Sunday, September 24, 2023

Seattle teachers strike over class size, pay


Teachers in Seattle have been on strike, and the first three days of classes—Wednesday, Thursday, and today—were canceled, The Seattle Times and ABC News are reporting.

In any teacher strike, one of the biggest issues is educator pay, and the Seattle teachers’ strike of 2022 is no exception to that general rule. Here, though, Seattle teachers are paid a little less than those in nearby districts, but the biggest issue as far as pay is concerned is the hourly wage paid to paraeducators, $19 an hour, which is also less than neighboring districts.

A related issue in Seattle is the student-to-teacher ratio: the teachers’ union wants it to be lower, with teachers and paraeducators, especially in special education, taking on a smaller caseload or class size. It’s difficult not to tie this issue inextricably to pay, as smaller classes and lighter caseloads for special educators necessarily means hiring more staff.

The union, the Seattle Education Association, or SEA, is demanding that more counselors and nurses be hired and that the wages of other classified staff, such as instructional assistants, be raised so they can afford to live in Seattle.

Superintendent Brent Jones told the Seattle Times he hopes classes resume by Monday. “The teams are moving forward; they’re making progress—certainly not fast enough for me,” he was quoted as saying. “I do desperately want to have everyone back in school. I think we’re coming to an end here soon.”

According to its website, the district is providing meals for students who need them at designated sites. The district serves about 54,000 students, which makes it the 80th largest school district in the US. Teachers in the district last went on strike in 2015.

Paul Katula
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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