LIFEBOUND | Denver Teacher Strike Ends
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Denver Teacher Strike Ends

Denver Teacher Strike Ends

The teacher strike in Denver ended Thursday morning as school district officials and teachers union officials entered into a tentative agreement over the performance pay structure.

The three-day strike marked the first time educators in Denver walked the picket line in 25 years and was emblematic of teachers’ continued retreat from some of the biggest education reform policies of the last decade.

At issue was the payment structure for bonuses, which allow Denver educators to earn more for things like strong evaluations, students’ high test scores and teaching in a high-performing or high-poverty school. School district officials wanted higher bonuses for teachers in those schools as a way to stem teacher turnover, but union officials wanted the money to boost base pay, arguing the bonus structure caused uncertainty among teachers.

Under the new agreement, which invests an additional $23 million in teacher pay, educators would see an average base salary increase of 11.7 percent. The bonus structure for teachers in the highest poverty schools would increase to $3,000, and the incentives for teaching hard-to-fill positions would be set at $2,000.

Denver Classroom Teachers Association called it an “historic agreement” that “reforms a pay system which largely relied on unstable bonuses, and provides stability for students who, for the past ten years, have had their education disrupted by a compensation schedule that drove their teachers away from the district.”

The tentative agreement must still be ratified by the 5,600 members of the city’s teachers union.

The strike in Denver, Colorado‘s largest school district, was just the latest example of educator unrest sweeping the U.S. It marked the third major moment of teacher turbulence this year, after the historic six-day strike in Los Angeles that sent tens of thousands of teachers to the picket lines and an organized walkout among educators across Virginia.

The movement shows no signs of cresting. Last week, teachers in Oakland, California, voted overwhelmingly to strike after unsuccessful negotiations over pay hikes, class sizes and additional support staff, setting up a strike for any time after Feb. 15. The school district is up against a $30 million deficit and has offered a smaller salary increases than teachers are demanding.

Both sides are in a holding pattern as they await a report from the Public Employment Relations Board that’s expected Friday.

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