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Seattle teachers rally for better contract 6 days before school starts

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SEATTLE — If you passed Eckstein Middle School during the Wednesday afternoon rush, you may have thought Seattle public school teachers were already on strike.

teacher protestThere were teachers with picket signs chanting on the sidewalk and marching through the crosswalk.

They’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best — that a deal can be reached before the first day of school Sept. 4.

“I’m really hoping so. I’d really like to get in the classroom and get to work with the kids,” teacher Kurt Grevstad said.

Most of the teachers we spoke with say they are optimistic that a deal will be reached.

Union leaders say the demonstration is meant to send a message that teachers want to be in the classroom with their children when school starts next week.

Rest for these teachers has been in short supply.

“I’m tired. I thought everything would be done last week so it’s hard to have it go on, but I’m really optimistic,” Seattle teacher Kristin Bailey-Fogarty said.

The good news is both sides are still talking, but if Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp has any idea how the negotiations are going, he’s not telling.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t go down to Vegas and gamble. I just deal with what’s in front of me and that’s what’s happening at the bargaining table.  The bargaining table is where the contract happens, that’s where the deal happens.  We respect the process and we’re trying to work as hard as we can to get a fair contract for teachers,” Knapp said.

Sticking points include longer days for elementary school teachers with no additional pay.

Compensation is another big one, and even bigger is teacher evaluations that some say are unfair for them and that don`t help students.

Their contract is up on Saturday and school is supposed to start on Wednesday — again there is optimism both sides will step up and come to an agreement for the sake of students.

“I know that our district wants to support kids. All of the teachers want to be back at work when school starts and I’m just hoping the two sides can come together and create a tentative agreement so we can vote and get back to work,” Bailey-Fogarty said.

Meanwhile, parents like Marc Logue are caught in the middle.

“We’ll just have to make slight arrangements and we’ll deal with it.  I think the issues they’re dealing with are important,” Logue said.

The district has told parents to prepare for a strike.

They believe the deal on the table is generous and good for teachers and students, but they, too, say they respect the process and will continue to negotiate as long as possible.

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  • robert phippd

    These teachers make around 50k a year while I am barely making 24k doing a very dangerous job. These teachers need to shut up and look at their personal spending. If I can make it with under 24k a year so can they

  • Xuven

    I keep hearing class size… Some complaining about 20-25 students what do they want a 1:1 ratio…… Every kid gets their own personal teacher….. Yes I am being obnoxious ….. But I would like to what the teachers think is a fair class size.

  • Norman

    School is slated to start soon in Washington State…

    Several Schools have reported that contract talks with their Teachers Unions are in threat of Striking.

    Public School employees are precluded from striking. Since these strikes are illegal, why are we again subject to such actions? When is some school district's Board going to go to court and get an order with contempt fines scheduled against the teachers and the two parts of the Union responsible for the strike.

    The affected boards should go to court before the strike begins so the unions and union members are aware of consequences of their going on strike before they actually do strike.

    I suggest that each teacher be fined $200 per day, Each local president be fined $500 per day, The WEA President $1,000 per day and the WEA $10,000 daily. Perhaps this way they just might understand how serious the situation is for all those effected by their illegal behavior take their unlawful actions…

    Don't get me wrong, I'm Pro teachers. I'm just anti-unlawful actions…

  • jeff

    This is more of the same from the Democratic Teacher's union thuggery using education as the facade for demanding more money. The WEA decides what school district will strike and the followers just do their bidding. This is about more money for the WEA and the teacher's union. Raises for teachers means the teacher's union can raise dues for membership. There's no reason why these teachers should be striking. It is against the law for public employees to strike.

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