Members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association at 160 public schools initiated the city’s first teachers strike in 25 years Monday morning after Gov. Jared Polis declined to intervene in their compensation dispute and 11th-hour contract talks with district leaders fell apart over the weekend.
The strike follows 15 months of negotiations over salary centered on the decade old practice of merit pay.
Under the current contract, teachers received so-called merit based bonuses for student performance on tests in a process that was impossible for most teachers to understand.
What began last year as the Red State Teacher Revolt has spread to red states and blue states.
Last month teachers in L.A. walked out for a week demanding smaller class sizes.
Denver’s strike is targeting a key piece of corporate school reform.
The theory is that you can improve school performance without spending more money. It calls for competition for resources among teachers, pitting one against the other.
It was a nation-wide experiment in educational social-Darwinism that has now shown to be a another corporate-driven reform failure.
In Denver the project is called ProComp, agreed to by the teachers union in 2006, it was hailed as a national model. It was later incorporated nationally in programs like Race to the Top, created by Arne Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary.
ProComp and Race to the Top included more testing of students in order to gather evidence for the merit bonuses.
A win by striking Denver teachers and an end to the merit pay reform will be a win for students and parents as well, Not only will general teachers salaries improve, but the massive and bureaucratic testing system that supported the merit pay bonus plan may well be discarded.