crossing the (picket) line

every so often, you get lucky enough to have had a teacher who made an impact, a significant impact, in your life.

i was uber-lucky. i had two. mrs. robinson and ms. mikolasy.

these two lovely ladies were involved. they loved their students. they demanded the best from them and got angry when they didn’t get it. and you wanted to give them your best.

i love teachers. my BF is one. several of my former classmates went on to be teachers. i do not understand the point of teacher strikes.

in general, i find strikes to be a major pain in the ass and not at all helpful. boeing likes to go on strike. the longshoremen want to go on strike. and unfortunately, teacher strikes are a not uncommon occurrence in western washington. the longest ever recorded was in the marysville school district in 2003, lasting for 50 days. 50. 50 fuckin’ days. that’s a long time for a kindergartener to be waiting to start school.

i’ll confess my ignorance at this point in just how teacher pay is funded. i know that funding for education in the state of washington comes from district levies and the state budget. beyond that, i don’t know how teachers get paid.

growing up, the teachers in my district, shoreline, went on strike exactly once. i was in third grade, and i barely remember it. we had maybe two days off, and it was in the middle of winter-my teacher slipped on the picket line on some ice and sprained her wrist. the levies always passed in our district, though, and funding for anything at schools was rarely ever in question. of course, my view is pretty insular: i never wanted for anything. if there was something the school offered and i wanted it, my parents found a way for me to get it (yet another reason why my parents are the most awesome parents EVER).

the tacoma teachers association is out on strike. two of the issues the union and the district are unable to agree on? the perennial ones of teacher pay and class size. i let out a very loud groan when i heard that.

the state budget forecast is calling for a massive shortfall AGAIN this fiscal year. this will mean cuts to everything under the sun, and yes, that will include education. which means that classes will get larger.

what bothers me the most about this strike is that it comes not only at a time when there is no money to meet their demands, but that they started the school year, and then went out on strike. i’m picturing all those excited kindergarteners and first graders (you know, the ones who get super excited about going to school for the first time?) and then their cute little faces crumpling into tears when they’re told, again, they won’t be going to school tomorrow.

i support smaller class sizes. i support paying teachers a butt load of money to teach future generations, because they deserve it. i do not support the teacher’s strike.

i’ve never been able to understand what causes sides in negotiations to be so unyielding. the teacher’s union won’t back down, claiming the district has the resources to give them what they want. the district won’t back down because they claim they can’t give the union everything they’re asking for. with a projected budget shortfall of an additional $1.3 billion for this fiscal year, the thought of asking for more money is just ludicrous.

if someone wishes to explain to me how striking is helping children, i’m all ears. but from my outsider, no-kids standpoint, they’re wasting taxpayer dollars. suck it up, tacoma teachers. you pay your union dues to have them negotiate for you. that’s their job. now go and do yours.

*image via the LA times

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