By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – A distinct, incentive-based pay structure embraced by Denver public schools more than a years ago is at the core of a strike by teachers who say the perk system has eroded their making power in a city where the expense of living has skyrocketed over the last 10 years.
Their union, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, initially welcomed the so-called ProComp pay scheme but is now looking for a more conventional salary structure with less emphasis on perks connected to trainee accomplishment or harder mentor assignments.
The Denver work blockage, which started on Monday, follows statewide teacher walkouts driven by income disagreements last year in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, and a strike in Los Angeles last month that focused on pay, class size and charter school regulation.
The strike in Denver is contesting the longest-running teacher compensation system of its kind in the United States, according to Allison Atteberry, an education professor at Colorado University-Boulder who has actually studied the issue.
ProComp, short for Professional Payment, began on a pilot basis in 2001, growing out of a national movement to link instructors’ salaries with performance, determined in part by trainee achievement.
The Denver program consisted of incentives tied to efficiency evaluations, and a panoply of other elements aimed at getting the strongest educators to the trainees who requirement them many.
MINIMIZED BASE PAY
As completely embraced in 2005 – with a unique voter-approved property tax to fund it – ProComp consists of rewards for mentor in high-poverty neighborhoods and in hard-to-staff topics such as math, science and special education. Alternatively, it likewise rewards professors members of the top-performing schools.
But union officials said the program was modified in 2008 in a method that has actually lessened basic base pay in lieu of benefits that are less foreseeable and have stopped working to keep speed with increasing living expenses.
The outcome is a growing exodus of experienced instructors from Denver to surrounding districts with higher pay, said Robert Gould, chief arbitrator for the 5,650-member Denver Classroom Teachers Association.
The cost of a median-price house in Denver has leapt 85 percent throughout the past years, while Colorado as a entire ranked 50 th last year amongst all states in instructor wage competitiveness in a Rutgers University research study.
“This is actually at the heart of what Denver teachers are experiencing; an uninhabitable total income level in an increasingly unaffordable city,” Atteberry informed Reuters by e-mail.
The superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Susana Cordova, suggested at the beginning of restored contract talks on Tuesday the district was moving toward teachers’ demands for simplifying the current pay structure.
“Many of the things I believe we hear our teachers complain about, really, aren’t’ about the proposition that we’ve put on the table,” she stated. “It’s about the current system. And numerous of those things I concur with as well.”
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; editing by Costs Tarrant and Diane Craft)