Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: teacher strike


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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Thank Chris Gregoire for ending Tacoma’s pointless strike

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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While teachers walk picket lines, many students go hungry

This editorial is scheduled to appear in Thursday’s print edition. Should Tacoma teachers agree to go back to work before our print deadline, a different editorial will appear Thursday.

Making sure kids are learning is the most important reason to end Tacoma’s teacher strike, and it’s why Gov. Chris Gregoire’s intervention in the contract negotiations is welcome.

But there’s another reason teachers need to go back to work: making sure many of their students aren’t going hungry.

About 18,000 students – more than half of Tacoma schoolchildren – are from families so poor that they qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch. Not all of those children actually take advantage of the program. But for those who do, the food they get at school may be the only regular, nutritious meals they get all day. Read more »


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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