Denver  teachers  strike  difficulties  landmark  incentive  pay  scheme

Denver teachers strike difficulties landmark incentive pay scheme

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, February 28, 2019

Munroe Elementary teacher Melissa Curry holds a sign throughout a rally throughout from the Colorado State Capitol as Denver public school instructors strike for a 2nd day in Denver, Colorado, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Ciaglo

A unique, incentive-based pay structure adopted by Denver public schools more than a decade ago is at the core of a strike by teachers who state the benefit system has deteriorated their earning power in a city where the expense of living has soared over the last 10 years.

Their union, the Denver Class Teachers Association, initially accepted the so-called ProComp pay plan but is now looking for a more traditional wage structure with less focus on rewards tied to trainee accomplishment or harder teaching assignments.

The Denver work interruption, which began 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 teacher compensation system of its kind in the United States, according to Allison Atteberry, an education teacher at Colorado University-Boulder who has studied the problem.

ProComp, short for Professional Compensation, started on a pilot basis in 2001, growing out of a nationwide motion to link teachers’ wages with performance, determined in part by trainee accomplishment.

The Denver program consisted of incentives connected to performance examinations, and a panoply of other aspects intended at getting the strongest educators to the students who need them the majority of.

As totally embraced in 2005 – with a special voter-approved property tax to fund it – ProComp includes rewards for mentor in high-poverty neighborhoods and in hard-to-staff topics such as mathematics, science and unique education. Conversely, it likewise rewards faculty members of the top-performing schools.

But union authorities stated the program was modified in 2008 in a method that has reduced basic base pay in lieu of bonus offers that are less foreseeable and have stopped working to keep rate with increasing living expenditures.

The result is a growing exodus of experienced teachers from Denver to neighboring districts with greater pay, stated Robert Gould, chief negotiator for the 5,650-member Denver Class Teachers Association.

The cost of a median-price house in Denver has leapt 85 percent during the past years, while Colorado as a whole ranked 50 th last year among all states in teacher wage competitiveness in a Rutgers University study.

“This is really at the heart of what Denver instructors are experiencing; an unlivable total income level in an progressively unaffordable city,” Atteberry informed Reuters by email.

The superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Susana Cordova, suggested at the outset of renewed contract talks on Tuesday the district was moving toward teachers’ demands for simplifying the present pay structure.

“Many of the things I think we hear our teachers grumble about, actually, aren’t’ about the proposal that we’ve put on the table,” she said. “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