of effects at schools when teachers went on strike Monday.

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Some teachers have become ineligible for bonuses after their schools lost their official low-income status as parts of the city undergo gentrification. Better pay. When do we want it? Administrators were so overwhelmed dealing with assorted troubles at the school that they were essentially unavailable to help teachers at the classroom level, even when scenarios involving students, parents or guardians turned potentially unsafe. Union president Henry Roman said teachers were committed to reaching a deal but said that both sides needed a cooling off period.

On social media, some local substitute teachers indicated that they would refuse to cross the picket line.

Both sides met Friday evening to discuss how much teachers should be paid, both in base pay and in incentives.

After another meeting on Saturday, February 9, failed to make progress, either, DPS touted the generosity of its proposal, which "offered an additional $2 million in base pay for teachers and specialized-service providers", with funding coming "from the elimination of an estimated 150 positions in the Central Office", as well as "an increase in incentive pay for educators who teach in schools with the highest poverty rates, revisions to pay increases based on professional development and the elimination of performance bonuses for Central Office senior staff". Students have joined in the protests outside several schools. The district says schools will remain open during the strike and will be staffed by administrators and substitute teachers. As required by state law, teachers gave notice last month that they planned to strike.

The main issue teachers are striking over is a compensation system which they say favors giving out incentives over base pay, making it hard for the district to attract and retain qualified educators.

"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. But it can try to help the union and school district reach a deal and can require them participate in a fact-finding process.

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