Striking  Denver  teachers  restore  talks  with  school  district

Striking Denver teachers restore talks with school district

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, February 27, 2019

Students cheer as the walk out of their class in assistance of striking teachers in Denver, Colorado
Michael Ciaglo:Reuters

Thousands of Denver public school instructors walked picket lines for a second day on Tuesday, interrupting classes for some 92,000 students as union and school district officials resumed contract talks that broke down over the weekend.

In the most current in a series of strikes to hit U.S. public school systems around the nation, the 5,650-member Denver Classroom Educators Association is seeking higher pay with a salary structure focused less on efficiency rewards and more on cost-of-living increases.

The Denver labor disagreement follows statewide instructor walkouts last year in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, and a six-day strike in Los Angeles settled last month with a offer to decrease class sizes and raise incomes by 6 percent.

Talks in Denver broke down on Saturday, triggering the very first walkout by teachers in Colorado’s biggest city considering that 1994. The two sides returned to the bargaining table late on Tuesday early morning.

Outside Columbian Primary school, a dozen instructors picketed, including early childhood education specialist Traci McKeehan, 48, who stated she was enthusiastic a deal would be reached with a more predictable pay structure. The union says the current system has led to wide specific wage changes from year to year, leading to greater rates of teacher turnover.

“In Denver, we’re losing teachers left and right,” said McKeehan, who was holding a sign that check out, “We’d rather be mentor.”

The Denver Public Schools district has stated its latest proposition would raise instructors’ pay by almost 11 percent next year, while the union has called that figure inflated.

On Monday, Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova told reporters that the district has currently met numerous of the instructors’ demands for simplifying their complex pay structure.

“We’ve made truly considerable changes currently,” Cordova stated. “Many of the things I believe that we hear our teachers complain about, actually aren’t about the proposition that we’ve put on the table, it’s about the current system. And numerous of those things I concur with as well.”

District officials promised to keep all 207 schools open through the strike, staffed by replacement teachers and administration personnel. However on Tuesday the district said it canceled pre-kindergarten classes.

The so-called ProComp pay system at the essence of the strike was initially welcomed by the union when it was set up in 2005, promoted as a method of enabling instructors to construct their incomes through a mix of possible incentives. Those consist of benefits tied to student achievement and tougher mentor projects, such as schools in high-poverty areas.

But the union says ProComp, one of the longest-running instructor pay plans of its kind in the country, has rather eroded instructor pay in a city where the cost of living has soared in the previous 10 years.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday expressed assistance for the instructors’ pay demands and offered to assistance mediate the dispute.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Extra reporting by Jann Tracey in Denver and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing and extra reporting by Peter Szekely in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Modifying by John Stonestreet and Matthew Lewis