Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Tacoma Education Association


A little teacher strike irony

I found it a little ironic Saturday when I read that the Tacoma teachers union was upset that striking teachers’ pay would be delayed (TNT, 9-24). Their first paycheck Oct. 5 will only cover the two days they actually worked before going out on strike. The district claims state law prohibits it from paying for work not done.

Tacoma Education Association president Andy Coons disputes that. He told reporter Debbie Cafazzo that the delay was “retaliatory” on the district’s part. “You are going to have 2,000 families not being able to make their mortgages, not being able to pay

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The poor and disabled are hurt by this strike of choice

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This morning, the Tacoma School District will ask Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff to order the city’s striking teachers back into their classrooms. If the decision hinges on the law – and the welfare of children and their families – there’s only one way he can go.

In its negotiations with the district, the Tacoma Education Association has been pushing for contract provisions that other unions might be pushing for under the same circumstances: protection from pay cuts, additional work and the judgment of principals.

Understandable. What’s not understandable is the strike itself. The teachers could keep on working while their union leaders keep on bargaining, something routinely done when a union contract expires while a new one is being negotiated.

In voting to strike Monday, the TEA and its members showed precious little empathy for the district’s largely low-income families.

Concerns about what’s happening to schoolchildren are callously dismissed. The mantra: “Schools aren’t day care centers.”
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Economic crisis is a poor time for political pettiness

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Last week, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and other Republican leaders devoted themselves to quarreling with the White House about the timing of a presidential address to Congress.

The monumental question: Wednesday? Or Thursday?

Closer to home, the Tacoma Education Association continued its campaign to exaggerate the size of the school district’s rainy day fund and grab as much of it as possible.

Some people apparently have more pressing concerns than the economic hurricane that may be bearing down on the nation, the state and local governments – including the Tacoma School District.

Given the darkening skies, politicians, unions, employers ought to be collaborating anxiously on plans to survive the next couple of years. Not perpetuating old disputes that strike most people as petty and self-serving. Read more »


Tacoma school strike threatens unconscionable family distress

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Decisions to strike are made by unions, so the responsibility for opening Tacoma’s schools on time Thursday rests squarely on the Tacoma Education Association.

Advice: Be there for the children.

This is not question of caving in on everything vs. shutting down the schools. The TEA has a third option – temporarily working without a contract, which is commonly done when public employee unions are at impasse with employers.

It’s not a good option, just the least bad. The school district and the union must figure out how to swallow the Legislature’s

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Tacoma schools must open on time next week

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma School District has long enjoyed a rare degree of community support, as evidenced by successful levies and generous construction funding.

That bond must not be broken lightly – and a potential teachers strike next week threatens to do just that.

Let’s be clear about what led to the tense showdown between Tacoma’s school administrators and teachers.

This isn’t a matter of greedy teachers or callous school officials. A stark conflict was built into their contract talks from the start. District leaders and the Tacoma Education Association are at odds because the Legislature was forced to cut funding for the state’s public schools last spring.

Had the district received money enough to maintain a healthy-sized staff and strong programs – and give teachers the money and small classes they want, everyone would have walked away smiling before now.

Nor are lawmakers the culprits. They were dealt a losing hand by the distressed economy, which forced brutal cuts throughout state government, schools and colleges. The core issue in Tacoma is the core issue everywhere else: The money just ain’t there.
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Tacoma schools should let public in on talks

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Exactly how far apart are the Tacoma School District and its teachers union on the issues most likely to create an impasse in contract negotiations?

Apparently, not even they know.

That should rattle anyone who is counting on school to begin as scheduled Sept. 1.
The parties have met 20 times over two months, and yet – according to the union’s characterization of the sessions – have not broached such topics as wages, evaluations, professional development and class size.

You know, the contract’s minor details.
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Are all those teacher training days untouchable?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Funding for public education is a precious and increasingly scarce – especially in Tacoma, whose school system faces an estimated $13 million shortfall next year.

That’s why everything the school district spends money on must be questioned, including programs embedded in union contracts – especially teacher training.

As The News Tribune’s Debbie Cafazzo reported Sunday, Tacoma Public Schools expects to spend $7.3 million on professional development in its 2011-2012 budget, $6 million of it for teachers.

Most of that money would be spent compensating teachers – at 1.25 times their normal pay – for seven days worth of training offered outside school hours. These “optional days” are provided by the district as part of its agreement with the Tacoma Educators Association.
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