Teachers strike in Tacoma, September 2011
Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

Teach­ers in the Lake Wash­ing­ton School Dis­trict — which serves 26,700 stu­dents in NPI’s home­town of Red­mond along with the neigh­bor­ing cities of Kirk­land and Sam­mamish — have vot­ed to walk off the job on Wednes­day, May 6th in protest of the Leg­is­la­ture’s com­plete­ly inad­e­quate response to the Supreme Court’s McCleary deci­sion, and its refusal to ful­ly fund Ini­tia­tive 1351, approved by vot­ers this fall.

The Lake Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion is the eleventh WEA local to vote to go on a one-day strike. LWEA rep­re­sents sev­en­teen hun­dred hard­work­ing teach­ers (includ­ing my father, who teach­es at Red­mond High School).

LWEA Pres­i­dent Kevin Tee­ley said in a news release that his mem­bers are par­tic­u­lar­ly upset with Repub­li­can State Sen­a­tor Andy Hill — who rep­re­sents many of them — for his irre­spon­si­ble, gim­mick-laden bud­get, which would increase class sizes for grades four through twelve, and refer I‑1351 back to vot­ers. Hill’s bud­get also lacks $370 mil­lion in pro­fes­sion­al pay and ben­e­fits than the House budget.

If that weren’t enough, teach­ers are fed up with Hill for his sup­port of a ill-con­ceived scheme to require stu­dent test scores to be used in teacher evaluations.

Tee­ley was blunt in assign­ing blame where blame belongs.

“Sen­a­tor Andy Hill, who wrote the Sen­ate bud­get, pulled his kids out of Lake Wash­ing­ton schools and sent them to pri­vate schools so they would have small class sizes,” Tee­ley said. “Appar­ent­ly, he believes his kids deserve small class sizes, but not the rest of the stu­dents in the Lake Wash­ing­ton School District.”

Tee­ley also not­ed that since the reces­sion hit in 2008, law­mak­ers have repeat­ed­ly neglect­ed to give teach­ers a cost of liv­ing increase or help them with their health­care expens­es. As eco­nom­ic data shows, the stock mar­ket has bounced back in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, and the wealthy are doing quite well, but mid­dle and low income fam­i­lies have been left out of the recovery.

“It’s amaz­ing how the Leg­is­la­ture can meet in an emer­gency ses­sion and find the mon­ey to give Boe­ing an $8.7 bil­lion tax break, but they can’t seem to find the mon­ey to fund schools as man­dat­ed by our state Con­sti­tu­tion,” Tee­ley said.

Sev­er­al north cen­tral WEA locals are going on strike tomor­row. Teach­ers will be tak­ing to the streets to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the Leg­is­la­ture’s inabil­i­ty to act on school fund­ing and tax reform. Cour­tesy of WEA, here’s a run­down of protest sites:

Ana­cortes: 11 AM to 2:45 PM, pick­et­ing at 12th and Com­mer­cial downtown

Belling­ham and Blaine: 8:30 AM to 10:45 AM, meet at Depot Mar­ket Square, make signs and march on assigned routes; 10:45 AM speak­ers; 11:35 AM lunch; 12:30 PM resume march

Mount Ver­non and Con­way: 9 AM to 10 AM, pick­et­ing at var­i­ous inter­sec­tions in Mount Ver­non; 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM, ral­ly at the cour­t­house; 1 PM com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice projects at Hill­crest, Kiwa­nis and Lake­view parks

Fer­n­dale: 8:30 AM to 10 AM; meet at River­walk Park, make pick­et signs, walk along Main Street; 10:45 AM attend Depot Mar­ket Square ral­ly in Bellingham

LWEA’s deci­sion to strike will no doubt be crit­i­cized by Hill and his back­ers, who would like noth­ing more than to break up the union. But it is a whol­ly jus­ti­fied response the Leg­is­la­ture’s fail­ure to dis­charge its duties.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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