WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) held a rally at the Anacostia Metro Station on Monday asking for a new contract.
DCPS teachers have been working without a contract for three years. WTU has been trying to negotiate, but they have been unable to reach an agreement with city leaders. The next step involves an arbitrator deciding between the two.
Ward 8 councilmember Trayon White (D) came out to show his support.
“We know that the D.C. budget has increased a billion dollars every year, for five years,” said White. “It’s criminal that you have to come work as hard as you do — provide supplies and support — both mentally and physically to our babies, and not get paid justly for it.”
White says he is sending a letter of support to Mayor Bowser on the union’s behalf.
“The mayor has said she wants to make this a city for educators. We agree with her, but it’s going to take more than words it will take action. That action is a contract,” said Jacqueline Pogue-Lyons, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union.
Teachers say the contract is needed now more than ever. Pogue-Lyons says out of 629 teachers surveyed, 69% percent say they have considered leaving teaching.
“We have one of the highest turnover rates in the country. One-fourth to a third of our teachers leave, and only twenty percent of our teachers make it to five years of teaching,” said Pogue-Lyons.
Teachers believe the high turnover could be minimized by a more competitive salary.
“Teaching is a 24/7 job. Our salary doesn’t reflect the work that goes into this job,” said teacher Shaunta Morris.