Seattle students, teachers and parents held events to protest the district’s plan to reassign two dozen teachers.
Though the official list of Seattle schools who may lose — or gain — teachers in a budget-related shuffle hasn’t been released, parents and lawmakers are asking the school district to halt plans to move anyone.
Students, teachers and parents held a “half-baked sale” and staged a protest Tuesday outside Seattle Public Schools headquarters to bring attention to the planned reassignments of about two dozen teachers, which the district said last week is largely tied to lower-than-projected enrollment.
“Parents were already unhappy (from the strike),” Alki Elementary parent Amy King said. “This pushed us over the edge. This made us angry.”
Earlier Tuesday, a newly formed group called Teacher Retention Advocate Parents — T.R.A.P — held a “half-baked sale” on the lawn of Seattle Public Schools headquarters to protest the reassignments. Parents sold items like “packed-class pralines” from a table with a sign that read “How many cookies do we need to sell to raise $90,000?”
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The purpose of the sale was to “highlight the absurdity of funding basic education with carwashes and bake sales,” said Carolyn Leith, whose two children attend Olympic View Elementary School and Jane Addams Middle, both of which are slated to lose staff. Although the district has yet to announce which teachers will move where, a number of schools have already announced they expect one or more of their teachers to be transferred.
Outside the district’s headquarters in Sodo, parents and other supporters talked about the division that occurs when some schools raise more money than others. Some schools are trying to raise the $90,000 it would take to keep a teacher, but don’t expect to reach that level. So far, Alki Elementary, with the help of a donation of $70,000 from a Ballard parent, is the only school known to have reached that goal.
The need for fundraising puts pressure on all schools, said Erin Murphy, who will find out later this week if her first-grader, who attends Concord International Elementary School, will remain in a first-grade class, or switch to a class with both kindergartners and first-graders as a result of a teacher cut.
It’s hard to watch other schools raise enough money to keep their teachers, Murphy said.
“You want to be happy for them, but you’re not,” she said. “It just creates so much division. Now my kids are too poor for a public education?”
On Monday, 11 lawmakers from the Seattle area sent a letter to the Seattle School Board asking the board to consider postponing the transfers, saying they are working in Olympia to meet obligations under the McCleary decision, but “in the meantime, we would like to ensure that all students in our district are getting a high-quality education this year.”
In response, School Board President Sherry Carr and Vice President Sharon Peaslee wrote that the district can’t retain teachers in schools where enrollment is lower than projected, and can’t reduce class sizes without adequate funding.
“This is one of many impacts of inadequate state funding at the local level,” Carr and Peaslee wrote. “It creates problems for students, teachers and schools.”