DENVER — The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and Denver Public Schools are negotiating their collective bargaining agreement this week.
The teacher’s union is asking the district for enhanced benefits and equity improvements for BIPOC teachers.
“We as a district have had a problem both recruiting and retaining our BIPOC educators and our students. That's something that we want to improve upon. So, today's session opened up about ways that we think we can help address some of those issues and concerns,” DPS teacher Valerie Henderson said.
Henderson has been a DPS teacher for 23 years and has children who attend Denver Public Schools. She thinks diversity, equity and inclusion training for employees should be required.
“Addressing microaggressions that BIPOC educators are facing, and then some consistency in how our Black Excellence Plan is rolled out in our schools throughout the district needs to happen,” Henderson said. “Also, as a parent who has raised three kids, two of them going through DPS, I want more educators of color in front of our kids."
State and local data shows about 70% of DPS students are students of color, while 30% of teachers are teachers of color. Teachers held a walk-in in May to call attention to the issue.
“I think it's the same issues that we have come up against over and over. It's about people's bias towards BIPOC teachers,” DPS social studies teacher Kevin Adams said.
Adams says another issue that’s impacting the district’s ability to keep teachers of all backgrounds is benefits.
“I think for educators, we want to make sure that people can afford healthcare,” Adams said.
DCTA is also asking for continued designated COVID-19 sick leave.
In a statement to Denver7 regarding negotiations, DPS Director of Talent Edwin Hudson said, "Denver Public Schools is pleased to be at the table with DCTA, as we have been with our other bargaining units, and we look forward to reaching an agreement with our teachers."
Negotiations will continue through Wednesday.