Inside one big district’s debate over teacher rights and innovation schools

By: | March 11, 2022

A sweeping proposal that would shore up teacher job protections, standardize school calendars, and even ban busywork has divided Denver teachers, principals, and parents.

Changes drafted by two school board members would diminish autonomy for at least one-quarter of Denver schools and boost the board’s control over how schools operate. If passed later this month, the proposal would chip away at controversial policies of the previous reform era.

The most heated debate centers around how the proposal would affect Denver’s semi-autonomous innovation schools. Principals say that limiting their flexibility endangers the unique programming that makes their schools work well, and some parents are deeply alarmed. Many teachers and the union that represents them say all educators deserve the same rights and dismiss the idea that innovation itself is under attack.

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