Denver Teacher Strike- What’s Happening?

February 5, 2019

Over the past couple weeks, many questions have been raised regarding the potential teacher strike that may be happening across the Denver Public Schools district. When will this be happening? Why are teachers even striking? There are many answers to all of the concerns that have been raised. As of now, the strike has been put on pause due to the district asking for intervention from Governor Jared Polis.

 

On January 18th, the contract deciding how much teachers get paid expired, leaving teachers completely clueless of their salary and how they will pay for their groceries. 93 percent of The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) had voted for a strike that would have started on Monday, January 28th if superintendent Susana Cordova hadn’t stepped in and asked for intervention from the Governor. Jared Polis has until Monday, February 11th to decide whether or not he wants to take jurisdiction. If he chooses not to, teachers are free to strike. However, if jurisdiction is taken, teachers aren’t legally allowed to strike until jurisdiction is released.

 

Being a teacher is hard enough without the climbing costs of living in Denver. Many teachers are forced to move schools and homes in order to be able to live comfortably while pursuing their career. “I would like to live in Denver,” Ms. Wentz, a teacher here at South says. “But partially because of my salary and partially because of the living costs in Denver, that’s just not an option right now.” Wentz, having a dual-income and no children may be in a different situation than other teachers who either have kids or no partner to help pay the bills. This being said, the majority of teachers are unable to live in the district they teach in. This can be difficult for many reasons; the commute to work is much longer than necessary, and teachers are unable to be involved in the community they teach in. “I wish I was able to live down here and be involved in my community, but due to the high living costs we simply cannot afford it.”

 

Why hasn’t the district and DCTA been able to settle on a set wage for teachers? This question comes up frequently, as it really makes no sense. Almost all other jobs in the nation come with a set salary. People in the workforce are able to plan ahead and save their money because they know what their income will be at the end of each year. “It is difficult for me to tell what my salary is.” Wentz explains, “I don’t know what I get paid until I get my tax returns and my W2 tells me.”  When teachers get paid, they get a base pay which is not enough to live off of, and other incentives can be added on top of that. Teachers never really know what incentives they will be given, which is very difficult.

 

Governor Jared Polis has until Monday, February 11th to decide if he will intervene the teacher strike. Although the situation is currently at a stand still, things will be moving along very shortly and hopefully in the right direction for the teachers. Denver Public Schools district is still working hard to come to an agreement with DCTA but as of now, no conclusion has been reached.