NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Emerald City teachers overwhelmingly ratify new contract with Seattle Public Schools

Teach­ers in Seat­tle have vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly to approve a new con­tract with Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools, which means class­es will be held as sched­uled tomor­row and in the months beyond, the Seat­tle Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion announced tonight.

The agree­ment had three com­po­nents. All were rat­i­fied with large margins.

“Today was a great day for uni­ty in Seat­tle on behalf of Seattle’s school chil­dren.  SEA’s mem­bers have rede­fined what it means to advo­cate for chil­dren. We have pow­er­ful, uni­fied, res­olute mem­bers who will take their pas­sion for doing what is right for chil­dren to Olympia,” said Jonathan Knapp, SEA president.

“From day one of this bar­gain, it’s been about putting our stu­dents first,” said Michael Tamayo, an ele­men­tary teacher and mem­ber of the SEA Bar­gain­ing Team.

“We got many new things in our con­tract that will ben­e­fit stu­dents,” said Shelly Hur­ley, a spe­cial edu­ca­tion teacher and mem­ber of the SEA Bar­gain­ing Team.

Accord­ing to a press release sent out by the Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion and SEA, nego­ti­a­tions with dis­trict admin­is­tra­tors pro­duced a con­tract which includes:

  • Guar­an­teed recess for students
  • Case­load limits
  • Pay rais­es
  • Racial equi­ty com­mit­tees at 30 schools
  • Test­ing reforms and improve­ments in how teach­ers are eval­u­at­ed (test scores will no longer be part of teacher eval­u­a­tions in Seattle)

The team at NPI con­grat­u­lates SEA on hav­ing suc­cess­ful­ly bar­gained for and won a fair con­tract. The gains secured by SEA will ben­e­fit teach­ers, par­ents, and stu­dents alike over the next three years, as well as the com­mu­ni­ty as a whole.

In going on strike ear­li­er this month, Seat­tle teach­ers demon­strat­ed their resolve to fight for bet­ter pub­lic schools. That’s the kind of courage we’d like to see from all of our state leg­is­la­tors. Too many recent leg­isla­tive ses­sions have end­ed with the adop­tion of under­whelm­ing, mediocre bud­gets that have left our chron­ic school fund­ing cri­sis unad­dressed. Real progress has sad­ly been rare and elusive.

It’s time the Leg­is­la­ture learned how to become pro­fi­cient at ful­fill­ing our state’s para­mount duty instead of rais­ing pro­cras­ti­na­tion to an art form.

Law­mak­ers in both hous­es can expect to be hear­ing soon from par­ents in and out of Seat­tle who have been fresh­ly recruit­ed into activism as a result of the strike. New­ly-formed groups like Wash­ing­ton’s Para­mount Duty plan to chan­nel their ener­gies into grass­roots lob­by­ing now that school has resumed and teach­ers have won a fair con­tract. This is exact­ly what our state needs: more peo­ple orga­niz­ing and mobi­liz­ing for pro­gres­sive change to end our school fund­ing crisis.

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