Protest Watch

East Student Caught in Chaos Rips DPS Over Denver Teachers' Strike

A Facebook photo of Chloe Theil.
A Facebook photo of Chloe Theil. Facebook
As we enter day three of the 2019 Denver teachers' strike, a positive sign has surfaced: a joint statement from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association union and Denver Public Schools free of the ongoing acrimony epitomized by their recent posturing about how many educators are participating in the walkout.

But a solution can't come soon enough for one East High senior, whose busy-work schedule was prominently featured in our February 11 post about chaos at school. Now that student, Chloe Theil, is sharing her own account of what happened — and she puts DPS on blast.

"The district needs to know how largely this is affecting all DPS schools and give up their selfish ways," she writes. (Read her full account below.)

On February 12, DCTA and DPS reps met for another bargaining session, and while neither side declared a breakthrough, the aforementioned statement, issued late in the day under the signatures of superintendent Susana Cordova and union president Henry Roman, hints at progress.

It reads in part: "Today, Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association worked in good faith to find common ground on ProComp [the teacher compensation system at the heart of the dispute]. We exchanged proposals that are moving us closer and are hopeful that we will get to an agreement soon. However, we need a little more time to resolve the outstanding issues...."

The union's separate recap was less polite, maintaining that "in a growing show of our strength, even more educators joined their colleagues on the picket stand up for the schools their students deserve. Students at North, East, West and other high schools chose to stand in solidarity with their teachers and walk out of school to join picket lines and marches."

click to enlarge East High students flooding the hallways on day one of the Denver teachers' strike. - YOUTUBE
East High students flooding the hallways on day one of the Denver teachers' strike.
Theil is clearly on the side of the teachers — and she's also disgusted by what's currently passing for education at East, which, like other DPS schools, remains open during the strike, with administrators and substitutes filling in for demonstrating educators. On February 11, the first day of the strike, those subs had so little authority that students flooded out of classrooms, turning East's hallways into impromptu party zones.

Here's how Theil describes what went down, and what's happened since then:
I was told that there would be "rigorous lesson plans" by the subs when I came to school.... After receiving this schedule and heading to my first class, my teacher was not even a teacher. She worked at DPS and had no experience at all.

No students are learning anything at the moment, just sitting in class on their phone or doing their own work for the actual classes that we need OUR teachers for.

When the videos of the chanting and singing in the hallways broke out, I read that some people felt East needed to "do better" because it was immensely irresponsible and that we don't value our education. But I have never been more thankful to be in a community that stands up....

There was no structure or control within that building and it should be known that we will not cooperate as long as our teachers are not getting what they deserve.

At the moment, I feel that going to school is useless, and it will feel that way until I get my teachers back. The district needs to know how largely this is affecting all DPS schools and give up their selfish ways. We will not go down without a fight!!
Talks between Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. today, February 13, at the Denver Public Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway.

Teachers demonstrating outside East High School on February 11. - DENVER7 VIA YOUTUBE
Teachers demonstrating outside East High School on February 11.
Denver7 via YouTube
Here's the DCTA's schedule for today:

6:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. — Educators picket at schools across Denver.

Primary Picket Sites

Montbello High School: 5000 Crown Blvd, Denver, CO 80239

East High School: 1600 City Park Esplanade, Denver, CO 80206

8:15 a.m. — March from Montbello High School to Intersection of Montebello to Gateway

Teachers will demonstrate at the intersection until 10:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. — Denver educators will sit back down at the table with DPS.

10:00 a.m. — Educators and community members in the southwest will march from Pasquinel's Landing Park (801 W Evans Ave, Denver, CO 80223) and demonstrate at the intersection of Broadway and Evans.

1:00 p.m. — Rally at Civic Center Park.

2:00 p.m. — Educators will march to the DPS administration building (1860 Lincoln Ave) where they will deliver Valentines to the office of Superintendent Susana Cordova.

Across Denver

DCTA will operate community food banks to assist families affected by the strike. Non-perishable donations may be delivered and families may receive goods from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the following locations:

Northwest — Denver Firefighters Local 858, 12 Lakeside Ln.
Northeast — IBEW Local 111: 5965 E 39th Ave.
Southwest — National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 47: 5151 W 1st Ave.
Southeast — Unite Here Local 23: 5303 E Evans Ave., # 302

Denver Public Schools has closed Early Childhood Education centers across the district. For families affected by this closure, Highlands United Methodist Church will work to provide childcare and lunch for thirty students from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. DCTA will provide two fully supplied ECE classrooms with DPS teachers volunteering their time. Families can find out more information and sign up at here.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts