Denver Explainer: Denver instructors strike challenges landmark incentive pay scheme

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, February 16, 2019

Denver (Reuters) – A unique, incentive-based pay structure embraced by Denver public schools more than a years ago is at the core of a strike by instructors who state the bonus system has actually deteriorated their making power in a city where the expense of living has soared over the last 10 years. Munroe Elementary teacher Melissa Curry holds a indication throughout a rally across from the Colorado State Capitol as Denver public school teachers strike for a second day in Denver, Colorado, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo Their union, the Denver Classroom Educators Association, initially accepted the so-called ProComp pay plan however is now seeking a more conventional income structure with less focus on benefits tied to student accomplishment or harder teaching projects. The Denver work stoppage, which started on Monday, follows statewide instructor walkouts driven by wage conflicts 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 policy. The strike in Denver is contesting the longest-running instructor payment system of its kind in the United States, according to Allison Atteberry, an education teacher at Colorado University-Boulder who has actually studied the issue. ProComp, short for Expert Compensation, started on a pilot basis in 2001, growing out of a national motion to link instructors’ salaries with efficiency, measured in part by trainee achievement. The Denver program consisted of rewards connected to efficiency assessments, and a panoply of other aspects aimed at getting the greatest teachers to the students who need them most. MINIMIZED BASE PAY A s completely embraced in 2005 – with a special voter-approved property tax to fund it – ProComp includes benefits for teaching in high-poverty neighborhoods and in hard-to-staff subjects such as math, science and unique education. On the other hand, it likewise rewards faculty members of the top-performing schools. But union officials said the program was revised in 2008 in a method that has decreased general base pay in lieu of bonus offers that are less predictable and have failed to keep pace with increasing living expenditures. The result is a growing exodus of knowledgeable instructors from Denver to surrounding districts with greater pay, stated Robert Gould, chief negotiator for the 5,650-member Denver Class Educators Association. The cost of a median-price house in Denver has leapt 85 percent during the past decade, while Colorado as a whole ranked 50 th last year among all states in instructor wage competitiveness in a Rutgers University research study. “This is truly at the heart of what Denver teachers are experiencing; an uninhabitable overall salary level in an progressively unaffordable city,” Atteberry informed Reuters by email. The superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Susana Cordova, showed at the start of renewed agreement talks on Tuesday the district was moving towards instructors’ needs for streamlining the existing pay structure. “Many of the things I think we hear our instructors grumble about, actually, aren’t’ about the proposal that we’ve put on the table,” she stated. “It’s about the existing system. And many of those things I agree with as well.” Reporting by Steve Gorman; editing by Expense Tarrant and Diane Craft Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.