As  teachers  prepare  to  strike,  Denver  Public  Schools  puts  a  stop  to  conferences  for  educators

As teachers prepare to strike, Denver Public Schools puts a stop to conferences for educators

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 8, 2019

With a strike arranged to begin in days, Denver Public Schools has forbidden its instructors and personnel from going to conferences and training workshops this week.

DPS leaders said the choice is to “ensure maximum preparedness in the event of the strike.” However teachers who prepared to participate in or speak at events on subjects such as literacy, foreign language and culturally responsive teaching stated it will prevent their professional development and hurt students in the long run.

The action by the district is “punishing the teachers for wanting to strike, is what I’m seeing,” said Stacy Lister, a kindergarten instructor at Slavens K-8 School.

Teachers are planning to strike Monday after Gov. Jared Polis declined to step in in wage negotiations in between the school district and the Denver Class Teachers Association. DPS and the union, which are about $8 million apart in their particular pay proposals, will resume bargaining Friday night.

“We made this choice in order to focus on trainees very first and in an effort to minimize the impact to guideline and trainees’ learning time with their instructors,” the district stated in an emailed declaration. “We will do everything possible to discover innovative methods to offer our teachers access to knowing later in the term.”

[RELATED: Retired teacher remembers “chaos” of Denver Public Schools’ 5- day strike in 1994]

Lister was planning to go to the CCIRA C onference on Literacy at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, having actually signed up in November. She’s gone to the event prior to, which taught her new methods to establish confidence in trainees and different learning designs.

The parent-teacher association, she stated, is paying for instructors at Slavens to attend the conference, which expense more than $200 for two days. Lister likewise reserved two hotel rooms for the occasion, which cost about $135 a night.

Now she has to cancel her plans after getting an e-mail Wednesday that said teachers are not able to participate in expert advancement workshops.

“So we can not grow as a instructor,” Lister stated.

The Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers has canceled 11 sessions at its spring conference since 13 speakers with DPS are no longer able to attend.

“We’re disappointed with this advancement,” stated the organization’s president Noah Geisel in a declaration. “I shared with DPS administrators that CCFLT hosts a nationally recognized conference known for offering exceptional professional development to aid our coworkers discover and grow and ended up being the great teachers that every trainee is worthy of.”

Teachers who spoke to The Denver Post stated they’ve heard they might face disciplinary actions — from docked pay to being fired — for going to conferences or workshops. But in a statement, DPS stated, “It is not a policy of DPS to fire or subtract pay for instructors going to trainings this week. We would not pursue disciplinary action.”

For some instructors, the snow day on Thursday offered an chance for them to go to sessions as classes were canceled.

Kelli Schnase, who teaches reading to 2nd graders at Traylor Academy, went to sessions on reading strategies and workshop designs at CCIRA.

“It actually injures if we can not share that information with our groups at the school, and it hurts my trainees,” Schnase said. “We took our snow day to go to this conference because it’s that important to all of us.”