Denver schools, union await state's response on possible teachers' strike
- The Denver Public Schools is waiting to hear whether the Colorado Department of Labor will intervene in the contract dispute with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA). The district asked the state last week to get involved, saying the union’s plans to strike will result in lost instructional time and could interfere with students’ ability to receive meals — even though schools will remain open.
- DCTA, which had planned to strike on Monday, will wait to hear the state’s decision. If the state chooses not to get involved, the union can strike. Meanwhile, the union has planned a march at the state capitol on Wednesday.
- Also on Monday, Virginia Educators United — which includes teachers, administrators, other education personnel, parents and community members — was planning a #RedforEd march and rally at the state capitol, as the prospect of more work stoppages continues to spread. The Oakland Education Association, which represents teachers in the Oakland Unified School District in California, is also set to begin voting on a strike on Tuesday.
A strike in Denver would likely renew interest in pay-for-performance programs. A major issue for DCTA is the school district’s ProComp system, a groundbreaking pay-for-performance initiative supported with a property tax increase passed by Denver’s voters in 2005. Teachers argue that the system — which is meant to attract and retain high-quality teachers to high-poverty schools and hard-to-staff subject areas — is too complex, and that it’s difficult for teachers to predict their income from year to year. DCTA’s proposal calls for higher overall pay for teachers as a way to stem turnover.
The Rose Community Foundation, which provided funding for the initial pilot of the program, also funded an evaluation of ProComp a few years ago and concluded that there was room for improvement, such as making it easier for teachers to see the connections between the work they do and the bonuses they receive.
“Teachers perceive that the program misses opportunities to honor important attributes of excellent teachers linked to student performance — commitment to the classroom, experience, and going above and beyond to support students, regardless of their abilities,” Janet Lopez, a senior education program officer for the foundation, wrote in a 2016 op-ed.
While pay-for-performance systems are controversial, especially when they include rewarding teachers for higher student achievement, some research has shown that such initiatives can create a stronger pool of candidates for teaching positions. A 2017 study of the Teacher Incentive Fund across 10 districts also found a positive, but small, connection to higher student test scores. Other research, however, has found mixed results.
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