Teachers in three Puget Sound-area districts staged protests Wednesday over what they say is too little funding for the state’s public schools.
About 700 teachers in three Puget Sound-area school districts staged protests Wednesday, calling for better pay and asking lawmakers to completely fund a voter-approved initiative that would lower the number of students per class.
In Marysville, teachers from the Lakewood School District held signs saying “Good schools require good funding,” on an interstate overpass Wednesday morning. Schools in that district and the nearby Stanwood-Camano School District were closed.
Stanwood-Camano teachers met in a park in downtown Stanwood Wednesday morning and waved picket signs while marching around town.
In Arlington, classes were in session Wednesday morning but ended early for a teachers rally in the afternoon. Teachers were already scheduled to have an afternoon of training Wednesday, which they will now make up after school is out this summer.
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Five more local teachers unions — Bellingham, Ferndale, Blaine, Mount Vernon and Anacortes — plan to hold similar half- or full-day walkouts Friday. In some, classes will be canceled all day, and students and teachers will make up the lost time on a day added to the end of the school year.
In Anacortes, teachers had already scheduled an early release for training Friday, like in Arlington.
In Seattle, teachers will decide next week whether to join the strike.
In the Lake Washington School District on the Eastside, the union is polling its members, with results expected to be announced Thursday, said Kevin Teeley, that union’s president.
At times, school districts have taken striking teachers to court, citing a state law that public employees are prohibited from striking. But that hasn’t happened so far this year.
Rich Wood, spokesman for the Washington Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, said he has not heard of any district imposing consequences. And he said the WEA thinks teachers have the right to protest.
The statewide union has lobbied extensively for better teacher pay and more school funding this legislative session, organizing rallies and airing radio advertisements.
The WEA was also a major backer of last fall’s initiative to reduce class sizes, Initiative 1351, which lawmakers now say they can’t afford.
The union spent more than $2.5 million in support of that measure, according to campaign-finance records.