Photo above: Members of your DCTA Bargaining Team
Help keep the heat on DPS during this season’s bargaining sessions
Hopefully, your summer will be filled with days at the pool, trips to far-off places and eventually, anxious anticipation for the start of school in the fall. But for members of DCTA’s Bargaining Team, summer will mean more time at the negotiating table as DCTA and DPS move forward to finalize a new contract. But not to worry, in between strategizing and negotiating, team members will squeeze in family and fun time.
“We have a whole lot of dedicated folks working this summer to ensure our teachers are treated right,” said Rob Gould, chief spokesperson for the Bargaining Team. “We’ve made some terrific strides advancing our very reasonable demands but there’s still a lot of work ahead.”
Bargaining Sessions are scheduled throughout the summer, Gould said. The first session of the summer occurs tomorrow night, June 22 at McKinley-Thatcher Elementary School from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Other meetings currently scheduled include July 24, July 25 and Aug. 7 – 10. All sessions will occur at McKinley-Thatcher.
The work of the Bargaining Team is challenging and time consuming, but worth every minute of time away from leisure. But the work is amplified tenfold when teachers and supporters attend Bargaining Sessions and vocalize their concerns. Please make it a point to spend some time at the sessions this summer.
“Our master contract is the basis on which we will succeed or fail as teachers,” said first-year team member Bill Weisberger. “If we don’t have tough limits on class size and work load. If we don’t explicitly state how much support from SSPs our students need to be successful. If we don’t have a way to push back against evaluations that punish teachers who work their hearts out, we’re never going to be successful in our classrooms.”
Bill just finished his fourth year as an 11th-grade science teacher at Bruce Randolph, but he’s moving to Rome, Italy next year to teach IB Chemistry in an international school. Although he’s excited about the upcoming opportunity, he’s going to miss his colleagues and work in Denver.
“I’m proud to work on the Bargaining Team, which is paramount to all of our success as teachers,” he said recently.
Bargaining Team member Lynne Valencia-Hernández echoes Bill’s sentiment, albeit with 15 additional years of experience to inform her opinions. A teacher with DPS for 19 years, Lynn is also the previous vice president for DCTA. She teaches English at Thomas Jefferson High School and brings a historical perspective to her role on the team.
“I know first-hand that education is the greatest equalizer, and being an activist to preserve public education will in turn strengthen our democracy,” she said recently. “Our Master Contract is the oldest teaching contract west of the Mississippi. A strong contract ensures a secure learning environment for our students. Every member before me stood up to have their voice heard to ensure that our students receive the best educational opportunities and I owe every member beyond me the security to defend and improve our contract.”
Lynn is most frustrated with what she sees as the “waste” of resources within DPS.
“I see so much waste and top-heavy practices across the district and so few resources that are solely secured for our students,” she said. “For example, the 900 Grant admin building is still sitting empty and for sale while our central offices are packed with personnel that never encounter our students or their true needs.”
Ten-year teaching veteran Jane Lineman also serves on the Bargaining Team and believes a sense of fairness and equity must be brought to bear during the bargaining process.
“I believe in a positive work setting,” she said. “I believe the Bargaining Team helps me be aware of our needs and provides an opportunity to support positive growth among professionals and systems. I value the accountability and protections that the contract provides to members.”
Of course, the work of the Bargaining Team would be incomplete and much less effective without the strong support of DCTA members and others in the community. Attendance at Bargaining sessions throughout the year has been strong and must continue throughout the summer in order to strengthen our negotiating position. Thus far, according to Gould, this has been the “best bargaining season” he’s ever seen.
“Because teachers have been there and been engaged in the process, the district has gone from ‘no’ to ‘we’re gonna take this back and come back with something to address your concerns,’” he said. “I feel like we’ve made more movement in the last several months than we’ve made in the last five years.”
Keep up the pressure this summer and attend as many of the upcoming Bargaining Sessions as possible! Stay informed of the next meeting by visiting DCTA’s website – and look for updates via our Facebook page.