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Washington teacher walkouts continue

Interview with a striking teacher
By staff |
May 21, 2015
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Seattle teachers participated in a one-day walkout strike on May 19. Teachers on the eastern side of Washington state are participating today, May 21. While it is illegal for public school teachers to strike, hundreds of brave teachers, along with other school employees, will be walking off the job to demand that their schools be funded, and that budget cuts against them end now. Fight Back! interviewed Chuck Saari, a public school teacher in the city of Kennewick who is striking today.

Fight Back!: Why are you participating in the strike/walk-out?

Chuck Saari: Washington ranks 47th in class size. A voter-approved initiative would reduce class sizes, but the state legislature has said they will not do it. This is violating the will of the people.

The state supreme court has ruled in the McCleary decision that the state is not fully funding education, which is their paramount duty according to the state constitution.

A voter approved COLA [cost of living adjustment] has been denied to teachers for the last six years. This was approved by 65% of voters.

Newly added federal and state testing requires students to miss weeks of instruction. Republicans in the state legislature want to tie teachers’ evaluations to the test scores.

The cost of health care increases yearly yet the state has not increased their allocation in years. Teachers do not have ‘Cadillac’ health care plans and the Republicans would like to replace the current health care system with a new one that requires startup costs and more state employees to manage.

Around 50 school districts have walked out so far in the state.

Fight Back!: How was it decided that you all would strike?

Saari: We had a meeting of the local teachers union. 81% of teachers voted in favor of the one-day walkout.