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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Teachers' Union Pulls Support for School Closures

From SEA comes the following:

Below is a resolution adopted by the Seattle Education Association (SEA) Board of Directors in opposition to the current school closure plan. This resolution will be voted on by the SEA Representative Assembly on Oct. 23 at West Seattle High School. The meeting begins at 4:15.

ADOPTED BY THE SEA BOARD OF DIRECTORS OCT. 9, 2006

Whereas students of color and low income are disproportionately impacted by the Seattle School District's plans for school closures and consolidation, and

Whereas the $4 million savings from these closures is less than 1% of the operating budget, and

Whereas the Seattle School District has in excess of $20 million in reserves, and

Whereas the opposition to school closures by teachers, parents and other citizens has been overwhelming at school board meetings for the past 4-6 months, and

Whereas the closure plan relies on the use of portables to solve the anticipated student overflow caused by consolidations, and

Whereas disenfranchised citizens, whose schools are targeted for closure, have threatened to organize opposition to the February levy, and

Whereas the double failure of the Maintenance and Operations levy will result in reduced workforce, increased class size and up to 25% reduction in teacher salaries, and

Whereas closure decrees have provoked the filing of lawsuits against the District, the defense of which redirects education dollars for non-education purposes, and

Whereas the mayor envisions a doubling of the city population which will necessitate additional schools or portables, and

Whereas closed schools may be used for efforts to privatize education, and

Whereas the SEA position in "Where We Stand on Closures" is that, "If, in the final analysis, the consolidation of school would create more harm than good, SEA would oppose the final decision to consolidate schools",

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Seattle Education Association Board of Directors withdraw its support from the Seattle School District's phase 1 and phase 2 plans for school closures and consolidations.

And from the Seattle PI article Teachers to vote on pulling backing for school-closure plan, comes the following quote:

Chad Pharis, a Graham Hill Elementary teacher and SEA board member, voted to withdraw support for the current closure plans even though he agrees some schools ultimately need to be closed. He hopes the union will send a message to the district that the current process is hopelessly flawed. "A lot of us are saying this is doing more harm (than good), this is dividing the district," he said. "There has to be a better way to do this."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't this like closing the barn door after the horses have already left?

Anonymous said...

It has always been my perception that the teachers' union supported the closures primarily to save their jobs. They believed that the other cost-cutting option was to lay off teachers. Given the choice between closing schools or laying off teachers to save money they would prefer that we close schools. In fact, given the choice between selling children into slavery or laying off teachers...

No judgement there, that is a union's function.

I suspect that their position is changing for three reasons:

1. The school closures are NOT saving money, so laying off teachers is still on the table. Support for the closures didn't bring them the job security they crave like herion.

2. They were told that the closures would not increase class sizes, but that wasn't true. The consolidated sites are putting together larger classes because they can and because they have a limited number of classrooms, so they have to. With the larger, more efficient classes, teachers will be laid off.

3. They got what they wanted from the agreement, so, in the standard operating practice of Seattle Public Schools, it is time for them to reneg on their promises and turn on their allies.

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