A Season of Strikes?

If teachers do indeed vote to strike, the DCTA strike will be the first strike conducted in the DPS district and will affect 71,000 students.

 

The 2018 calendar year began with at least three major teacher strikes. These strikes all called for the same action: school districts needed to raise salaries for grade school teachers. Now in 2019, the strikes continue. Currently, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which consists of approximately 5,300 teachers, is likewise demanding a higher teacher salary. The DCTA has not officially begun a strike yet, but they are on the brink of one. 

According to the National Review, West Virginian teachers staged a nine-day walkout in Feb. 2018. They demanded a 5 percent pay raise, and by the end of the walkout, the district increased salaries by $2,000 per year. In April of 2018, the Arizona teacher’s strike resulted in a 20 percent pay raise from Republican governor Doug Ducey. In the ongoing Los Angeles strike, teachers are demanding a 6.5 percent pay raise.

Illustration by
Lee O’Dowd

A major difficulty of being a teacher is a stagnant salary. Unlike most professions, in which workers are compensated for economic inflation, teachers have consistently earned an average salary of less than $50,000 per year.

In Denver, where a comfortable living standard for a family of four is nearly double that of a teacher’s salary, many DCTA teachers struggle economically to survive day-to-day. The Denver Post reports that Denver Public School teachers regularly work extra jobs, which include food delivery, driving for Lyft, and working at summer camps. Many teachers also still live with roommates in order to afford housing prices. One teacher recollects an instance in which she was forced to sleep in her car in the school’s parking lot when she rented out her home for Airbnb.

On Friday, Jan. 18, DSP teachers participated in a 12-hour long negotiation with the school district for a 12.5 percent increase in their base salary, according to Chalkbeat and the Denver Post. The teachers’ union planned to vote again on Saturday, Jan. 19 and on Tuesday, Jan. 22, on whether to strike officially. The earliest date that a strike could begin is Monday, Jan. 28.

If teachers do indeed vote to strike, the DCTA strike will be the first strike conducted in the DPS district and will affect 71,000 students. However, Deputy Executive Director of the DCTA Corey Kern says that the union will not release any further information regarding the potential strike until the voting concludes on Tuesday.

According to Superintendent Susana Cordova, the district is planning to continue negotiations with the union. Presently, Cordova proposes to cut $10 million in administrative costs. These funds will be allocated to teacher salaries, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and food service workers.

Kris Valdez, a physical education teacher at Columbian Elementary, states, “This is about solidarity of all the workers for the district … Now we’re coming together and seeing we have a lot of power when we unite.”

Ellen Loucks

Ellen Loucks

Ellen Loucks, class of 2021, is majoring in the humanities. She is from Champaign, IL, and is passionate about delivering authentic and reliable news to readers. She intends to pursue a career in writing following college.

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