DCPS teachers protest against insufficient salary increases and other issues during a March 3 rally at Freedom Plaza in Northwest. (Edward C. Jones)
DCPS teachers protest against insufficient salary increases and other issues during a March 3 rally at Freedom Plaza in Northwest. (Edward C. Jones)

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Dozens of city teachers took to the streets to protest after the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) members voted unanimously to reject the latest D.C. Public Schools compensation package.

In her opening statements on Friday, March 3 at Freedom Plaza in Northwest, WTU President Elizabeth Davis said the offer fell short of the salary increases that D.C. teachers and related service providers want and deserve.

“If D.C. wants to stop the teachers churn in our schools and cultivate and retain the best and brightest teachers, the city needs to play fair and pay fair,” Davis said. “Our students, our schools and our teachers deserve better.”

Davis said city teachers have not had a pay raise in six years.

“While school district officials like to claim that teachers in D.C. are among the best-paid in the country, the National Council on Teacher Quality, December 2014 report, Smart Money, shows that the average teacher in D.C. ranks 32nd in pay compared to other cities when you add in the cost of living,” she said. “Even when you add in bonuses that are available to a select number of teachers, D.C. teachers are still not number one as DCPS has suggested.

“The school district acts like these bonuses, which are based on test scores and other biased measures, are universal — they are not,” Davis said. “According to the District’s own numbers, the average bonus is less than $2,500, not $20,000. So when you hear about the high bonuses paid to a few teachers, it is not referencing the bulk of teachers, just a select few.”

WTU officials collaboratively joined with other city leaders at the rally including Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO Executive Director Carlos Jimenez, who assured union members that the D.C. labor movement “is standing with you.”

Activist and clergyman Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Northeast emphasized that teachers “deserve our respect and support.”

“They are the people who nurture and teach our children,” he said.

Elizabeth Falcon, executive director of DC Jobs With Justice, parent Peter McPherson and several teachers also backed the union during the rally, which finished in front of the John A. Wilson Building — the office location for Mayor Muriel Bowser and Councilman David Grosso, chair of the council’s education committee.

Davis said the union will continue to advance contract proposals that will, among other things, increase support for students, provide for a timely grievance procedure that is fair to teachers, and give WTU members the pay increases they deserve — and have earned.

“We are asking that DCPS and the mayor find the money to fund pay raises for teachers that are fair — and settle the contract now so that we can begin our real work together to fix our schools and save them from the war on public education ahead,” she said.

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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