by Ari Robin McKenna
Yesterday evening, in a resounding show of solidarity, 95% 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
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
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
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
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