The Kids Are Alright In Denver

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Walking out for education. Twitter photos

Proclaiming their school district "can't put students first when they put teachers last" and "I'd rather be teaching but this is important," Denver teachers stayed out on strike into a third day to protest some of the country's lowest wages, an arbitrary merit pay bonus system, corporate-driven privatization and other "reforms" they say fail to meet the needs of either teachers or students, especially low-income kids of color. The long-gestating strike, one of a record number last year by educators, has garnered support from Democrats like Warren, Sanders, and Harris as well as Democratic Socialists, who have set up a strike solidarity fund. Officials say about 2,630 teachers, or roughly 60%, went out on Monday; perhaps galvanized by Little Donnie Douchebag's ignorant "loser teacher" crack in El Paso, both more teachers and more supporters joined them Tuesday as talks dragged on. Meanwhile, three-quarters of the district's 92,000 students showed up at school; many left because classrooms were chaotic, unskilled subs were giving them busywork, or they wanted to join the picket lines.

To an impressive extent, like the gun reform and climate change movements, students - notably working class kids of color - have taken the organizing lead. In the days before the strike, over 1,000 high schoolers held discussions, protests and sit-ins to support union demands; once picket lines went up, students at one school walked out en masse and at another they held a rowdy pro-strike dance party. Officials are pushing back: Tuesday, administrators were trying to ban students from school as "agents of a media source" for sharing protest photos; the kids say they're "just trying to get the word out." They've also "started to feel our power," blasting "people in charge (who are) turning a system that’s supposed to be for us (into) a way to make profits for themselves.” Junior Jhoni Palmer is supremely cogent on the subject: “I don’t understand how not paying Denver teachers is helping us students of color. What we really need is more funding and a better curriculum." In a wealthy state and a country that seems always able to afford war, she adds, "We know the money is there - but it’s just not going to those who need it."

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