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By Robert A. Vella

In this little corner of America, a pacific northwest suburban community of beautiful trees and green wetlands, adults had been anticipating the earlier than usual start of the new school year.  Their rambunctious children, who have been terrorizing frolicking across the landscape all summer long, should be attending class right now giving parents and elderly neighbors a much needed reprieve.  But, they are not in school;  and, worse yet, these pre-autumn days are filled with more commotion than ever.

On every major road intersection near a public school, red-shirted teachers carrying signs are on strike.  Vehicle passersby are honking their horns in support.  There are smiling faces, waving hands, and all manner of camaraderie.  Every once in a while, some crusty old conservative curmudgeon with a scraggy beard and a beat-up pickup truck stops and complains about his taxes going up.  The teachers politely explain to them that taxes won’t go up because the funds needed for teacher salary increases have already been paid for.

Indeed, the teachers are correct.  A few years ago, a lawsuit reached the Washington State Supreme Court which subsequently ruled that the government was not adequately funding education and ordered it to do so.  After much haggling and delay, the state legislature complied.  Monies were distributed to local school districts which then decided against the teacher raises that had been expected.

From:  Thousands Of Southwest Washington Teachers Strike

Lawmakers sent funding to districts, including an additional $1 billion passed this session, to address the McCleary decision — a state Supreme Court case that determined Washington was failing to fully fund basic education. The new funding has meant that all 295 school districts in Washington state are renegotiating their teacher contracts. Some unions have been very successful getting their teachers raises up to a third of their salary. But the districts decide how to allocate the money and that makes for tough negotiations. Most of those districts are still trying to reach a deal.

This week, teachers from Evergreen, Vancouver, Ridgefield, Hockinson, Washougal and Battle Ground headed to the picket line. In Cowlitz County, Longview’s union voted to strike immediately and has been picketing since last week.

Most recently teachers in the state’s largest school district, Seattle, voted on Tuesday to strike if a deal isn’t reached by next week.

Joanie Hahn, a math teacher who has worked at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash., for 10 years, is one of thousands of teachers on strike in the region.

“We’ve been waiting a very long time for this and I just want to make sure that our voices are heard,” Hahn said. She feels that the school districts can now afford to pay teachers the double-digit increases they are asking for.

But superintendents say the money is not limitless. “There is a place that comes where you do have a financial limit,” said Mary Templeton, the superintendent of Washougal School District. “We’ve pushed the edge of the financial limit.”

So, the kiddies are still running amok making the geriatric crowd even more irritable than normal while the teachers walk and the parents cry.  Meanwhile, the school district bureaucrats are nowhere to seen.  Today was hopping!  There were dozens of teachers covering a quarter-mile section of the intersection pictured above, and they were getting a lot of encouragement from the public… including myself.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my 8th grade homeroom teacher Mrs. Green.  We mischievous little monsters discovered that she would get physically sick at the sight or smell of grape bubble gum.  Of course, a bunch of us went to class one morning all chewing that nasty stuff.  Poor Mrs. Green ran to the restroom.  I’m sorry, Mrs. Green!  Please forgive me!  🙂

20 thoughts on “Kiddies, Teachers, and Bureaucrats: How a victory for Schools and Teachers turned into a Labor Strike

  1. Robert, I really REALLY hope this happens nationwide in all 50 states, not just the Blue States! As a former Special Ed teacher 4th – 8th grades (Generalist), at a Charter school no less for wards-of-the-state students from horrible family situations, our school had a campus of 69% Special Needs students vs. regular students. Because of our state’s 2+ decades of Republican controlled Congresses and Governor, Lt. Governor, and all key offices below… after our 2010 – 2011 school year, Gov. Rick Perry slashed $4-billion more on top of $15-billion less for our 2-year budget cycle — some of the biggest cuts are federal funding because the state’s Red Party doesn’t want to follow Federal guidelines for science and sex-education requirements for those funds.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-budget-texas/texas-lawmakers-approve-bill-that-cuts-school-funding-idUSTRE75S0P120110629

    As a result of Gov. Perry’s slashes, our school lost 4 of our 6 federal education grants, teachers (all of us Spec Ed) were not getting our usual 3% annual raise, AND we were not getting the funds to hire Special Ed Aides all of us badly needed to reduce our average workday hours from 12-14 and 6-7 work days per week JUST to stay caught up on all our legal paperwork for every single Spec Ed student — which was typically half our classrooms. Plus, due to other specialized campuses in our region of central Texas having to close their doors as a consequence, our enrollment was increasing by 35% to 40% with more Spec Ed students busing in. Myself and about 14 other teachers had to leave. The demands were impossible. Period. And I refused to not give my upmost best to them the previous year… which nearly put me in the hospital for hypertension health complications.

    Meanwhile, those students faced a bigger chance of dropping out and eventually ending up in our state’s penal system. Higher crime rates and criminals/felons are the direct eventual result of poorer and poorer education standards and funding by Conservatives who scream bloody murder about “higher taxes” or “taxes too high”! They are so fuckin’ short-sighted it sometimes drives me insane! 😡😵

    GIVE ALL TEACHERS, especially public school educators and staff, EVERYTHING THEY NEED!!! THE FUTURE OF OUR/YOUR COUNTRY LITERALLY DEPENDS ON IT!!! Duh! 😒 It shouldn’t even be a damn debate!

    I’m also going to leave another link on Gov. Rick Perry’s stupidity in a following comment. Thanks Robert.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Professor, thanks so much for sharing that personal insight into our troubled education system. You’re so right, this worsening crisis is the direct result of pure political insanity. That you felt compelled to leave speaks volumes. What an effing nightmare!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ultimately Robert it begs of any snooty-snub-nosing tight-wad Conservative this simple question:

        Are you an American first who knows, understands, and embraces our U.S. Constitution and its enforcement/protection, or are you a hard-line Republican first!?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, but do hard-line Republicans (or Evangy-Fundy Xians that back them) REALLY understand the ramifications of their support, words, actions, and dismantling of the very democracy (est. with our Constitution & 3 Branches of Govt) that ALLOWS THEM to “worship” (privately) as they desire? That’s the incomprehensible part of their logic backing hard-line Repubs. 🤪🤔

          Liked by 2 people

        • Stupid and poorly educated people don’t understand a lot of things including our democracy, constitution, and governmental structure. Conversely, the authoritarian mindset is opposed to anything which impedes or obstructs their political objectives including our democracy, constitution, and governmental structure.

          America’s conservatives have always been a mix of these two factors. During the Revolutionary War, the educated elites who opposed independence were known as “Loyalists.” During the Antebellum, they were southern plantation owners. During the Gilded Age, they were lampooned as “Robber Barons.” Today, they occupy the top ranks of society as wealthy inheritors, corporate officers, political leaders, church administrators, etc., etc. They are quite skilled at manipulating the stupid and uneducated masses to their advantage.

          Reason and informed debate are ineffective tactics to combat them because of their intransigent attitudes. To get them to support a cause they are predisposed against, you must appeal to their self-interest. If you are savvy enough to be successful, a good cause like public education will help loosen their grip on the masses. Or, you can appeal directly to the self-interest of the masses as FDR did and seize political power from the elites. This is the unfortunate but true nature of political societies which far too many liberals just don’t understand.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Professor. My inclination to tell both sides of the aisle what they don’t want to hear does get people riled-up at me from time to time. But, it’s who I am and I’ll just have to deal with it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Kiddies back to school: How our local teachers strike was resolved | The Secular Jurist

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