Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy Education Funding Work Party Day!

Dear Governor Inslee & Education Funding Work Group:

The Seattle Teachers' strike is over but many remain unsatisfied. I'm still vibrating with ill-feelings and doubts. Not toward the heroic teachers and parents who showed a ferocious unity this past month, but to the political landscape that allows schools to fall so far down in our priorities. We must fix this. The Seattle contract isn't perfect and isn't everything the teachers wanted but it is a hell of a lot better than what the District first countered with. We shouldn't have to get this desperate to accomplish something so necessary and obvious. 

The Stranger Magazine suggested implementing a state income tax just like New Jersey did in 1976 which buoyed it's schools. I know Washington State voted down an initiative proposing one in 2010 but we need to try again. Now that we know why an income tax will be so vital and what the consequences of going without one look like, we need to try again.

I can't help thinking: if Washington state is important enough to China--the second largest economy in the world--and its president visited here FIRST before going to our own nation's capital--that's really saying something. Washington state is home to global companies that change the way society lives, works and plays. The citizens and workers we raise and educate quite literally change the world. So please, fulfill the duty and mandate that has been set forth to fully-fund education.
I am a Washington voter, taxpayer, native-born resident (Vancouver, WA), graduate of Washington State University and the parent of a 1st grader in Seattle’s public schools--with another child starting Kindergarten in a few years. I urge the State to take *speedy* and *decisive* action to give all our children the amply funded education they deserve.

Make this day count. 
Thank you!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

In the Strike Zone

It's hard not to lose a little faith in the system during this strike. To not take it personally that Seattle Public Schools betrayed the trust with parents. We put our children and their futures in the hands of this system, and we trust SPS will find the best ways to educate them, retain the most qualified staff & teachers and provide a holistic education that nurtures their minds, bodies & spirits. Yet what's being revealed of SPS through the late negotiations, retention of legal services and disingenuous tone (when they finally do speak to the public) is an apathy--a disdain.

Why is this? Is Nyland just a frontman for a School Board drunk with power? Is this a larger issue of funding at the state level that might create a larger judicial & legislative crisis? Is this a symptom of efforts to privatize schools (charter schools)? Is there too much of a hierarchy in the SPS which requires "funding" before the teachers? 

I stand with the teachers (of course) yet at the same time I've had to quell my disappointment especially for our daughter and all the new Kindergarten families we know who didn't get to start this week. But I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I can absorb the inconvenience of her being out of school for as long as it takes. Obviously many other parents/teachers/staff members can't do that but it would be tragic if SPS successfully wears down the parents and teachers into accepting something subpar just to end this standoff--effectively turning parents against their kids' own best interests. 

But whatever happens, things will never be the same. It makes me wonder, since we're at the beginning of our relationship with SPS, is this what we can come to expect from them? 

Where I had never known before who my school board district rep is (looking at you, Sharon Peaslee), I know now so when reelection comes up, I will remember your name--and not in a good way. This process has swung the unrelenting, inquisitive eye of parents/voters/taxpayers/community members to take a long look into how schools are run and how teachers are treated by their employer. This is good for me as a parent to know and it shouldn't be taken for granted.
But what really encourages me, is that despite how hard the job is, how under appreciated and under compensated it remains, there are amazing teachers still dedicated to it. Teachers, who make the best of a strike by making something like this...