Denver Public Schools, teachers union reflect on life after teacher strike

DENVER -- As Denver Public Schools gets ready to send students back to class, both the superintendent and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association reflected on the relationship between teachers and the district after last year's teacher strike.

In February, teachers across DPS went on strike when the two sides failed to reach an agreement on teacher salaries, pay structure and other issues. Teachers picketed for 3 days and on the morning of the fourth day, the district and DCTA reached an agreement.

In the months that have followed, Superintendent Susana Cordova and DCTA President Rob Gould said the relationship between the two sides has improved significantly.

In an interview with FOX31, Gould said the strike taught the district and the DCTA to listen better, problem solve and better communicate their needs.

"We have been able to have better dialogue because of the strike and where we are and not just what teachers need but what students need," said Gould.

Gould said the strike helped in both teacher retention and recruitment. With high salaries, Gould said there was less turnover this year. At a recent event for new teachers, Gould said he heard from several teachers that they wanted to work for DPS after watching the teachers' strength and unity during the strike.

"There were a couple that stood out to me that said 'I am from Georgia,' 'I am from South Carolina. Back there I didn’t have a union and here we saw what you were doing on TV and we got excited and we wanted to be a part of it.' It blew me away a couple of times there," said Gould.

Cordova echoed shared similar sentiments with Gould about the improved relationship. Cordova said moving forward, lessons learned from the teacher strike will continue to help maintain a collaborative relationship between the district and the DCTA.

The current contract expires in three years. Cordova believes the two sides will avoid a strike in three years by building on the lessons learned in the strike.

"Frankly I think the more we can collaborate leading up to the negotiations, the stronger our position will be for us to be able to work together and get to an agreement faster," said Cordova.

Denver Public School students begin class Aug. 19.

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