Last-ditch talks between the union representing teachers in Denver Public Schools and the school district broke down Saturday, and the teachers’ strike that has been in the news for several weeks, the first in Denver in 25 years, will begin Monday for about 93,000 students, the Denver Post reports.
As the Los Angeles Unified School District did during the teachers’ strike there last month, district officials in Denver say they have secured the services of more than a thousand other adults, substitute teachers and others, who will help keep schools open during the strike. Some programs, such as pre-kindergarten classes, however, will be cancelled.
If the district can’t bring in enough adults to supervise children, some school buildings will have to be closed during the strike. School officials were expected to notify any families affected by closed school buildings by Sunday evening.
The cause of the strike is teacher salaries mostly, for the moment, although the issue is more the incentives upon which teacher pay is based than on the numerical base pay. “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed at solving the teacher turnover crisis in Denver,” the paper quoted Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, as saying in a statement.
The Professional Compensation System for Teachers, or ProComp as it has come to be called, rewards teachers for student performance, for teaching in hard-to-fill schools or subject areas, and so on. It has been a part of schools in Denver since 1999, when it started as a national pilot. But it has slowly, over the course of many years, replaced more traditional foundations of the teacher pay scale: years of education, degrees attained, continuing education credits, and seniority. Denver teachers say the redirection of teacher pay into bonuses and incentives, instead of into their base pay, has forced too many good teachers out of the teaching profession.
But teachers also hope that focusing now on pay will help their coming fight for additional measures: smaller class sizes and additional support staff, the Associated Press reported.