With about one week to go, Seattle Public Schools has not reached a deal with the union yet. They are formally warning families that school may not start on time. The district just started sending out robocalls and emails to alert families to be prepared in case the Seattle Education Association delays the first day of school due to a lack of a contract.
If you read some of the comments on the West Seattle blog, you would think that this mess is the teachers’ fault. However, teachers are not really the ones negotiating the contracts. Let’s clear up some misconceptions.
- We should blame teachers if schools don’t start on time. Wrong! Teachers want school to start on time just as much as parents and everyone else. They want to get down to the business of actually teaching.
- Blame unions for screwing everything up and being concerned only about money. Wrong again! Unions are the ones trying to secure fair wages and decent living conditions for the people who raise your kids. There hasn’t been a teacher raise in about five years!
- Well, they waited until the last minute to negotiate. Now they spring this on us at the last second. Actually, they have been negotiating since before school got out. However, they have failed to reach an agreement yet.
- Why do they even need a new contract? The one they have is fine. Actually, according to Superintendent Jose Banda, “The current contract was approved in 2010 and expires on August 31. We have been negotiating since spring and are committed to continuing discussions with SEA.”
- So, what’s the big deal? Well, some of the issues on the table are fair compensation for work, no class size increases, new service model for special education students, investment in student support staff (such as psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, school nurses and speech pathologists), lengthening the work day of elementary teachers (for planning, grading and team meetings) by 30 minutes, and fair teacher evaluation.
Support teachers and kids by standing by the district while they finalize their negotiations.