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!”
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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.