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Striking Denver teachers renew talks with school district

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Thousands of Denver public school teachers walked picket lines for a second day on Tuesday, disrupting classes for some 92,000 students as union and school district officials resumed contract talks that broke down over the weekend.

In the latest in a series of strikes to hit U.S. public school systems around the country, the 5,650-member Denver Classroom Teachers Association is seeking higher pay with a salary structure focused less on performance bonuses and more on cost-of-living increases.

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The Denver labor dispute follows statewide teacher walkouts last year in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, and a six-day strike in Los Angeles settled last month with a deal to reduce class sizes and raise salaries by 6 percent.

Talks in Denver broke down on Saturday, triggering the first walkout by teachers in Colorado’s largest city since 1994. The two sides returned to the bargaining table late on Tuesday morning.

Outside Columbian Elementary school, a dozen teachers picketed, including early childhood education specialist Traci McKeehan, 48, who said she was hopeful a deal would be reached with a more predictable pay structure. The union says the current system has led to wide individual wage fluctuations from year to year, leading to higher rates of teacher turnover.

“In Denver, we’re losing teachers left and right,” said McKeehan, who was holding a sign that read, “We’d rather be teaching.”

The Denver Public Schools district has said its latest proposal would raise teachers’ pay by nearly 11 percent next year, while the union has called that figure inflated.

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On Monday, Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova told reporters that the district has already met many of the teachers’ demands for simplifying their complicated pay structure.

“We’ve made really significant changes already,” Cordova said. “Many of the things I think that we hear our teachers complain about, actually aren’t about the proposal that we’ve put on the table, it’s about the current system. And many of those things I agree with as well.”

District officials vowed to keep all 207 schools open through the strike, staffed by substitute teachers and administration personnel. But on Tuesday the district said it canceled pre-kindergarten classes.

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The so-called ProComp pay system at the crux of the strike was initially embraced by the union when it was instituted in 2005, touted as a way of enabling teachers to build their salaries through a mix of possible incentives. Those include bonuses tied to student achievement and tougher teaching assignments, such as schools in high-poverty areas.

But the union says ProComp, one of the longest-running teacher pay schemes of its kind in the country, has instead eroded teacher pay in a city where the cost of living has soared in the past 10 years.

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday expressed support for the teachers’ pay demands and offered to help mediate the dispute.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Additional reporting by Jann Tracey in Denver and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing and additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by John Stonestreet and Matthew Lewis


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BUSTED: National Archives caught doctoring exhibit to remove criticism of President Trump from women

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The National Archives were caught editing an artifact from the Trump administration to remove criticism of the president, according to a bombshell new report in The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported on a "large color photograph" at the National Archives exhibit marking the centennial of women's suffrage.

"The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement. But a closer look reveals a different story," the newspaper noted.

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Dershowitz is running a ‘bizarro defense’ of Trump: Harvard Law colleague says ‘Alan is just completely wacko’

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Two of the most famous names associated with Harvard Law School had competing appearances on MSNBC on Friday.

It began when Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus, was interviewed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber about his new role officially representing President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.

Dershowitz claimed that neither abuse of power nor obstruction of Congress count as "high crimes" under the constitution.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has also been associated with Harvard Law for five decades, was asked about Dershowitz's argument during an interview with Chris Hayes.

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Why was Lev Parnas wearing a ‘Presidential Service Badge’ awarded to troops who serve in the White House?

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Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman posted a fascinating update about a photo of impeachment figure Lev Parnas.

The photo shows Igor Fruman -- who, like Parnas, is under federal indictment -- sitting closely next to Rudy Giuliani and Parnas.

Haber said a source informed her that in the picture, Parnas can be seen wearing a "Presidential Service Badge," linking to the Wikipedia entry on the pin.

"The Presidential Service Badge (PSB) is an identification badge of the United States Armed Forces which is awarded to members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other members of the Uniformed Services, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States," Wikipedia explained.

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