More than 70 Seattle schools held “walk-ins” Thursday to show support for public education. The events were designed to be a symbol of unity between educators, their school communities and the district, which have had a strained relationship since the teachers strike last year.
A bigger library. Smaller class sizes. Fully-funded kindergarten.
Standing on the Daniel Bagley Elementary School playground before school started Thursday, students, teachers and parents wrote out their visions for how to improve their schools. The students wrote their requests on sheets of paper — some, like “a big swimming pool” were a little less realistic than others — and then put them in a box, while the adults wrote theirs on a white board.
Then, shortly before school started, everyone outside walked into school together.
Their “walk-in” was one of 70 held at schools across Seattle, as part of a national movement to support public schools. Similar events were held Thursday morning at schools in more than 20 cities, including Miami, Los Angeles and Newark, N.J.
The local walk-ins were sponsored by the Seattle Education Association and Soup for Teachers, a parent group.
For Seattle schools, the walk-ins were designed to be a symbol of unity between educators, their school communities and the district, which has had a strained relationship with both teachers and some parents after the teachers strike last year.
At Washington Middle School, schools Superintendent Larry Nyland and teachers union Vice President Phyllis Campano participated in the walk-in.
“I think we are starting to move forward and work together for what is best for our kids and what we need for our kids,” Campano said Wednesday. “Coming together and standing shoulder-to-shoulder for a vision for our kids is our first step, and it’s a good one.”
Beth Gongaware, whose three children attend Bagley north of Green Lake, wrote “fully-funded kindergarten” on the large board, which organizers plan to send to Olympia. Her family hasn’t felt a financial strain as a result of lack of kindergarten programs, but she knows other families who have, she said.
“I feel very fortunate, because it hasn’t had a huge impact, but paying for full-time kindergarten for others has been financially difficult,” she said.
Earlier this week, the state Senate passed a bill that talks about how the state will figure how to fix the way education is funded, as required by the 2012 McCleary decision. The state has been held in contempt for failing to have a plan to pay for basic education and is being fined $100,000 a day.
Teachers union President Jonathan Knapp said he hoped the walk-ins would show the larger community — and lawmakers — how broad the support is for schools.
“We’re all on board for public education,” he said. “We’re all part of the community.”