Denver teachers and union representatives rally at the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 30, 2018, as a strike looms. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

By Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado

The Denver teacher strike was, at its core, a fight for higher pay. But it was also a backlash against controversial school district policies, ballooning bureaucracy, and a sense that the powers-that-be weren’t listening to teachers.

Amid all of that, a battle cry that originated with black education activists in Denver began catching on with teachers and the parents supporting them: “Flip the board.” The message was written on signs, appended in hashtags to social media screeds, and shouted at rallies.

“Flip! The! Board!” teachers chanted. “Flip! The! Board!”

MORE: Denver teachers are heading back to class, but their strike revealed a national divide over bonus pay

The message is a reference to the Denver school board, a seven-member body that sets district policy and acts as boss to the superintendent. For the past decade and a half, a majority of them have agreed with a set of policies — such as paying teachers based on merit, closing struggling schools, and opening new charter schools — that have made Denver Public Schools a nationwide exemplar for a certain brand of education reform.

But those same reforms fueled the frustration that drove many teachers to picket. The call to “flip the board” represents a desire to elect members who think differently.


Chalkbeat Colorado

Twitter: @ChalkbeatCO