Tag Archives: Seattle Education Association

South End Equity Questions After Protest Highlights Special Education Staffing Moves

by Ari Robin McKenna


A mix of well over a hundred teachers, parents, and students showed up at the district headquarters in SoDo Wednesday, Oct. 27, for a rally on a quickly darkening, drizzly evening. A number of speeches were given under the partially covered colonnade in front of a red wall — on the other side of that wall the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) board was in a budget session addressing a $28.1 million loss of revenue due to enrollment decline and eyeing an estimated gap of $78 million for the 2022–2023 school year.

The rally was organized by Seattle Education Association (SEA) leadership in conjunction with the Special Education PTSA (SEPTSA). The protest was in response to word that there would be 50 schools affected by special education staffing adjustments — which SEPTSA reported on their blog. With the slogan “Needs Before Numbers,” the speakers at the rally criticized the impact of these moves at specific schools and a general lack of parent and teacher involvement in staffing decisions. Attendees also questioned whether a disproportionate amount of the 3,440 students that have left the district since 2019 were receiving appropriate special education services.

Tess Bath, a special education instructional assistant at Highland Park’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program, addressed the crowd warmly. “It’s really nice to be here with all y’all. We’ve been crying a lot and it feels really healing to just share space.” The start of the 2021–2022 school year, on the heels of two COVID-disrupted years, has been brutal on educators, and Bath read from a letter she’d sent to the district about how disruptive staffing changes can be in her line of work. “SEL is built on consistent and trusting relationships. To sever those would alter the very foundation of our program and our ability to do our jobs and serve our students … They deserve to have enough support to meet their IEP [Individual Education Program] goals, access their LRE [Least Restrictive Environment], and be seen as a priority by their school district.”

The disruption that occurs when a single educator is required to leave their school and the relationships they’ve built is incalculable. But given the context of a pandemic, a massive budget shortfall, and a special education system that favors white students, some have expressed doubts about the timing of this rally, and the information that catalyzed it. 

Continue reading South End Equity Questions After Protest Highlights Special Education Staffing Moves

Citing Under-Enrollment, SPS Outsources Grade 6–12 Virtual Learning for 2021–2022

by Ari Robin McKenna


Last week, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced to parents via their newsletter that the Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) would be limited to kindergarten through fifth grade. Sixth to 12th graders who want virtual learning options will be given a list of suggested external virtual programs. This walked back a June 17 announcement that the VOPP would be K–12 and drew immediate criticism from the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

In a recent conversation with the Emerald, Dr. Concie Pedroza, SPS associate superintendent, cited low enrollment numbers for the K–12 pilot, the complexity of middle and high school course offerings, and resulting staffing challenges as primary factors in the district’s decision.

In an SPS student survey conducted late last school year and filled out by about half of all middle and high schoolers, 6% of the high schoolers and 7% of middle schoolers indicated they would like to continue with fully remote learning in the future.

Continue reading Citing Under-Enrollment, SPS Outsources Grade 6–12 Virtual Learning for 2021–2022

Why Franklin High School Teachers Spent the Last Two and Half Days Outside

by Ari Robin McKenna


On Monday afternoon earlier this week, as clouds began to block the sun, the temperature dove from its high of 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Extension cords of various colors trailed out of the heated, fortress-like Franklin High School (FHS) building, built in 1912, and made their way through the bushes and across walkways to where teachers, bundled up, sat at fold-out tables on their laptops, attending virtual meetings. A couple of them appeared to be shivering.

Continue reading Why Franklin High School Teachers Spent the Last Two and Half Days Outside

Highline Teachers Approve March 11 Return, Seattle Begins Limited In-Class Learning March 29

by Ari Robin McKenna


In a general membership meeting of the Highline Education Association (HEA) Monday night, teachers voted to begin a phased return to in-person learning for elementary students beginning with “Pre-K, kindergarten, grade 1, and students served in Intensive Academic Center (IAC) K–12” on March 11, and ending with grade 4 and grade 5 on April 1. A week earlier, the union’s general membership had voted to delay the return to in-person learning until April 19.

This about-face follows an intense, three days last week in which Highline Public School (HPS) Superintendent Susan Enfield announced she would be enlisting as a substitute teacher, a letter sent from HPS Human Resources to teachers who had not been granted remote teaching placement threatened them with “progressive discipline” for not returning to work, and a parent petition circulated claiming a “profound lack of confidence” in Enfield and the HPS school board. It also follows a weekend of further bargaining where “supplemental measures” to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two sides were developed.

