Dozens of DCPS teachers braved the rainy weather on the morning of May 5 to demand a new and re-negotiated contract with the school system. The crowd’s chants dominated the typically quiet ambiance of Tenleytown, demanding attention from all passerby.
Their protest was directed towards the Chancellor of DC Public Schools Kaya Henderson, due to the lack of a raise for DCPS teachers since 2012. Woodrow Wilson High School, Alice Deal Middle School, and Ben W. Murch Elementary School teachers were present, calling for a negotiation in their new contract. A meeting to change DCPS teachers’ contract has been stalled by Henderson, and the Washington Teacher’s Union has yet to come to an agreement in teachers’ pay. Although teachers are able to receive raises based on their effectiveness in educating students, or their years of employment as a teacher, they haven’t seen an impactful collective raise in four years.
The president of the Washington Teacher’s Union, Elizabeth A. Davis, put out a statement on the WTU website saying, “On April 6, 2016, after WTU rejected the last offer for pay raises that Chancellor Henderson had put on the table, Geo Johnson, the Mediator, excused himself from the bargaining table with the promise that he would return upon request.” Davis says that the Chancellor has suspended the contract negotiations without any notification or agreement on the WTU’s part.
Mass Media teacher Kadesha Bonds attended the protest because she “would like to see a fair contract offered” to teachers by DCPS.
“Ms. Henderson and her office as well as other city workers receive a four percent raise increase each year, why can’t we receive the same?” said Bonds. “We’re not asking for anything crazy, just fair pay for the work we’ve done and are doing.”
In response to the requests from DCPS teachers and WTU, DCPS says, “DC Public Schools has been working in good faith to negotiate a new contract for our teachers for the last several years. We are disappointed that we have not made more progress to date but we hope to resume negotiations in the near future.”
“We work hard and deserve fair pay…if I can be there to support the union in any way, I’m there. If I can continue to protest, I’m there,” says Bonds.
PHOTOS BY JACKSON FOX-BLAND