On Sept. 7, members of the Seattle Education Association went on strike on what was to be the first day of the school year. SEA represents more than 6,000 teachers, paraprofessionals and office workers; 95% of members who submitted a ballot voted to go on strike. Negotiations with the district broke down over district proposals to restructure special education and multi-language learner programs by increasing teacher workloads without increasing teacher compensation.
Liberation News visited the picket line at Broadview-Thomson K-8 and spoke with special education teacher Alicia Nicas. “We’re out here because we want a contract that reflects the needs of our students and the effort and workload of our staff. The district has come together with a task force with SEA representatives, and they have recommendations for special education that I think are really important, but the district doesn’t seem to understand that to roll out a new and inclusive, expansive special education and multi-language learner system, takes an investment. It is not a discount or a budget cut… and the concern is this is how they are looking at it. This is a real workload increase, it’s a collaboration increase and frankly it needs to be a staffing increase, and that’s where the hang up is.”
Nicas added, “We want inclusive classrooms, we want to be in our classrooms, we want to be in our schools teaching, not walking up and down the sidewalk in a picket line, but we need to return to workable standards, where we can actually do what we say we are going to do for our students and not just using slogans.”
As Nicas spoke, her words were frequently interrupted by supportive honks as cars drove by on Greenwood Ave, a relatively busy street in North Seattle. As this article goes to press, the district has canceled school for September 8.