Teachers strike delays Seattle public school start

Seattle public school students will not start school Wednesday as scheduled after the local teachers’ union voted to strike.

The Seattle Education Association (SEA) is demanding more money, teacher workload caps, and a guarantee that the district will maintain certain staffing ratios for multilingual and special education students, despite enrollment and academic standards continuing to fall.

In 2019, the teachers negotiated an 11 percent raise spread out over three years and now make well above the Seattle average salary. Many teachers in the district are already paid in excess of six figures plus benefits in addition to the 12-15 weeks of vacation they receive.

Approximately 75 percent of the union’s 6,000 members voted on the strike, and roughly 95 percent of those voted in favor of the strike, according to the union following last week’s union board recommendation for members to vote in favor of doing so.

Teachers held a rally on Tuesday afternoon at the John Stanford Center, the massive headquarters of Seattle Public Schools which costs millions of the district’s $1.14 billion budget to operate.

The announcement of the strike came days after a report was released showcasing how Democrats’ school closures during the COVID pandemic caused a massive drop in academics and increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Seattle Public Schools was forced to cancel school multiple times over the past two years due to staffing shortages following teachers’ requests for time off around extended weekends.

The union also opposed the district’s decision to end masking last year and begged King County health officials to keep masking requirements in place.

Despite the reading and math proficiency of Washington state students dramatically falling since 2019, the SPS budget gives more money to racial equity programs than all language arts and STEM courses combined.

Democratic State Senator Reuven Carlyle advocated against the strike in a Facebook post. “Enrollment has fallen from 55,303 in 2019 to 50,535 now. Total SPS budget has grown 39 percent since 2015 to $1,011,204,091. (state funds increased 56 percent while local levy dollars decreased).”

He added, “Per pupil, funding has increased to $12,344 from $8,070. The state has reformed educational finance as directed by the state Supreme Court,” and that the “Average salary including benefits has grown 31 percent to $131,155 from $99,911.”

Picket lines begin at 7:30 am Wednesday.

Teachers in Kent, Washington’s fourth-largest school district, are also on strike.

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