Teachers Plan Walkouts To Protest State Budget; At Least Eight WA Districts Affected
Leaders of eight local teachers unions announced plans Friday to hold "one-day strikes" beginning next week in hopes to express frustrations with the progress of state budget talks in Olympia.
Teachers in the Arlington, Lakewood and Stanwood-Camano districts will walk out on Wednesday, April 22, according to a press release from the Washington Education Association. On Friday, April 24, Ferndale and Bellingham teachers will do the same.
"If we stay in our classrooms on Friday," said Bellingham Education Association president Shirley Potter, "it's going to be the same old stuff and nothing changes. This way, by doing rolling walkouts, protests, down I-5 ... it's going to be in the media every day," Potter said. "Now, someone's got to deal with it down in Olympia."
Seattle teachers have not decided whether to stage a similar walkout, but Seattle Education Association president Jonathan Knapp said Friday nothing is off the table. Tacoma Education Association president Angel Morton also didn't rule it out, but said she's still gauging the opinion of her membership.
"It's not something to be done lightly," Morton said.
Local teachers unions in Blaine, Sedro-Wooley and Mount Vernon schools have also approved walkouts, but have yet to pick dates.
Both Washington House and Senate lawmakers have proposed spending roughly $1.3 billion or $1.4 billion more on K-12 education to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to boost school funding. But neither budget funds across-the-board class size reductions the unions desire.
The Washington Education Association statement takes particular issue with votes taken in the Senate, including a plan the union said would "shortchange" teacher pay and benefits.