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.