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Denver teachers go on strike after failing to reach pay deal

12 February 2019

As Denver teachers take to the picket lines, Oakland, California, teachers have voted by 95 percent to strike as early as next week; West Virginia teachers and school workers have voted "overwhelmingly" to strike or engage in any work action necessary to oppose a pro-privatization education bill; Wright State, Ohio, faculty and Chicago charter school teachers are on strike. But the talks went nowhere, meaning up to 92,000 students will go to school without their teachers indefinitely.

"We're looking for a fair and reliable pay system that actually retains teachers in Denver", said Rob Gould, a special-education teacher and lead negotiator for the teachers association. The school system canceled all early-childhood education classes. "Because our teachers want to be in the classrooms with their kids".

Other recent teacher demonstrations, like the teacher walkout in Los Angeles last month, focused on more than pay, such as reducing class size and other issues more directly related to students. While they're hopeful the strike will compel DPS to increase salaries and do away with ProComp, few teachers are optimistic that the strike will end anytime soon.

The big sticking point involves teachers' base salaries.

In encouraging both sides to come to an agreement, Gov. Jared Polis has pointed out that this money will no longer be available to help pay teachers if it is spent on the strike. "I feel a little bit just nervous because it's just different, but I think our adults and kids are working really hard to make it work".

The school's executive principal, holding a flute in one hand, stands at the front of another classroom teaching a combined beginning band and concert band class fingering and rhythms.

The school district readied 300 new substitute teachers to supplement its existing roster of 1,200, NPR has reported.

At a news conference, district Superintendent Susana Cordova said negotiations will resume on Tuesday, an announcement confirmed by the union. "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we have heard from teachers. and significantly increases the base pay for teachers".

- The elimination of performance bonuses for central office senior staff. Adopted in 2009, the system tied teacher evaluations to test scores and established a pay structure that gives teachers who are rated highly effective up to $25,000 in bonuses. It comes after teachers walked off the job in Arizona and West Virginia previous year and Los Angeles teachers went on strike last month.

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It's not clear how many of DPS' 5,000-plus teachers will be absent indefinitely.

Negotiations between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and the Denver Public Schools (DPS) have dragged on for 15 months while the union has kept teachers on the job.

Union President Henry Roman explained in a statement why the DCTA turned down the offer, saying, "Teachers were stunned when DPS proposed hiking incentives instead of putting that new money into base pay where it could make the entire district more competitive". So many students will have no clue when they'll see their teachers again. But when the school ran out of the schedules, chaos ensued.

Denver schools remained open on Monday and district officials said administrators and substitute teachers would staff them.

Since teachers aren't getting paid while on strike, not every teacher who wants to strike can do so. "The teachers don't leave because they don't believe in us but because they can't afford to live", she said, adding that students will continue these demonstrations.

"When we strike, we win", Eskelsen Garcia said.

"A strike is not a first resort for anyone".

The dispensary offered a similar promotion for military veterans on Veterans' Day in November, but couldn't do much for federal employees during the government shutdown - for obvious reasons, LaBrier says.

Denver teachers go on strike after failing to reach pay deal