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As Possible Strike Looms, Retired DPS Teacher Reflects On 1994 Strike

DENVER (CBS4) - In 1994 many Denver Public Schools had teachers lined up outside picketing, demanding better compensation. That was 25 years ago, when Mark Smith was just a few years into his teaching career at Lake Middle School.

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"When the first strike happened I had a 4 year old, and I had just had a new baby. You got to feed them," he told CBS4's Dominic Garcia.

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Mark Smith (credit: CBS)

Smith, who's now retired, said that's why he crossed the picket line and continued to work. He says he sees both sides when it comes to striking and people need to understand although everyone affected may be teachers, they're all at different points in their lives.

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"Depending on where you are in your career, older teachers will say 'Yeah, we need to give up a paycheck.' New teachers who are just living paycheck to paycheck, it probably stresses them out to no end," he said.

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As for the current situation, both sides will meet again on Thursday and Friday. The union has scheduled a vote for Saturday, but would wait until after the holiday weekend on Tuesday to complete the process. A strike would not begin until the end of the month.

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Smith says bottom line, no matter how it happens, teachers need to be paid better.

"People need to make a living, and they need to survive. It's a well-known fact teachers are underpaid. Are we getting paid for what our education and what our value to society is? No. Will we ever get paid to what our value to society is? Probably not."

RELATED: 'Closer To Striking Than Striking A Deal': Teachers & DPS Continue Negotiations

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