Seattle teachers strike causes first day of school to be canceled

Source: Hot Air

Students in Seattle’s public school system should be in school today but the first day of school has been canceled. Teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The issues that led to the strike include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students.

Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter announced Tuesday that 95% of ballots returned by the union’s membership favored going on strike absent an agreement with Seattle Public Schools. Contract talks continued.

“No one wants to strike,” Matter said. “But SPS has given us no choice. We can’t go back to the way things have been.”

The Seattle Education Association, a union with about 6,000 members, has been in negotiations with Seattle Public Schools for months. The union is focused mostly on higher pay and services for special education and multilingual students. The school district is offering a package of all union members, including substitute teachers, and one-time incentives for some categories of teachers. The union demands include an increase in staff. Staffing ratios for special education and multilingual learners are of concern. That can’t be anything new, though. It seems like teacher unions have been complaining about the ratio of teachers to students for as long as I can remember. Public schools typically have large classrooms. The influx of multilingual learners would be from the problems associated with our broken immigration system, right? With Biden’s border crisis continuing to grow, that problem won’t be fixed any time soon.

The Seattle school district waited until late Tuesday afternoon to post on its website that there would be no school the next day, the first day of school for the 2022-2023 school year. Imagine parents scrambling at the last minute to make arrangements for their children. School cancellation wasn’t over an unavoidable event, like weather conditions, but because negotiations that have been going on for months failed to satisfy the teacher union.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the district posted on its website that there would be no school Wednesday, and that “school will be delayed until further notice because of a planned work stoppage by the Seattle educators’ union.”

The authorization does not guarantee a strike will happen, but union leaders have called for one if the union and the school district cannot cut a deal.

“Our Bargaining Team continues to work at the table and we still hope to announce an agreement rather than a strike tonight,” the union told members in an email.

The Seattle Education Association was holding a rally at the district’s main office Tuesday afternoon.

In an update sent to teachers, the union said it hopes to announce an agreement later Tuesday instead as the bargaining team continues to negotiate with the district, but should that not happen picket lines start at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

School districts around the country are facing teacher shortages, with most of the blame being put on the pandemic. Teachers have protested for higher wages and better working conditions for years, long before the pandemic. One thing the pandemic did was to expose how corrupt teacher unions are. They kept schools closed long after schools should have been re-opened. Teachers threatened strikes during the pandemic as children and parents struggled with online learning. The union demands often had nothing to do with in-class instruction but a part of a social justice agenda. Remember the union in Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles president who claimed that children had no learning loss due to the pandemic and online learning?

“There is no such thing as learning loss,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz told “Los Angeles Magazine” in a rare sit-down interview when she was questioned about how her insistence to keep the school district locked down during the pandemic impacted students.

“Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup,” she continued.

Myart-Cruz was at the forefront of rejecting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push to get teachers back into the classroom in March, saying $2 billion in incentives for teachers to return to in-person teaching was “a recipe for propagating structural racism.”

“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and brown communities do,” Myart-Cruz said at the time.

We know now that parents were correct all along. Their children were struggling without the normalcy of in-class instruction, going to school as they normally would. The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on the damage that teacher unions did to school children during the pandemic. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for 2022 were cited. There was an unprecedented decline in reading and math scores that will take years, if ever, to make up.

What happened to the American Rescue Act money? Washington State received $1.9 billion for K-12 schools. Has that money been spent for schools and staff?

At a time like this when parents are desperate to get the lives of their children back to normal, this is an avoidable and selfish act by Seattle teachers. After the greed and corruption of teacher unions was exposed during the pandemic, you’d think that they would go the extra mile and put the best interests of the students ahead of their own grievances. Yet, teacher unions around the country are looking to use whatever goodwill the teachers who went the extra mile for their students earned during the pandemic to get new deals now.

High inflation, a national teacher shortage and the goodwill teachers earned from their pandemic-schooling efforts are all bolstering union efforts, said Bradley Marianno, an assistant professor of education policy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“By all measures, school budgets actually look pretty good right now,” Marianno said. “So as teachers union contracts are expiring, they’re looking for new deals that essentially send more funding to teachers and more funding to students.”

School in the Seattle suburb of Kent was supposed to start Aug. 25 but has been delayed as teachers there strike.

Teachers in Columbus – Ohio’s largest school district – last week ended a brief strike, agreeing on a package that included 4% raises, includes plans for building improvements, reduced class sizes and innovative paid leave benefits.

In Denver, marathon bargaining sessions resulted last week in tentative agreement for an 8.7% raise for educators, a higher salary for first-year teachers, and more money from the district for health insurance costs.

Teachers in Minneapolis, Chicago and Sacramento walked out earlier this year before securing new contracts.

The union in Seattle hasn’t accepted the school district’s offer of pay raises and bonuses.

In Seattle, the school district has offered pay raises of an additional 1% above the 5.5% cost-of-living increase set by state lawmakers – far less than the union says it wants – plus one-time bonuses for certain teachers, including $2,000 for third-year Seattle teachers earning an English language or dual-language endorsement.

So, Seattle schools didn’t open today and the children are stuck at home. None of this helps the ones who have much work to do to catch up on what was lost during the pandemic.