SEA members show up big in Olympia and Seattle for MLK, joined by Superintendent Nyland
More than 600 SEA members took part in the Martin Luther King Day of Action. The day started early as members gathered at Rainier Beach and Roosevelt High Schools to assemble their school signs and board buses to Olympia for a rally and march to support fully funding public education in our state.
"It's not a day off, it's a day on,"
Veronica Pugh, IA at Denny Middle School, told our Rep Assembly last week.
It sure was: more than 600 SEA members stood with another 6000 WEA members on the steps of the state Capitol to demand full funding for education.
Superintendent Larry Nyland joined us on the steps in Olympia, and
school board member Jill Geary rode down with us on the bus.
As a team of SEA members stayed behind to visit with our legislators as they started this critical legislative session, the rest boarded the buses and headed back north to march in solidarity with over 10,000 members of the Seattle community to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
"It was so powerful to see the MLK march coming down Union, being greeted by hundreds of of educators covering all six corners of the intersection of 12th and Madison." said
Phyllis Campano, SEA President. "The youth leading the march were pointing at our school signs and waving and cheering!"
Tell the school board: "Educators before books!"
While it's true that SPS may need new curriculum adoptions, it would be a mistake to lay off staff in order to pay for them. At the January 10, 2017 SPS Board meeting, the board initiated the adoption and purchase of the district reviewed ELA curriculum. The ELA adoption would cost the district $5 million. With a budget shortfall already over $70 million, this would entail laying off at least 50 staff! Additionally, the board wants to budget another $7 million more as yet unspecified curriculum purchases next year. That's at least another 70 layoffs!
Please contact the board and let them know that the first priority is making sure we have the educators to teach and work with our kids. The loss of an educator will directly impact class size and disrupt positive relationships built in a school for our students that a new curriculum cannot replace. Once we have the funding from the legislature to do that, then we can move forward with curriculum adoptions.
Make sure to include where you work and what you do for our kids!
SEA members help pass measure to make renting more affordable
With rents skyrocketing in Seattle, fewer and fewer of our members can afford to live in the city. When rent on an apartment is $1500, you might need almost $5000 for first, last and deposit!
We teamed up with WACAN (Washington Community Action Network) to lobby our city council for some common sense relief: require landlords to offer payment plans for costs beyond the first month's rent.
"We are all educators and whether a member is a paraprofessional or a teacher just starting out, we don't have four or five thousand extra dollars sitting in our checking accounts," said
Gwendolyn Jimerson, Parapro Vice President and Family Services Provider for Head Start.
"The landlords really fought back hard against this ordinance, but we've got to make sure that our families and our coworkers can work and live in Seattle."
Our efforts helped pass the new ordinance, which goes into effect this month.
New project brings books to students who are homeless
"With about 25% of Northgate students
currently experiencing homelessness, I got
to thinking about what reading resources they have outside of their school day," said Kate Eads, teacher librarian at Northgate Elementary (@EadsReads).
Eads, a member of the SEA Center for Race and Equity Planning and Design team, and Kristine McLane, librarian at North Beach, are now launching a Mary's Place Leveled Children's Library, and have started a Thursday StoryTime in their Kids Club. 5th graders at North Beach are joining in the project as well. The team is also putting together waterproof and move-able tubs for the two Tent Cities that welcome families.
"This started with a hallway conversation with my principal, moved to getting permission from Mary's Place and Tent City 3, then spread to getting the word out among colleagues. It was then that I connected with the North Beach teacher-librarian, Kristine McLane, who offered to pull in the North Beach student and parent community."
Eads then created a Facebook page (
) to spread the word much wider. Librarians are now scanning their shelves for suitable donations, parents are dropping off books from their kids' collections, and other educators have signed up to read at Story Time.
"No matter what we do within our schools and classrooms to increase learning opportunities - to break down the inequitable distribution of resources, for example - we are still facing an epic monster of inequity outside our school doors," said Eads. "This project pushes into that space."
New ESA caseload language makes the difference
"Our new caseload language was a major win in contract bargaining," said
Vaughan Amare, psychologist. "Our ESA caseloads (including the Educational Staff Associates of school psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and audiologists) have grown out of control, and we are so grateful for how our SEA colleagues rallied around us and won enforceable caseload caps."
Enforceable caseloads are a real change, so we knew our contract would be put to the test immediately.
As the ESA groups reviewed staffing levels last spring, we saw that one of the smallest groups, the audiologists, should have had an additional .75 FTE.
When special ed administration initially resisted paying out the FTE, we filed a grievance together as ESAs.
"All the ESA groups contributed critical input to the discussion on caseload language," said
Elspeth Trejo-Savani, SLP. "Making sure we got the right language for each group gave us clear grounds to pursue a grievance."
Special ed administrators have now agreed that the .75 FTE should have been filled, and now must be paid out to the audiologists who took on the additional caseloads.