Strike suspended as agreement is made

School begins Thursday for Seattle Public Schools

Grace Harmon, News Editor
Originally published September 16, 2015

Aiden Sheckler Spanish teacher Joe Szwaja offers a peace sign for drivers honking to support the teacher strike.

Aiden Sheckler

Spanish teacher Joe Szwaja offers a peace sign for drivers honking to support the teacher strike.

For the 53,000 families in the Seattle Public Schools, a breath of relief was given yesterday when it was announced school would officially resume this Thursday, Sept. 17, after an eight day hiatus due to teacher strikes over a fair contract, and the Seattle Education Association strike would be temporarily postponed. After months negotiating, and a nearly 24 hour straight meeting on Monday, the SEA and SPS reported on Tuesday that a tentative agreement had been made. 

At a teacher picket on Tuesday at BHS, the atmosphere was excited. “There’s a very  positive feel today because of what’s going on,” Valerie Green, history teacher, said. “We’re looking forward to getting back to the work we all love to do.”

The entire SEA will hold a vote this Sunday on the agreement to determine if the contract is mutually agreed upon, or if the strike will resume this Monday. A representative assembly voting which took place Tuesday night resulted in a 70 percent vote in favor from the union to support the agreement and a 95 percent vote to suspend the strike.

At a march held Tuesday, it was reported that much support had been received from families and students, as well as from Reuven Carlyle, the legislative representative from the 36th district to our state legislation. “He spoke in support of activism and noted that the state has been failing in their funding, constitutional mandate of what is ample funding for education,” Green said. “[He said] the only way to address that, unfortunately is for people to take action like this, to bring it to the attention of the public and of what a key role education is to our civilization.”

Points of the agreement include a guaranteed 30 minutes of recess for elementary students, policies to reduce over-testing and a base salary increase for educators. In addition, test scores will no longer be included in teacher evaluations and additional staff will be brought in to reduce over working and support for students. Finally, it was agreed to add 30 minutes of school each day, starting in three years, and that teachers would be paid for the additional time.

The SEA reportedly feels positive on the changes made in their contract. “I am incredibly proud of SEA members and our incredible bargaining team,” said Jonathan Knapp, SEA president, according to the Washington Education Association. “This agreement signals a new era in bargaining in public education. We’ve negotiated a pro-student, pro-parent, pro-educator agreement.”