Seattle teachers OK contract; school starts on time

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SEATTLE — It was down to the wire for Seattle teachers.

teacherAt about 8 p.m. Tuesday, teachers voted to accept a new contract, averting a strike and allowing school to start on time Wednesday.

“It was very close,” teacher David Zwiren said.

Under the ratified contract, teachers will get a 2% pay raise the first year, then another 2.5% the second year.

“The union leadership pressures us because of time constraints. We are told they did the best they could, and we get crumbs again,” said teachers’ aide Raul Miranda.

“I am happy for that 2% percent raise,” said teacher Len Hill.

But the fight against standardized tests will have to continue because it will still be used to evaluate teachers.

“State law requires showing student growth, but state law definitely doesn’t require putting standardized test scores in teacher evaluations,” said teacher Jesse Hagopian.

The new contract also lengthens the workday for elementary school teachers by another 30 minutes, to 7 ½ hours.

“I am an elementary school teacher. We work the extra hours anyway, so we are really not going to see it,” said Hill.

Even after hours of debate, many teachers called it a close vote, estimating that only 60% of teachers seemed to be in favor of the new contract. About 1,500 teachers out of the 3,000 in the district attended the meeting at Benaroya Hall on Tuesday. The vote was taken by a show of hands.

“You are characterizing it as close. I think it was clear, it was very clear, different perspectives all around. It was robustly debated, all the issues were put on the table,” said Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp.


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