The Washington Education Association does its members and students a disservice with planned one-day protest strikes next week.
INSTEAD of striking, teachers across Washington state should be celebrating.
The Legislature has broadly agreed on an increase of at least $1.3 billion this biennium to reduce class sizes, fund full-day kindergarten and give teachers a cost-of-living raise. It is a massive, meaningful investment.
The best education budget in decades, however, does not appear to be enough for the Washington Education Association, the teachers union. Some local unions from Lakewood to Sedro-Woolley announced one-day protest strikes starting as early as Wednesday, and more are likely to join.
The WEA’s demands include full implementation of Initiative 1351, the unfunded class-size-reduction measure so mammoth in cost that even union loyalists in the Legislature haven’t supported it. They also demand that no student test scores be used to evaluate teachers, a position that appears to put the union crosswise with a recent proposal by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who boasts a perfect rating from a national teachers union.
These local strikes are tone deaf to the complex budget negotiations now under way in Olympia. A dramatic increase in education spending is a given. So is a substantial raise for teachers, which will permanently raise all pay grades.
The WEA, in keeping its members in an agitated state, does them a disservice. And by canceling school for a day, they do a disservice to students and to working parents, who now must find last-minute alternatives.
The union, which is consistently one of the biggest spenders in Olympia, knows the lobby game. It should keep its lobbying efforts there, and leave the kids out of it.