DENVER – Today, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association reached an historic agreement with Denver Public Schools on behalf of Denver’s educators. The tentative agreement, which must be ratified by the full DCTA membership, 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. DCTA teachers may return to the classroom today. If teachers choose not to return to work, DPS has stated that they will be unpaid.
“This agreement is a win, plain and simple: for our students; for our educators; and for our communities,” said DCTA President Henry Roman, an elementary school teacher. “No longer will our students see their education disrupted because their teachers cannot afford to stay in their classrooms. We are thankful that both sides were able to come together after 15 months of bargaining to ensure our educators have a transparent salary schedule with a professional base salary scale and less reliance on unpredictable bonuses that disrupt our schools. Every Denver educator should be proud today that they accomplished something historic for their students.”
The full tentative agreement will posted on the DCTA website later today. Highlights of the agreement include an increase of between seven and eleven percent in base salary on a clear and transparent 20-step salary schedule, full cost of living increases in years two and three of the agreement, the opportunity to use professional development to move lanes on the salary schedule, and an end to exorbitant five-figure bonuses for senior DPS administrators. Both sides also agreed to a study of the effects of high priority school bonuses on teacher retention.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude for our Denver educators for being brave and bold and for standing up for Denver students and our profession,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “Denver educators didn’t just fight for their students, profession and community. They have led the way for our entire state by bringing to the forefront our students’ need for qualified, committed, and caring educators that can afford to stay in the classroom and live in the communities where they teach.”
Denver educators went on strike for our students on February 11 after 15 months of negotiations to reform the ProComp pay system with Denver Public Schools. The district repeatedly brought proposals to the table that exacerbated the problems educators were trying to fix, and did not deliver a professional salary plan that would pay all teachers a living wage and limit unpredictable bonuses that disrupt our students’ education. A breakthrough occurred on Tuesday when DPS and DCTA worked late into the night and were able to find common ground on many of the issues that have disrupted our students’ education. With the assistance of a federal mediator and a dedication to what is best for our students, both sides were able to agree on the remaining points of contention on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
“All week, the nation has looked to Denver with hopeful hearts,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “We are so proud of Denver’s educators and this historic agreement that will provide greater opportunity for Denver students and stability for their schools.”
The Denver teacher’s strike received nationwide support as part of the historic #RedForEd movement that has seen educators, students, parents and community members stand up for the schools all students deserve. Over the last year, #RedForEd strikes and walkouts have occurred in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Los Angeles, and other locations across the country. More #RedForEd strikes and walkouts across the country are anticipated in the coming weeks and months.