Our contracts set not just the conditions for our work as educators, but also set learning conditions for our students. As we open negotiations on new contracts for certificated, paraprofessional and office staff, we have the opportunity to build on our work to raise investment in racial equity, collaboration between educators, and effective teaching, learning, and family support.
Additionally, our bargaining this year all across Washington is also about ensuring that the Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which forced the legislature to finally invest in educator compensation, does not instead merely fill school district reserves or get diverted into secondary priorities. We have special urgency here in Seattle, with our skyrocketing cost of living, to significantly raise our pay.
While we have already been at the table with the District on special education, implementing 24 credits at the high school, and new approaches to professional growth and evaluation, we opened our "main" table this past week, and bargaining team members began sharing with the District some of our key interests and priorities:
"Compensation is a paramount issue for Seattle educators," said Daniel Gross, teacher at Roosevelt. "Every new generation educator struggles with
the reality that we won't be able to live in the city where we work."
Celina Austin, special ed parapro at McGilvra,
said "I don't have choices on where to live because everywhere is too expensive when you have children to care for. We need wages that support us and retain us."
"Staff are clearly interested and making time in their busy schedule to do racial equity work in official and unofficial ways," said Marquita Prinzing, Project Leader of the Seattle Education Association Center for Race and Equity. "We need to expand Race and Equity Teams and get support to the staff doing this critical work."
"Our hope is that all students have access to baseline social emotional learning," said David Bilides, Jane Addams MS counselor. "But that support is hard to come by when elementary counselors could be supporting 1,000 other students and the secondary tier is overwhelmed."
"All office professionals need professional development that allows us to walk into the building ready to go and with a strong foundation," said Elizabeth Ward, admin secretary at Rainier View Elementary and SAEOP president-elect.
"We need assistance if we are going to be successful with all of our students, " said Len Hill, teacher at Hawthorne. "We need more investment consider to help students, staff, and families when we initiate inclusion."
"We value Seattle's students and families, but we need to also show that same level of care and support for Seattle staff's families," said Jessica Torvik, teacher at Nathan Hale. "Our parental leave provisions are simply inadequate."
"Strong site based teams and healthy, collaborative processes develop buy-in and are an asset to administration," said Matt Baudhuin, teacher at Chief Sealth. "We need to protect and build our collaborative decision-making."
We expect to have six or more sessions by the end of June and will continue introducing and delving into these and many other interests and issues.