Teachers strike to protest over state funding for class sizes and compensation

Teachers in eight local associations from WEA Fourth Corner have voted to stage one-day strikes against the Legislature next week, and other locals are considering taking some sort of action as well.
The regular Legislative session ends April 26, and current budget proposals fail to fully fund I-1351’s smaller class sizes or competitive professional pay and benefits for school employees. On Saturday, April 25, WEA is organizing a big education rally on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia. Register here!Here is the WEA Fourth Corner news release about the local actions against the Legislature:

Teachers to strike over school funding, lack of state support

IMG_2293More than 2,600 teachers from eight school districts have voted to stage one-day strikes over the state Senate’s failure to fully fund K-12 public schools and to protest Senate proposals that harm students and blame teachers.

Arlington, Lakewood and Stanwood-Camano teachers will strike April 22. Bellingham and Ferndale teachers will strike April 24. Teachers in Mount Vernon, Blaine and Sedro-Woolley have approved strikes, but haven’t selected days yet.

“Instead of making the investment in public education that our children need and the Constitution mandates, the state Senate majority is lowballing the schools budget and passing bills that scapegoat teachers,” said Shirley Potter, president of the Bellingham Education Association. “We’ve had enough.”

Teachers are protesting Senate votes to:

  • Increase class sizes in grades 4-12 and in high-poverty schools (and to put I-1351 back on the ballot this fall, even though voters approved it just six months ago)
  • Mandate the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations (a policy that isn’t based on research and that doesn’t help kids or their teachers)
  • Shortchange teacher pay and benefits (state funding for educator pay and benefits hasn’t increased in six years, yet Senators are getting an 11.2 percent raise)

Teachers have less time to teach and fewer resources, yet they have more students and more high-stakes testing than ever before, said Nyda Goldstein, a Stanwood-Camano teacher and parent. As a result, students have less time to learn – and the Republican-controlled state Senate is making things worse, not better, she said.

Goldstein said politicians in the state Senate majority caucus aren’t listening to teachers, and they’re not providing the support students and educators need to be successful.

Teachers in numerous other Washington school districts are considering similar strike votes. Thousands of educators plan to rally on the steps of the state capitol on Saturday, April 25, one day before the regular legislative session ends.

Goldstein emphasized the strikes are against the Legislature, not against local school districts, and she said local parents have been supportive.

The Washington Education Association is airing a radio spot that highlights the conflict over funding for smaller class sizes and compensation.

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