Thousands Rally in Olympia for Smaller Class Sizes, Professional Compensation
The Associated Press reported that more than 4,000 people attended the rally, where students, parents and educators spoke in support of funding for smaller K-12 class sizes and professional pay and benefits for educators.
“It’s great to see educators standing in solidarity for public schools and our students,” said Rep. Steve Bergquist, a Renton teacher who serves in the Legislature.
Gov. Inslee, Sen. Cyrus Habib and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp addressed the crowd. Chopp emphasized his opposition to Senate legislation mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations, and Habib said the Legislature should fully fund the smaller K-12 class sizes approved by voters in I-1351 last fall.
Inslee spoke to the educator COLA and said he is pushing for 4.8 percent, while the Republican Senate budget only has 3 percent. The crowd clearly wanted 12 percent over two years — roughly what lawmakers will receive based on recommendations from the independent salary commission.
Professional pay and health benefits
“It is unfathomable that in our economic powerhouse of a state, that we are ranked 42nd in the nation for teacher compensation. And only offering teachers a 3.0 percent COLA spread out over two years is unacceptable, and in contempt of court. Our rising health care premiums devour that percentage every year when this capital has refused to add even a single dollar to our health care plans for years.” Adam Aguilera, Evergreen Education Association
Smaller class sizes
“I have taken 32 standardized tests. I’ve taken the alphabet soup of tests–WASL, MAPS, MSP, Data Director, EOC, HSPE, and now smart balance (SBAC). I have been told almost every time ‘this will be the last time we change the test on you.’ Tests are forcing teachers to stop teaching creativity in their classrooms. Students are bored, frustrated and exhausted. And we don’t want these tests to be used against our teachers.” Kennedy Gwin, Hoquiam High School student
One-day strikes in 15 districts – for now
“It’s Time to stand up for ourselves and our students. Let’s have a shout out for our colleagues in these 15 locals that have or will stage walkouts. And many, many other locals who are talking to their members and taking votes to determine if they will be taking action now, or in the fall, to protest some of the bad ideas coming out of Olympia.” WEA President Kim Mead
Here are the locals that have voted to strike against the Legislature, and in particular, the Republican Senate’s budget plan:
- Lakewood (April 22)
- Stanwood-Camano (April 22)
- Arlington (April 22)
- Bellingham (April 24)
- Blaine (April 24)
- Conway (April 24)
- Ferndale (April 24)
- Mount Vernon (April 24)
- Anacortes (April 24)
- Sedro Woolley (April 29)
- Bainbridge Island (April 30
- Burlington-Edison (April 30)
- Oak Harbor (May 1)
- Lake Washington (May 6)
- South Whidbey (May 6)
WEA members thank the following legislators who attended the Rally for Education Funding.