Striking teachers picketed outside of schools and marched through Denver's streets Monday as vehicle horns blared in support of the latest us walkout amid a swell of educator activism in at least a half-dozen states over the past year.
Denver schools remained open on Monday and district officials said administrators and substitute teachers would staff them.
The teachers union and Denver Public Schools met Saturday in an attempt to reach a new contract after more than a year of negotiations, but both sides left disappointed.
Meanwhile, schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said she was "extremely disappointed" that the union walked away from the table instead of continuing to work toward an agreement.
"We wanted to show our teachers that we know they are critical to our learning environment", Adriana Medina, an organizer of the sit-ins, told the World Socialist Web Site.
Denver schoolteachers are going on strike today.
The union pushed for lower bonuses for high-poverty and high-priority schools to free up more money for overall teacher pay and criticized the district for spending too much money on administration. District negotiators said the plan moved DPS closer to the union financially - but the union decried it as "deceptive".
The strike for Denver's more than 4,000 teachers is their first in 25 years.
DPS said its offer on Saturday puts $23 million in new funds into teachers' base salaries next year, and a total of $55 million over the next three years.
The district has proposed raising starting pay from $43,255 to $45,500 a year. "And so we're hoping they come to table tomorrow ready to listen so we can get back to work, because our teachers want to be in their classrooms with their kids", said Rob Gould, Denver Classroom Teachers Association spokesman. "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we heard from our teachers ... and significantly increases the base pay for all of our educators". "We're not asking for a million dollars", he emphasized, "We're asking for an extra $200 to $300 per paycheck so that I can save up, buy a house and live in my community and not jump from house to house". "What are you willing to give us?" Top union leaders like AFT President Randi Weingarten (annual salary $514,000) and NEA President Lily Eskelsen García ($414,824) are part of the richest one percent in the USA and hostile to any challenge to the concentration of wealth. She also threatened to report striking immigrant teachers for deportation and vowed to keep the schools open with substitutes at double pay.
In one school, students danced and chanted in the hallways as they walked out to demonstrate to support their teachers.
The school district said it's listening to teachers' concerns and made a series of offers to the union - all of which have been rejected. Some 1,400 employees from the central office were also brought in to fill gaps.
Influencing the pattern are the needs of parents, students, and teachers themselves.
Outside the district's schools on Monday, many students braved the cold to join their teachers in demanding fair pay. And while the pay is less than at the other school, the teacher was able to negotiate for a salary that was at least competitive with previous compensation plus the bonus. Classes for 5,000 preschool children were canceled.
According to district data, that's about half of the teachers employed. While he supports the teachers, he believes the union's handling of the negotiations was not appropriate.