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Teachers should vote – to remain in their classrooms

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Sep. 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm with 12 Comments »
September 9, 2011 2:49 pm

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Both sides in the contract dispute between the Tacoma School District and its teachers claim to want what’s best for the kids.

They have starkly different visions of what that is. Teachers want to hold the line on salaries, class sizes, and policies regarding displacements and transfers. School administrators, facing state and federal mandates to improve performance and the prospect of yet more budget cutbacks, want more flexibility from the teachers union so that they can deal with those challenges.

Here’s what’s unquestionably best for kids: to be in school. Tomorrow.

Tacoma’s teachers should vote today not to strike, to keep teaching and to continue negotiating without a contract. If they do vote to strike, the administration should immediately seek a court injunction. Any judge that gets the case should assess daily fines on teachers who do not report to their classrooms.

That would be an appropriate response to an illegal strike. And strikes by any public employee union are illegal. A 2006 opinion by state Attorney General Rob McKenna states that “state and local public employees, including teachers, have no legally protected right to strike” and that “courts may grant injunctive relief to prevent or end unlawful strikes.” Courts have frequently done just that.

Even if a lot of kids like the idea of having some time off now that the weather has warmed up, that’s time they would have to make up at the other end of the school year. Tacoma’s schoolchildren should be in their classrooms and learning, not waiting for their school leaders and teachers to agree on a contract that should have been cemented over the summer.

A strike would be a major headache for many Tacoma families. Unless they’re fined, teachers incur no financial loss by striking – but parents could.

Working parents who are unable to arrange last-minute child care may have to stay home from work – and not all employers allow that. Not working may mean not getting paid or even losing their job.

In this economy, that’s no small thing. Teachers won’t lose their jobs by striking, but they should consider the impact it could have on their students’ families, many of whom earn far less than teachers.

There are reasonable, well-meaning people on both sides of this dispute. Surely they can agree to keep working on a contract, to find common ground and compromise, and to do what’s really best for the kids – educate them.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    Hear! Hear!

  2. ltkeffer says:

    Of course they are going to say this. ‘keep working, they will eventually get there,’ yeah, right. The district needs to feel some of this pain, as they could have avoided this had they been reasonable. Too bad for the daycare parents as they only think of the schools as a daycare facility anyways.

    If a parent hasn’t by now made plans for what is coming, they are at fault for not being aware of what is coming.

  3. geeterpontiac says:

    Good editorial and right on.

    If they strike, fine them! It’s time to show some respect for the law.

    I find it interesting that those in the teaching profession often show little respect for the law when that respect puts a crimp in their personal desires.

    What a great example and lesson to teach the kids.

    Obey the law only when it is convenient.

  4. jtarleton says:

    This rallying cry that we’re a nation of laws doesn’t cut muster any more…wish it did. Laws and justice in the USA today is often based on who you know and how much money you have. Nowadays the justice you get is based on how much you have to pay for it. Sad …but true

  5. Teachers are not daycare workers, and many of them have children they would like to see in school. It is shameful the news tribune reduces our educators to care takers, and insinuates rich and greedy people.

    Many teachers hold second jobs to help with student loans, continuing education, and with their students/classrooms. Not every teacher makes the “average” published in the paper. Contrary to what the tacoma news tribune thinks teachers have shouldered much of the economic burden. Students come into the classroom hungry, stressed, worried, mad, with few supplies and sometimes without utilities and homes. Teachers at schools spend countless hours of unpaid time providing the support to help students feel safe and secure enough to learn. Can the news tribune say that?

    I guess teachers and public employees are the latest to be blamed and punished for our economic woes while the top still receive their bonuses.

