Dear Commons Community,
The Seattle Education Association voted Tuesday afternoon to suspend its strike and return to classrooms starting today.
The vote came after Seattle Public Schools earlier announced a tentative, three-year contract agreement with the educators’ union amid a strike that delayed the start of the school year by five days as they negotiated over improvements to classroom sizes, pay and health services.
“Our strike shows the power that educators and community have when we unite and call for what our students need,” said SEA president Jennifer Matter. “We should all be proud of what we’ve accomplished here for our students and our schools.”
The five days students missed will need to be made up during the school year, the district said in a statement. As reported by CNN.
“We are thrilled to welcome students and educators back into our classrooms to start this new school year. We are excited to engage fully in our mission — our moral imperative — of high-quality teaching and learning,” said Superintendent Brent Jones.
The strike began last Wednesday, which was scheduled as the first day of school for about 50,000 students in the Seattle school district.
The action came as schools around the country face shortages of teachers, who are increasingly voicing frustration at being underpaid and underappreciated, teaching in crowded classrooms and in challenging conditions made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Seattle, educators went on strike to demand more support for students, including interpretation and translation services for those receiving multilingual education, and improved special education staffing ratios, according to the Seattle Education Association, which represents about 6,000 employees.
“We’re educators. We don’t have lots of experience with striking. It’s not what we want to be doing. We want to be in our schools with our students,” teacher Ellen Santarelli said in a Facebook video. “However, to get what our students need … we are willing to go outside of our comfort zones — thousands of steps outside of our comfort zones.”
The union also advocated for higher wages and more support and controls to prevent educator burnout, including capping some class sizes.
Good to see that an agreement was reached!