Instructor's Story Tells Both Sides of Denver Teachers' Strike

UTLA president Alex Caputo Pearl at the LA March for Public Education December 2018

Striking teachers picketed outside of schools and marched through Denver's streets Monday as vehicle horns blared in support of the latest us walkout amid a swell of educator activism in at least a half-dozen states over the past year. According to district data, that is about half the teachers employed in Denver public schools. Administrators were so overwhelmed dealing with assorted troubles at the school that they were essentially unavailable to help teachers at the classroom level, even when scenarios involving students, parents or guardians turned potentially unsafe. "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.

Now, thousands of Denver teachers are striking to roll back the system, which they say has become unwieldy and unpredictable.

"We all support the teachers", Pence said.

Science teacher Abraham Cespedes said Denver educators were empowered by recent teacher activism and strikes from Arizona to West Virginia. As required by state law, teachers gave notice last month that they planned to strike. That walkout ended when teachers received a 6-percent raise and promises of smaller class sizes and the addition of more nurses and counselors.

"You are unique here in Denver because you are just saying, 'Can I just know what I'm being paid?'" Lily Eskelsen Garcia declared at a rally outside the state Capitol.

In encouraging both sides to come to an agreement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has pointed out that this money will no longer be available to help pay teachers once it is spent on the strike. The school system canceled all early-childhood education classes.

The union is pushing to lower or eliminate some of those bonuses to free up more money that would be added to overall teacher pay.

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Denver schoolteachers are going on strike today. At the time, the school district was a pioneer in performance pay, the first large urban school system to adopt that model. "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we have heard from teachers. and significantly increases the base pay for teachers".

"I am extremely disappointed that the DCTA walked away from the table", Superintendent Susana Cordova said late Saturday. Denver teachers say the reliance on bonuses in the district leads to high turnover, which they say hurts students, and that spending money on smaller class sizes and adding support staff, like counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students learn.

"He needs to be in school to get his education, but I need to make sure he's getting a quality education", Knupp said. "We're asking for an extra $200 to $300 per paycheck so that I can save up so that I can buy a house and live in my community and not jump from house to house". Denver Public School (DPS) spokeswoman Anna Alejo said many students "chose to walk out" and school leaders did not encourage students to leave, The Post reported.

The state says a walkout will cost about $400,000 a day and would consume 1 to 2 percent of the district's annual operating budget in about a week.

The strike was on again after the administration of Polis, a Democrat, decided last week not get involved, believing the positions of both sides were not that far apart.

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

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