Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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Teachers restless, many on strike in the West

Classes in Tacoma Public Schools in Washington State, which were scheduled to begin today, have been canceled, because the district and the teachers’ union failed to reach an agreement, The Seattle Times reports. Some schools in the district will provide free meals for students, and all athletic activities are expected to continue.

The school district posted an apology on its website, reading in part:

We are sorry that this uncertainty so close to the start of school is stressful and creates a hardship for you and your families. The district negotiating team is working hard to reach a fair agreement with the Tacoma Education Association as quickly as possible.

Lightning strikes, Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Chris Boswell/iStock)

Teachers in Seattle avoided a strike and reported to school Wednesday, although union officials warned that the new contract could result in layoffs. But several districts in the state, mainly on the West Coast, are either on strike or close to striking as the school year begins.

In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district is at the bargaining table with teachers’ unions. Teachers there voted to authorize a strike last week, despite more than a year of negotiations, mainly over teacher salaries and class sizes. The Los Angeles Unified School District said what the teachers had proposed in negotiations would threaten the district financial solvency. Teachers continue to be frustrated, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Some observers and other educators have compared the strikes to those in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Those strikes, however, were over disagreements between state legislators and teachers, whereas the situations in Los Angeles and Washington State mainly involve disputes between unions and the local school districts that employ their members.


Negotiations in Los Angeles could run into October before any strike is actually called. And whether it’s the legislature or the district teachers have a problem with, the effect is the same: As the teaching profession is de-funded, teachers will leave. Many already work second jobs to make ends meet, and if their salaries don’t keep up with the cost of living or get reduced, many teachers will just leave the profession or won’t make it in the first place.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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