No Other Choice: Denver Teachers Approve Strike

Over a year of negotiations fail to produce fair, predictable, competitive pay

 

DENVER – Following two days of voting involving thousands of teachers and special service providers, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association announced tonight that its members have approved a strike after negotiations with Denver Public Schools did not reach an agreement on a fair compensation system. Denver’s first teacher strike since 1994 could start as soon as Monday, Jan. 28.

 

“Denver teachers want to be in their classrooms with their students, not out on strike. But we have reached the tipping point in our negotiations with DPS where we must stand up for our profession and for our students and do what is best to keep dedicated, experienced teachers in this district,” said DCTA President Henry Roman. “A strike is the last resort. We’ve exhausted all our options. DPS has made its choice to keep critical funding in central administration, and not to apply more of those funds to the classroom where they would provide the greatest benefit for student learning. This vote shows their priorities are unacceptable to the majority of Denver teachers.”

 

DCTA has been negotiating with the district for 14 months to bring change to a compensation system that is directly linked to Denver’s teacher turnover crisis. Teacher turnover is already very high and increasing in Denver Public Schools. In fact, 31% of Denver teachers have only been in their school for three years or less. The revolving door is a crisis for kids and families who count on DPS to consistently provide a caring, qualified and experienced teaching staff at every school.

 

Noah Lederach taught in other major cities before coming to Denver to teach at Morey Middle. He now makes $15,000 less than he did teaching in Chicago, and $10,000 less than he did teaching in Indianapolis, despite teaching more than 160 students every day. “I just don’t feel like I’m valued here,” said Lederach before casting his vote on the strike. “I have to live with multiple roommates just to afford the cost of living. I was late on making my cell phone bill and car payment last month. It’s been a financial struggle adjusting to this new city.

 

“If it weren’t for the savings I came with, this would be a make-or-break situation where I would have to find a second job or find a new career,” Lederach added.

Denver teachers no longer want to be subjected to an unpredictable pay system overloaded with one-time bonuses and incentives that are outside of educators’ control and that change in size and availability year-to-year. The uncertainty in take-home pay from one year to the next does not make Denver an attractive place for teachers to settle in and plan their careers, and raise their own families.

 

“We are committed to our students. We are striking for them so they experience better classrooms, better educators and real results,” Roman concluded.