The Prospect Heights Education Association, which represents 150 teachers, is fighting for higher wages.
The Seattle Education Association’s board of directors and its representative assembly both voted to recommend approval of the tentative agreement reached early Tuesday morning by the bargaining teams from the union and the district. And while the legality of teacher strikes was questionable, the walkouts were the only option its members have to protest, SEA says.
The district serves portions of Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, and Wheeling. Seattle teachers have not received cost-of-living raises in more than six years, despite Seattle’s skyrocketing rents.
Teacher salaries in Seattle range from about $44,000 to more than $86,000, depending on experience and education.
The three-year deal also addresses teacher evaluations, length of the school day, testing, student equality, disciplinary practices and recess, according to KING 5.
But the union’s grievances extend beyond pay.
The union met with the school board again Tuesday night and the two sides could not agree on a new contract.
Specialist caseloads: Sets limits, which union says is a first, for physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and audiologists. Teachers and observers said many of the frustrations stemmed form a perpetual lack of funding, over which Seattle has limited control. “We’re not serving our students on a numbers level-last year I had 34 kids in one class”.
The strike affects about 1,500 students at three elementary schools and one middle school. On August 13, the court announced that until the legislature complied, it would begin imposing fines of $100,000 a day. The union made a counterproposal over the weekend that called for raises totaling 9.75 percent over two years – far less than the 21 percent over three years they initially sought.
“We are eager to open schools, welcome students and begin learning”, district Superintendent Larry Nyland said in a statement.
So is this really just the state’s fault?
Alexander Rakitzis, a junior at Garfield High School, said he would be annoyed to still be in school in late June to make up for the strike, but that the teachers deserve more.
These issues are part of a larger national debate over education that’s been playing out in Seattle. The center even ordered bouncy houses. On the other side, teachers in Seattle and elsewhere have pushed back against overtesting, saying standardized tests take up valuable class time and measure racial and socioeconomic inequality better than aptitude. The WEA argues that charter schools “siphon” public funds from traditional public schools; and with a teaching force that’s largely non-union, charter schools have been seen by many labor activists as a means to weaken teachers’ unions overall.
Seattle teachers Kristin and Joe Bailey Fogarty were getting ready for a fifth day on the picket line and another day out of school for them and their daughters when they got the news.