Thousands of Denver teachers are on strike, and students are joining them

Teachers started their strike Monday, saying fluctuating pay every year discourages teachers from staying.

Denver (CNN)An army of Denver teachers braved freezing temperatures Monday, sacrificing pay to strike for a better future.

But even though this strike focuses on teachers' salaries, students joined them on the picket lines, saying their teachers deserve better.
"It's like they make school fun. They make you want to be there," 16-year-old Xavion Davison said.
He and friends Allen Koncsik and Bryce Alexander carried a large sign proclaiming, "They deserve more than just praise. Give them a raise."
    Denver teachers say they want higher, stable salaries, since their school district uses unpredictable bonuses to compensate for low base pay.
    "My pay has been too variable over the last several years," teacher Nick Childers said.
    "Unfortunately bonuses are really variable, and we can't depend on them from year to year," social studies teacher Nick Childers said.
    Ninth-year teacher Kelsey Brown said the bonuses are so erratic, she made more money two years ago than she does now.
    The Spanish teacher made $56,000 last year, but the rising cost of living in Denver means she has to work extra jobs -- as a lacrosse coach, exchange program coordinator and summer camp employee.
    Now, after 15 months of failed negotiations between the school district and teachers' union, educators are ditching classrooms to march up and down snow-lined sidewalks.
    The strike is the latest in a long line of teachers' protests that spread across the country last year and keeps gaining momentum this year.
    The Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which represents most of Denver's 5,000-plus teachers, said it doesn't want to strike -- but said the school district hasn't met their demands.
    "We're hoping for a quick solution to this whole thing," DCTA lead negotiator Rob Gould said Monday. "We're hoping (school district officials) come to the table tomorrow ready to listen so we can get back to work. Because our teachers want to be in the classrooms with their kids."
    Denver Public Schools said it's listened to teachers' concerns and made a series of offers to the union -- all of which have been rejected.
    "I am extremely disappointed that the DCTA walked away from the table," Superintendent Susana Cordova said after talks broke down Saturday night. "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we heard from our teachers ... and significantly increases the base pay for all of our educators."
    She said both sides will be back at the negotiating table Tuesday.
    "It's a problem for our kids not to have their teachers in class," she said. "So I want to get this done now."

    What both sides have put up