Denver teachers

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) is ending their strike after finalizing a deal with Denver Public Schools (DPS) on Thursday.

According to the Denver Post, teachers who went on their first strike in 25 years, protesting low pay in one of America’s most expensive cities, will now return to work after winning a deal they view as favorable. Some of the highlights of the deal include an average raise in base pay of 11.7 percent starting next year, $23.1 million in pay raises, an end to bonuses for top-level DPS administrators, and a “20-step” salary schedule that begins at $45,800 and tops out at $100,000.

Teachers inked the deal with DPS after 19 hours of negotiations — the longest-ever bargaining session in DPS history.

“This is a victory for Denver kids and their parents and our teachers,” DCTA lead negotiator Rob Gould told the Post. “Educators in Denver Public Schools now have a fair, predictable, transparent salary schedule. We’re happy to get back to work.”

While teachers are happy to return to their classrooms, students are also eager to get back to learning. The Post reported that on the second day of the strike, substitute teachers DPS called in didn’t do much classroom instruction, and mostly showed movies and gave students crossword puzzles. The strike was popular with students, and in at least one Denver-area high school, students were seen having solidarity demonstrations in hallways, chanting “pay our teachers.”

Better pay was one major sticking point for DCTA educators, given the abnormally high cost of living in Denver. In August of 2018, real estate site Hotpads estimated that the combined cost of both housing and child care based on median rent data in Denver was more than $40,000/year. A teacher making the average salary of $45,000/year for DPS (according to data from Glassdoor) doesn’t much left for other basic necessities after paying for those two expenses.

The success of the DCTA strike comes on the heels of the successful Los Angeles teachers’ strike, in which 30,000 striking educators teaching approximately 500,000 students in the second-largest school district in the United States won many of their demands. Those demands included better pay, smaller class sizes, increased regulation of charter schools, and more support staff in classrooms.

Teachers in Oakland, California are expected to strike by the end of the month unless educators and the school district agree to a deal favorable to both parties. Educators voted overwhelmingly to strike earlier this month by a margin of 95-5.


Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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