  6. Yes! Go back to work! Never stand up for anything, do whats right for everybody else. Way to go TNT, once again telling people that are trying to better their workplace to keep their head down. I hope these teachers get what they deserve. They volunteer to do a job nobody wants to do. And all they are tring to do is better their enviroment. Go get’m educators! Union

  7. ladyrider says:

    schools are NOT day care, I agree with that 100%, however teachers and the TEA refuse to compromise on ANY of the disputed points of negotiations. Given my personal experience with teachers and their lack of any kind of assistance or communication with the parents, I ahve to admit I am NOT suprised in the least. District originally wanted to increase class size by 1, TEA wanted to reduce by 1, Dist compromised, offering to keep the same as existing, TEA said no.

    dist offered alternatives to pay reduction, teachers want increase and fewer days.

    dist want to change to performance based involuntary transfers / TEA says no, seniority based, so our more senior teachers don’t have to be qualified, just be there. Younger, potentially more effective teachers, get the boot, simply because they haven’t been there as long – AS A PARENT, I WANT IT BASED ON PERFORMANCE – NOT SENIORITY.

    What I see in these comments from teachers is that they hate students, and their parents. if that is the case, why did you CHOOSE to become a teacher? I do NOT want my kids stuck in an environment with adults who obviously hate them. Talk about poisioning our next generation. If you can’t handle the job – please quit and do something more to your liking. You obviously don’t like teaching and are NOT in this for the beenfit of the children.

  8. ladyrider says:

    my apologies for the typo’s

  9. olympicmtn says:

    Here is the new reality for the UNION workers and PUBLIC employees; please read carefully because it is already occurring in the private sector.

    *Working more, doing more for less

    *Working the jobs of 2+ employees, with added support work handled by the
    employee and not support services such as IT, HR, Finance, etc..

    *Lean Operations=Multitasking and developing operations more efficiently

    *Paying more out of pocket benefits for health care, 401K (while companies are moving away from “guaranteed” pension plans)

    *Holding off major purchases due to unknown tax burdens and unknown global economic inflation indicators

    *Cutting mid level and senior managers, hiring for lower paid positions

    Basically, if you think these high paid jobs are coming back in force like the 1990’s think again. Corporations have already cut executive jobs in half and some have eliminated all senior positions unless it is a “essential job” signed off by 3 VPs and Finance. And Washington State pensions are in debt $50Billion and the NEXY REALITY will be HOW TO PAY FOR THE BLOATED “GUARANTEED” PENSION PLANS for state workers.

    Get ready class size, seniority will be the least of our worries because before next year we all will be talking about how to recover from the bloated “guaranteed pension plans.”

  10. I find it interesting the number of people that continue to say “If you were cared about the children you would keep working without a contract” How about if you the general public cared about the children you would be will to part with more for good teachers. If my boss used this kind of negotiating I would laugh at him while enjoying my time fishing.
    I Don’t believe in public unions, I think they should be outlawed but the state of Washington mandades them and forces all Public School teachers to join. Therefore I see no reason why they should not strike if they choose.

  11. Chippert says:

    “Teachers at schools spend countless hours of unpaid time providing the support to help students feel safe and secure enough to learn.”

    I hear this from many teachers and the fact is, that is just not true. A teacher is paid a salary, not by the hour. I am paid the same way. If my job requires me to put in more than 40 hours in the week (and it often does), then I put in that time. I am not compensated by the hour and neither are teachers. I wish I never, ever heard that one again!

    As for teachers getting a second job, that is very true. But it comes during the “summer vacation”. What other professions give you that much time off to even find a second job? Not very many! And if you figure the average salary of $63,000 annualized over 12 months instead of ten, that is the equivalent of $75,600.00. Not a bad salary at all!

  12. southhillliberal says:

    Chippert below is right. When I first started teaching, I volunteered as a coach and club leader. This took countless extra hours planning and going to events, in addition to the extra time I spent at night carefully writing comments on student papers. Today, when I catch myself wanting to be the “great teacher”- I think of Chippert (below) and his ilk; school administrators; and unappreciated colleagues who burned themselves out. I now make it a point to be very careful about volunteering, and only do things that I can do within Chippert’s 40 hour work week. This is why america has such a great educational system.

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