Denver students and teachers got a Valentine’s Day surprise in the early morning of February 14, when Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association came to an agreement that ended the four-day strike. The union declared victory, classes resumed, and issues including pay, incentives and staff stability were, according to both sides, significantly improved.
But salaries and security weren’t the only things that could have been won by Mile High teaching professionals. After all, in unions, there is strength. Here’s a modest proposal of ten more things that Denver teachers should have demanded.
1. Bring Back Naptime
It would be great if adults could participate in recess during the day. Better yet, let’s go all the way back to kindergarten, when everyone laid down on mats on the floor and went to sleep mid-day. Five-year-olds love it, fifteen-year-olds would embrace it shamelessly, and teachers? Move over, kid. I was up grading papers until after midnight.
2. No More Apples for the Teacher
Fruit is so nineteenth-century. You know what teachers need these days? Foot-long subs and Qdoba.
3. All Classrooms Must Have Air Conditioning
Because global warming is a thing, and science classes at public schools still teach science as though it were, you know, science. Locally, what that means is that when school is wrapping up in May and June, and especially when it starts up again in August, classrooms can be stifling. Air conditioning for all!
4. Everyone Has to Stop Saying That Teachers Get Summers Off
This would only be an effective line of reasoning if teachers were to get paid for those summer-break months — which are closer to two than three, by the way. Most teachers see it as both a perk and a curse; sure, it's nice to have some downtime, but would you want two and a half months of unpaid mandatory time off every year? Could your budget support that? Or would you, like most educators who aren't in a dual-income household with a comfortable standard of living, have to find another source of income to make ends meet? There’s a reason that Casa Bonita cliff diver looks familiar — because he’s also Señor Jonny from Spanish class.
5. Bring Back the Teacher's Lounge
And coffee urns. Couches and stuffed chairs. Occasional doughnuts on Fridays, a fridge, a sink and an attached bathroom to which students don't have access. This isn't about having a place to light up a menthol and spike the coffee in your plaid Thermos. Rather, it's about having a respectable place in which teachers could gather...no matter what's in anyone’s plaid Thermos.
6. Parents Must Attend Mandatory "Your Child Is Not Your Friend" Training Before Contacting Any Teacher With Complaints or Pedagogical Advice
This is pretty much self-explanatory.
7. Forget that: Parents May Not Offer Pedagogical Advice
And so is this.
8. Superintendent Visits Must Be Announced
At least three days in advance, please. Also, they must wear a bell around their necks at all times and hand out candy bars.
9. The District Must Provide All Supplies
Paper, pens, erasers, rulers, books, notebooks. Colored chalk, because it’s fun. And plenty of those smiley-face “Great job!” stickers, too. Actually, just some petty cash would be good; the district won’t know where to find the cool stickers.
10. Election Day: Also a School Holiday
What better way to teach kids that being a good citizen in this country starts with the right — and responsibility — to vote? Power to the people, Denver. Power to the people.
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