Continue reading Highline Teachers Approve March 11 Return, Seattle Begins Limited In-Class Learning March 29

BREAKING: Seattle Educators Overwhelmingly Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Superintendent and Administration

by Ari Robin McKenna


Yesterday evening, in a resounding show of solidarity, 98% of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) teachers who were present at a Special Representative Assembly cast votes of no confidence in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Denise Juneau, Chief Human Resources Officer and Lead Negotiator Clover Codd, and Chief Financial Officer and Chief Negotiator JoLynn Berge for, “attempting to unilaterally impose new working conditions upon SEA members without completing negotiations.”

Continue reading BREAKING: Seattle Educators Overwhelmingly Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Superintendent and Administration

Leader of Seattle Education Association Reacts to Bargaining Over School Reopening

by Ari Robin McKenna


On Friday, Feb. 26, Seattle Public School (SPS) District leaders for the second time announced a presumptive return date for a segment of its student population — despite not having an agreement with the union that represents teachers and other staff, the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

On Dec. 5, 2020, SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau caused SEA to cry foul when she announced a recommendation that students in pre-K through first grade and students in moderate to intensive special education service pathways should return to in-person on March 1. Later in the month, the Seattle School Board unanimously voted in support of Juneau’s aspirational reopening date, and bargaining teams began in earnest to sort through the many details involved in coming to an agreement with the union. In the meantime, a vocal minority of Seattle’s parents mounted pressure on the union to accept this date as though it were a given.

Then, at around 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, the last school day before their projected reopening date of March 1, teachers were again thrown for a loop when the headline on SPS’ website read, “Students in PreK-12 Intensive Service Pathways and Preschool Students Returning In-Person March 11.” This time, the school board voted (with Brandon Hersey the lone dissenting vote) to classify staff members who work with these returning students as essential workers.

Continue reading Leader of Seattle Education Association Reacts to Bargaining Over School Reopening

As Seattle Public Schools Negotiates Some In-Person Classes Resuming, Equity Questions Loom

by Ari Robin McKenna


This week, the Seattle Public School (SPS) District and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) resumed bargaining about when the return to in-person education for pre-K to first grade — as well as students enrolled in moderate to intensive special education service pathways — will happen and what it will look like. In a pandemic month that also featured a failed coup and the inauguration of our country’s first Black, Asian, and female vice president, SPS has already seen a school board member abruptly resign and the staff of a South End elementary school announce that they will refuse to return to in-person learning until it’s safe for their community to do so. With pressure mounting to reopen SPS as soon as possible and bargaining already strained, there is mounting evidence that suggests white families stand to benefit more and that their communities will face fewer impacts from a return to in-person learning.

In a Facebook message posted on Jan. 7, SPS board representative Eden Mack announced her resignation. Mack, who represents District 4 (which includes the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Southern Ballard) mentioned a “dysfunctional culture” and also stated, “The massive gap between the true cost of providing basic education in an urban school district and what the State provides is not imaginary.” Mack then went on to ask the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) of the state of Washington for an “intervention.”

Continue reading As Seattle Public Schools Negotiates Some In-Person Classes Resuming, Equity Questions Loom

South End Public School Staff to District: Don’t Reopen Without Vaccines

by the Staff of Dearborn Park International School


In response to the recent unilateral announcement by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) that they intend to reopen pre-K/kindergarten/first grade for in-person instruction beginning in March, the staff of Dearborn Park International Elementary School came together for a series of conversations to share our thoughts and concerns about this proposal. The conversations involved the majority of the staff — dozens of staff members over multiple days and included classroom teachers from every grade as well as specialists, instructional assistants, secretaries, and other staff.

We were especially concerned that SPS has not been clear in their communications to families and staff. The decision to reopen schools is not yet official and will have to be negotiated with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) first — there currently is no actual plan in place that would meet the needs of the impacted schools.

Continue reading South End Public School Staff to District: Don’t Reopen Without Vaccines

The Teacher Strike and the Cycle of Poverty

by Hanna Brooks Olsen (Featured Image courtesy of Michael “Renaissance” Moynihan)

If you know one thing about the teacher strike, it’s probably that the teachers are bargaining for higher wages, which is true.

Seattle Public Schools teachers haven’t had a cost of living adjustment in six years — and in that time, rents in Seattle have gone up about 40% in some places, meaning our educators are actively making less money than they were a few years ago, to do the same important job. Continue reading The Teacher Strike and the Cycle of Poverty