Schools in the Seattle School District were closed Thursday and Friday last week as more than 5,000 teachers walked out in a strike after inconclusive talks with district officials. The teachers have not received a cost-of-living raise in six years, despite the high cost of living and working in the Seattle area–a cost that’s skyrocketed in the last several years thanks to the influx of tech employees at Google and Amazon.
Teachers feel that students aren’t getting the time and attention they need bcause their own workloads are too demanding, an injury added to the insult of no additions to teacher healthcare programs in five years. “Monday night, the district proposed a counter offer of $62 million to the $172 million union demand,” says Education News. The district then made a counter offer, after which the teachers’ union announced that they would strike.
Stacy Howard, a spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools, said that the school board plans to establish a 14% pay raise for teachers over the next three years, a raise which would include a cost-of-living adjustment. The district is also willing to offer a three-year contract worth $29 million in its first two years; meanwhile, the union’s proposed contract would be worth close to $84 million.
Seattle teachers have not gone on strike since 1985, and though this particular strike is a response to low pay, teachers also seek to dismantle the school board’s plan to lengthen the school day for students, which would cut down on preparation time as well as time simply spent outside of work. They would also like to see the rate of institutional testing significantly reduced.
The State of Washington has faced problems like this before. The U.S. Supreme Court said the state had not fully paid for the education of 1 million students, and the state will be fined $100,000 per day until they come up with a solution to this problem.
Teachers in Pasco, in the southeast part of the state, are also on strike, defying a court order intended to stop the action.