The striking teachers climbed in circles in front of the schools and marched through the streets of Denver on Monday as the cars resounded to support the latest US overthrow in the midst of a wave of educator activism in at least half a dozen years. States during the last year.
Just over half of the 4,725 teachers called for the first Denver strike in 25 years. Some students crossed the picket lines to go to class, with schools remaining open with administrators and alternates.
In one school, students danced and sang in the corridors, going out to demonstrate to support their teachers. Other students joined hundreds of teachers and union members during a march past City Hall.
Abraham Cespedes, a science teacher, said recent Denver teacher activists have been building teacher capacity. "In doing so, we finally became united," he said.
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The strike, which affects an estimated 71,000 students in Denver, comes about a year after the launch of the national "Red4Ed" movement by teachers in West Virginia, who received a 5-percent wage increase for nine days.
There have since been walkouts in the state of Washington, Arizona, Kentucky and Oklahoma. More recently, Los Angeles teachers staged a six-day strike last month. This walkout ended when teachers received a 6% increase, promised to reduce class sizes and recruit more nurses and counselors.
The president of the National Education Association, the country's largest teacher union, said Monday to several thousand Denver teachers and supporters that they will win.
"You are unique to Denver because you just say:" Can I just know what I'm paid for? " Said Lily Eskelsen Garcia at a rally in front of the Capitol.
The dispute concerns the school district's incentive compensation system. The city's school district provides incentives ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 3,000 per year for teachers who work with students from low-income families, in schools that are considered high priority or in hard-to-fill positions, such as Special education or speech therapy. .
The union is working to reduce or eliminate some of these premiums in order to free up more money for overall teacher compensation.
The district considers that the disputed bonuses are essential to improve the educational outcomes of poor and minority students. Teachers say that the use of bonuses leads to a high turnover rate, which is detrimental to students, and that spending money for fewer classes and recruiting support staff, such as counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students.
Some teachers have become ineligible for bonuses after their schools have lost their official status as a low-income country due to the gentrification of parts of the city.
The district has proposed to raise the starting salary from $ 43,255 to $ 45,500 a year. That's $ 300 less per year than the union's proposal, which would add $ 50 million a year to teachers' base salary, according to union officials.
At a press conference, District Superintendent Susana Cordova said negotiations would resume Tuesday, an announcement confirmed by the union.
"It's a problem for our kids not to have their teachers in class," Cordova said. "I want it to be done now, so I'm very happy that we're back at the table."
Majority House House leader Alec Garnett, a Democrat, said the strike underscored the need for lawmakers to correct conflicting laws that limit public school spending by several hundred million dollars a year.
The state said that a walkout would cost about $ 400,000 a day and would represent 1 to 2 percent of the district's annual operating budget in about a week.
The strike took place after the administration of Governor Jared Polis had decided last week not to get involved, believing that administrators and teachers were close to an agreement.
However, Polis, a Democrat, said that the state could intervene and suspend the strike for 180 days if the walkout continues. The state does not have the power to impose an agreement on both sides. But he can try to help both parties reach an agreement and can compel them to participate in a fact-finding process.