thedonproject
Bellevue School District Teacher Strike, day 5 of ?
Politics
Published 09-08-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

It’s a difficult thing to choose to inconvenience others in order to fight for what you think you deserve. That, I think, is what we’re doing. That is what we voted to continue to do tonight.

Here’s why I’m out there and why I think the community should support the delay in the start of the school year:

Washington is 22nd in teacher pay in the nation. Our Gross Domestic Product is ranked 14th, from what I can read on tables created by this site. If my rudimentary understanding of economics is correct, that basically means we are the 14th richest state and paying our teachers the 22nd best. I fight for fair pay for the whole state of Washington by fighting for an extra 2.5% over the next two years. If we get paid more, districts around us can fight to get paid more as well.

Inflation has been reported to me as 6.9%. This article puts it at 7% or more, from what I understand. If we settle for the district offer of 1.5% (the first year) plus the cost-of-living adjustment that has been owed to us since before I started teaching of 5.1% (the first year), we will effectively be making LESS this year than we were last year. If less conservative estimates of inflation are correct, this is including my $200 raise for being one year more experienced (that’s 0.4%, by the way). I fight for pay that does not effectively lower my salary.

There are talks of putting tolls on the bridges crossing Lake Washington. That toll could range from $5 to $10 round trip. For 184 school days, that could be from $920 to $1840 a year. That is 1.8% to 3.7% of my salary (before taxes!). If the district accepts the union offer and the tolls go up, I will still be making less than I was last year to work in the same district. I fight so that the kids I teach get to keep their well-qualified teacher.

Speaking of well-qualified, I spent many hours last year working on a national teaching certification. Every standard I was held to in this certification said that the paramount responsibility of a teacher is to know their student and customize each lesson to each student in the room. Thanks to the hard work of our union barganing team, the district has nearly accepted the proposed language that almost allows me to do that. I fight to make sure that I can teach to the standards that the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards held me to. No one has mentioned that our increased WASL scores might be attributed to the large number of National Board certified teachers in the district…

I think I understand the counter-arguments to many of my points here.

Contact the school board and the superintendent. Let them know that they should tell their bargaining team to accept the BEA offer in order to get kids back in to schools as quickly as possible. Remind them that Bellevue parents have the power to recall the school board should they choose to use it. Remind them that two of them are up for re-election. Let them know that you value teachers. That 1.5% extra is very little to pay for the high quality teachers that Bellevue was once able to attract and that now travel to Everett, Lake Washington, Marysville, etc. to find pay that is commensurate with their skill. They might find this article helpful. The one that showed that in the Marysville School District, after the 49 day strike, levies eventually passed and that the school board and superintendent were replaced.

Folks, it won’t be easy out there anymore. It won’t do any good to yell at us, because we’re not budging any farther. We’ve lowered our money proposal by several percent, we’ve compromised on curriculum, we’ve settled for status quo on health care (when premiums will assuredly rise!). It’s time that the district makes a concession. They’ll only do that if the parents remind them that parents pay their salaries and that parents elected them and that parents value teachers.

Thank you for your support.

Keywords: bellevue, strike, teacher
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