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Walkouts grow; Sen. Hill ‘puzzled,’ says budget plans are ‘phenomenal’

Updated strike list and map

WEA_3096Educators across the state are staging one-day strikes against the Legislature over inadequate school funding, but the lead Senate budget writer doesn’t understand why.

“Sen. Andy Hill, who represents Kirkland and is a chief budget writer in the Senate, said the timing of the walk-out(s) is puzzling, as either budget proposal would be “phenomenal for education…” wrote the Kirkland Reporter newspaper.

Despite Hill’s puzzlement, educators are protesting the House and Senate budget plans for failing to fund smaller class sizes as required by voter-approved I-1351, which is now law and part of the state’s obligation to fully fund basic education.

And after six years with no state COLA and five years with no increase in health care funding, educators also are protesting budget proposals that fail to provide the competitive pay and benefits needed to recruit and retain qualified school staff. Legislation limiting local control of school districts, along with the misuse of standardized tests, also are top concerns.

IMG_0164Gov. Jay Inslee said he didn’t condone walkouts, but conceded educators have a reason to protest.

“I really understand deeply the profound frustration of teachers who have been denied any COLA for years now. The Legislature right now is going to get an 11 percent COLA while the teachers are having to dig in their own pockets to buy colored pencils for their kids,” Inslee told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the current special legislative session is set to end May 28, and the Legislature appears to be no closer to a final budget agreement. A second special session is likely.

On Thursday, educators in the Moses Lake, Pasco, Richland, Kennewick, Kiona-Benton, Columbia and Highline school districts walked out. Educators in Spokane and Olympia announced they’re walking out next week. The list of walkouts stands at 63 – for now. More locals are voting girlin the next few days, and the sense of urgency and frustration with the Legislature is growing.

“Our students have a constitutional civil right to a quality public education; unfortunately, our elected leaders in Olympia are placing that civil right in jeopardy,” said Jeremy Pitts, Moses Lake Education Association president. “We have won court cases, worked hard to pass initiatives, held rallies and marches, met with legislators, attended town halls, written letters and emails, and made phone calls. Yet the Legislature is still failing to fulfill its paramount duty to amply fund public education.”

During walkouts and at rallies, support from parents and students has been strong.

“I am glad I get to go to school, and I think this walkout is important and exciting. Thank you people that are trying to make schools better,” said Lola Stephens, a first grader in University Place.

Get the latest walkout updates by text! Text ourvoice to 41411.

 

Teacher strikes against the Legislature continue – and grow

More than 1,000 Marysville and Oak Harbor teachers staged one-day strikes Friday to protest the Legislature’s failure to pass – or even propose — a budget that fully funds public education. And nearly 2,000 educators in the Evergreen School District near Vancouver confirmed they will walk out against the Legislature on May 13. Educators inContinue Reading

Senate budget goes backwards on educator pay, shortchanges class sizes

A day after more than 400 WEA members lobbied for education funding in Olympia, the Senate released a budget plan that goes backwards on educator pay and health benefits and ignores the need to reduce class sizes in grades 4-12. Here’s WEA’s news release about the Senate budget: Senate budget fails on teacher pay, smallerContinue Reading

On TV and at rallies, educators tell lawmakers it’s TIME to fund our schools

It’s TIME for the Legislature to fully fund our kids’ education. That’s the message behind a new WEA TV ad that began airing Monday – and the message at nine recent education rallies that drew nearly 3,000 educators and supporters across the state. The TV ad highlights the state’s obligation to fund a quality educationContinue Reading

The truth about ESSB 5748: State test scores tied to teacher evaluations

Help defeat ESSB 5748 — email your legislators! Earlier in March, the state Senate approved Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5748, which mandates the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations. WEA members staunchly oppose this bill and any proposal that mandates test scores in teacher evaluations. The Senate’s own bill report shows WEA’s leadContinue Reading

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