This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
An old conspiracy theory holds that the Washington Education Association – the state teachers union – targets a school district every so often and urges its local union affiliate to stage a bruising strike.
The resulting school closure is as much a display of raw power – a cautionary tale for other districts and the Legislature – as it is a quarrel over the terms of a contract.
We’ve never seen proof, but the strike in Tacoma certainly doesn’t weaken the theory.
The final contract agreement – forcefully brokered by Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday – was no great coup for either the Tacoma Education Association or the school district.
The 2011 Legislature had ordained a 1.9 percent cut in teacher compensation, and it eliminated funding earmarked for holding down class size. In the end, the TEA – which had sought reductions in class sizes – more or less hung on to the status quo, though it gave up a training day that translated into a .5 percent pay cut.
The real flash point was the district’s insistence that administrators be allowed more discretion over which schools teachers are assigned. The union insisted on a traditional system that emphasized seniority.
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