Negotiations between Denver Public Schools (DPS) and Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) are as heated as ever, with the performance pay plan known as ProComp still at stake:
Denver Public Schools officials want an overhaul they say will better attract and retain talented teachers.
The union says the current plan is fair to all teachers but that the DPS proposal would favor beginning teachers over veterans.
Three days of mediation are set to begin Aug. 20, and the union has told teachers to prepare for a strike if no agreement is reached.
In essence, the district’s proposal is too radical for the union, which thrives on its perceived role as a defender of teacher security and must appease many of the more veteran teachers who won’t be eligible for pay increases as large as other teachers. This is the basic problem with DCTA’s leadership. Not that DPS is being stingy in how much it’s offering to teachers as a whole, but the possibility exists for a great disparity in how much individual teachers gain based on a combination of their skills, performance levels, job descriptions, and willingness to serve in challenging school environments.
In DCTA’s book, equal outcomes trump a chance at pursuing excellence:
Union president Kim Ursetta said the district’s plan amounts to “a quota system” because it does not give the same opportunity for every teacher.
Clever and misleading labels aside (“quota system”?) – Not every teacher has the same opportunity to take on additional responsibilities. Not every teacher has the same opportunity to contribute to increases in student achievement. Not every teacher’s set of skills have the same scarcity or are in the same demand by the district and the parents and taxpayers it represents. You can’t blame DCTA leaders for doing their job, though.
But some teachers are worried so much about their union representatives’ approach and the threat of a possible strike (which could even disrupt the Democratic National Convention here in a couple weeks) that they’ve created Denver Teachers for Change, which includes an online petition already signed by more than 250 Denver teachers. The petition expresses support for the principles espoused in DPS’ proposal to make a more progressive ProComp.
Reading between the lines of DCTA president Kim Ursetta’s recently posted letter, it would appear that the union is losing the public argument and whatever position of strength it had. Read the first sentence carefully:
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association finds it outrageous that Superintendent Michael Bennett [sic] continues to try to directly negotiate with teachers and try to sell the Denver Public Schools’ bargaining positions to the public.
What gall to write as if these tactics are unknown to the union, and what spin to write as if these tactics are somehow illicit or unfair to anyone outside DCTA leadership. Wow. As of today, I am more hopeful that this showdown will not carry ProComp down the path to an untimely demise, but that DPS and Michael Bennet and education reform success just might prevail.
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