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Teachers poised for walkout

Educators unhappy about increasing class sizes and lack of raise

Joe Jolley, Copy Editor
Originally published May 12, 2015

Cassin Stacy SEA union representatives India Carlson and Noam Gundle brief other teachers on the motives for the walkouts.

Cassin Stacy

SEA union representatives India Carlson and Noam Gundle brief other teachers on the motives for the walkouts.

Usually when protests are held at schools, it is assumed that the students will be the ones participating. But on Thursday, April 30, teachers met in the library to vote on holding a staff walkout in protest of a lack of funding from the state legislature.

The motion passed 59 to 29, with one person abstaining, and the walkout is to be held on May 19. The compiled votes of all the voting teachers in the Seattle School District showed nearly 85 percent approval across the whole district.

The Washington State Legislature has twice been found by the Washington State Supreme Court to be unconstitutionally underfunding public education. Teachers are particularly distressed by proposed increases to class sizes despite the recent passage of Initiative 1351, which mandated class size reductions, and by a lack of cost of living raises in six years — despite the legislature granting themselves an 11 percent raise.

The unresponsiveness of the legislature on these matters has lead to frustration amongst teachers across the state. “I personally have written my legislators, have met with my legislators, traveled to Olympia to talk with legislators, and they’re just not listening,” botany teacher India Carlson said. “They’re not listening to the judicial system, they’re not listening to the voters and they certainly aren’t listening to the teachers.”

A separate vote was held last week, with 80 percent of polled staff saying they were in favor of walking out, but the turnout for the vote was less than desired. The Thursday vote was held in an attempt to draw larger numbers.

The walkout is not limited to the Seattle School District, as 17 other school districts have also approved walkouts.

School will be closed on the day of the walkout, and another day will be added to the end of the school year to make up for it. This makes the last day of school Tuesday, June 16.

If teachers are still unsatisfied with the legislatures duties after the walkout, a general strike at the beginning of the next school year has been discussed as a contingency plan.

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Teachers poised for walkout