Denver teachers strike over pay disputes

12 February, 2019, 14:38 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Denver school leaders, teachers negotiate trying to avoid strike

It's an issue that proved to be a lightning rod for teacher unions, who fiercely oppose performance pay systems. "Red pen" teachers have been marching every weekend across France, Tunisian teachers have been on strike since October, New Zealand primary school teachers are threatening to resume their walkouts and similar struggles have erupted on virtually every continent over the course of the past year.

At Skinner Middle School in northwest Denver, the "classroom" for the entire seventh-grade is a first-floor auditorium with wooden seats. The New York Times reported that performance-based bonuses are at the heart of the dispute, with teachers protesting fluctuations and disparities in incentive pay.

Merely hiring substitute teachers won't satisfy the school district's obligations under federal law to comply with individualized education plans, the lawsuit says.

Cordova said students at schools she visited were working in classrooms, overseen by adults.

Some parents joined picketing parents with signs of their own outside Skinner, including Mary Harmon, who has two children at Skinner and one at North High School.

She said district officials reported that the school was calm by early afternoon.

However, Polis, a Democrat, said the state could intervene and suspend the strike for up to 180 days if the walkout drags on. "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.

Police held traffic as the group crossed intersections. Onlookers also watched from nearby offices or the sidewalk.

The school district said it's listening to teachers' concerns and made a series of offers to the union - all of which have been rejected.

Denver teachers went on strike Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay in the latest example of educator discontent, following a wave of walkouts over the a year ago.

On Monday morning, educators formed picket lines outside schools across the city, KCNC-TV reported, and are planning to rally outside the state Capitol at 2 p.m. But the talks went nowhere, meaning up to 92,000 students will go to school without their teachers indefinitely.

Science teacher Abraham Cespedes said Denver educators were empowered by recent teacher activism and strikes from Arizona to West Virginia. When the strike became a real possibility, school officials began recruiting substitutes with a special education background, he said, adding that the lawsuit appears to be "based on speculation" that students will be harmed.

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Although teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a right to walk off the job.

Denver teachers went on strike Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay.

Union leaders told reporters they were frustrated with failed talks over the weekend aimed at reaching a deal.

Denver teachers have gone on strike after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay.

It's the latest in a long line of teachers' strikes that spread across the country last year and keeps gaining momentum this year.

Under the compensation system, teachers are given financial incentives to teach hard-to-staff subject areas and schools. The largest struggles were by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona, initiated by the rank-and-file, not the unions.

Both sides met Saturday in a final attempt to reach a new contract after over a year of negotiations.

The two sides will return to the negotiating table Tuesday.

Teachers picket outside East High School.

The DCTA says 93% of participating members backed a strike in a vote last month.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association released a statement after the meeting saying the district's proposal lacks transparency and "pushes for failed incentives for some over meaningful base salary for all".

"I am extremely disappointed that the DCTA walked away from the table", Superintendent Susana Cordova said late Saturday.

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