DENVER — While a teachers strike may be on-hold, student initiative is not.
Sophomore Zoe West organized a sit-in at the Denver Center for International Studies.
"Students should just recognize that teachers are humans, and they deserve to be able to live in Denver," Zoe said.
Students also held a "teach-in" to educate their peers about the issues that are at the core of dividing the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the teachers union, and Denver Public Schools, the district, according to Senior Jocelyne Arguelles who organized it.
At the heart of the issue is teacher pay: DPS is offering $26.5 million in raises – something that district Superintendent Susana Cordova has said averages out to around 10 percent per teacher. But the union is asking for an additional $8 million, which they say is just 1 percent of the district’s budget.
The teachers voted to strike last Tuesday, but DPS followed through with its plan to ask Gov. Jared Polis and the state labor department to intervene. The strike is on-hold while the state decides whether to intervene.
"I think the teach-in part was really, really effective because without it, I think a lot of students would like confused and be like why are they striking? Are they just being greedy? Like, so they want more money?" Arguelles said.
Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said he welcomes the student support.
"It's important for students to exercise their civic responsibility, and this is a good positive way to do it," Roman said.
The last negotiations between the union and the district was Jan. 18. Both sides have agreed to meet again on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Roman is hopeful.
"Our hope is that they take this very seriously because we want to get a deal," Roman said.
Cordova said she is excited to get back to talking.
"I'm always hopeful," Cordova said. "I think I've said repeatedly that I think good people who work hard at getting to an agreement can get to an agreement."
As far as actions at schools like DCIS, Cordova supports student involvement as long as they are getting fair information about the situation.
"My hope would be that they are able to form opinions after critical thinking about what they understand to be the issues," Cordova said.
Governor Jared Polis is still trying to determine if the state government will intervene. Polis has 12 days left in the window to decide. If he does not step in within 12 days to intervene, then a teachers strike can commence if the rekindled negotiations also fail.
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