DPS and the DCTA got back to negotiations on Day 2 of the strike at 10am, Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Here’s what Day 1 was like through the eyes of teachers and DPS.
The Strike—By the Numbers
DPS and Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) offered different reports on the number of teachers on the picket lines.
- DCTA said 3,769 teachers and Specialized Service Providers (SSPs, nurses, psychologists, etc.) picketed.
- DPS said 42% (1,984) of the district’s 4,725 teachers reported for work—which would be 2,740 on strike. (DPS has 575 SSPs; they did not provide the number of SSPs who reported for work).
- Teachers gave us these figures for their local schools:
East – 90% picketed
McAuliffe – 80% picketed
Bill Roberts – 90% picketed
7am – East High School
The long line of picketing teachers and supporters filled the sidewalk in front of East in the below freezing weather. Many of the arriving students waved their fists in support as picketing teachers parted to let them enter the building. Stapleton resident, Anna Noble, who teaches chemistry at East says most teachers think DPS is not managing their money well. And she thinks DPS is “offering incentives that are kind of a joke. $1,000 a year is like $50 a month. It’s not going to make up for all the work they’re doing.”
Deborah Voss, also a Stapleton resident, has 8 years teaching experience, 4 years of it as a theater teacher at East. She says, “I don’t think people would be out here in freezing weather unless we’re at the breaking point. It’s the district that needs to come to the DCTA position. The overhead at the district is preposterous. Most central staff don’t need to be higher than teachers. If DPS has two things of value in this district, the property they own and the students, why are you being compensated for being pulled away from what it is that’s the reason you exist in the first place?”
Lisa Betchey, Lowry parent of an East senior says, “The parents that I know have seen our teachers give their own private funds to our kids for supplies and they work 12 hour days. They give as much as they can and more. They deserve to be valued by the community and by DPS. If this starts a larger argument of our community on TABOR and taxing the wealthy to pay for our schools, that’s the discussion our community needs to have. Can we take the next step? What kind of society do we want to have? The haves and have nots?”
8:20am – McAuliffe Middle School
Teachers said 80% went on strike at McAuliffe middle school. Margaret Flynn, a 7th grade language and literature teacher at McAuliffe and Kathryn Fleegal, an 8th grade science teacher, say they are both renters and live in other neighborhoods because they can’t afford to live in the neighborhood where they teach
8:50 am – Bill Roberts K-8
Teachers at Bill Roberts said 90% went on strike. Jaime Jackson, a second grade teacher with seven years experience and Andrea Estrada, a kindergarten teacher with 15 years experience, show a poster that illustrates how DPS departments have grown in the past 10 years. According to their information, Business Services have grown 186%, Instructional Support, 115%, and Instructional Services (teacher salaries) have grown the least, at 38%. Estrada says, “The graph shows the district has valued many positions over teacher positions. That’s what we’re striking for. We would like to be valued and we would like DPS to compensate us accordingly.
Jackson adds, “Studies show that what students need is a qualified compassionate person who can build relationships with students. If we can’t retain teachers that can’t happen.”
11:30 am – DPS Superintendent Cordova Holds a Press Conference
As news media pepper DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova with questions about the strike, she points out, “Many of the things teachers complain about actually aren’t about the proposal we put on the table. It’s about the way things are now. And many of those things I agree with.
“We’ve made really significant changes already. We’ve closed the gap because the district has brought more money to the table. Over the next two years I’ll be cutting $20 million out of the central office to help pay for this proposal. The goal of negotiations is to get closer to the middle. DPS has gone way past the middle.
“The goal tomorrow (Tuesday) is to get to a deal. And that’s going to take both parties in collaboration to get to a deal. If we scrap ProComp we’d give up $33 million dollars. That’s not something I’d ever want to do. We’re working as hard as we can to get more money. There’s no reason to walk away from $33 million that our taxpayers have already dedicated to paying our teachers, as long as we adhere to the outlines of what ProComp asks us to do. (Note: We asked union officials how they allocated the ProComp funds in their proposal but have not yet received an answer.)
“The goal is to talk as long as needed to get a deal. I want to get this done now. My goal is to spend as much time as it takes to get a deal.
2pm – DCTA Rally at the Capitol
The striking teachers gathered to hear speakers including Henry Roman, DCTA President, and Rob Gould, lead negotiator who reiterated their goals: “Reflection is the most important part of the teaching process. Today is the day for DPS to reflect on how ProComp hurts our students. Today DPS is being forced to reflect on why we have a vision for a fair and transparent salary that prioritizes base salary over complicated unreliable bonuses. Being forced to reflect on bonuses that have not been effective and students have paid the price. You – all – made – them – do – it! We are sending a strong message to the district that they can’t do our jobs without us. Denver teachers, you have woken up this city.”