Publicado: Mier, Febrero 13, 2019
Global | Por Milagro Delgado

Denver teachers go on strike in latest wave of walkouts

Denver teachers go on strike in latest wave of walkouts

"Many of the students in this group are in need of the most critical support to maintain their health and safety, including students with severe intellectual disabilities and serious health conditions", says the lawsuit, filed Monday in federal district court by a Colorado law firm.

On Monday, thousands of teachers walked out after the Denver Classroom Teachers Association after administrators failed to come to an agreement over base pay over the weekend. Its pre-kindergarten program has been forced to close down, affecting 5,000 small children and their families. Another negotiation session is expected Tuesday.

Although teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a right to walk off the job. When do we want it? "You made us use our teacher voice!" she yelled, urging the crowd into a chorus. "Without our teachers, this world wouldn't work".

A crush of rowdy students turned the hallways of a Denver high school into a dance party on Monday - as teachers in the city went on strike for the first time in 25 years.

South High School was not alone. Currently, the compensation system called ProComp gives bonuses to staff in higher-need positions, such as teaching at a Title I school. The school retaliated by refusing the students readmittance.

Video taken by students at East High showed kids playing music and dancing in the halls. Administrators in at least one district school, Discovery Middle School, preempted such information sharing by confiscating students' cell phones, and forbidding backpacks and binders.

"There wasn't much control", said Pence, 18, who left school for the day. Outraged students revealed that they were gathered in the auditorium in the morning and given bogus "assignments" to keep them busy. While they're hopeful the strike will compel DPS to increase salaries and do away with ProComp, few teachers are optimistic that the strike will end anytime soon.

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The instances highlight the emboldened public education agenda among one of the nation's most politically powerful forces - the almost 5 million members of the two major national teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. In addition to students with autism, the strike could negatively affect hearing-impaired students and students who are "emotionally disturbed", the suit says, alleging that "DPS has not publicly put any plan in place" to care for these students.

On social media, some local substitute teachers indicated that they would refuse to cross the picket line.

The main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing Denver's incentive pay system, which started over a year ago, are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers' base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, as followed by most school districts. It appears likely it won't be the last walkout, with teachers in Oakland, Calif., moving toward a strike.

Rob Gould, lead negotiator for the DCTA, told reporters that the strike was "the last tool in our tool chest". The reason I retired is the reason they strike.

"What else do you want from us, Susana?" he asked. Teachers in Oakland have voted by 95 percent to strike as early as next week.

The Denver labor dispute follows statewide teacher walkouts previous year in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, and a six-day strike in Los Angeles settled last month with a deal to reduce class sizes and raise salaries by 6 percent.

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