Seattle Schools' Teachers on Strike

You have to be many things to be a teacher - tough is one of them.


Wondering said…
First off, I want to say that I support the teachers, and I am a parent who has been looking forward to the first day of school for my two kids for a LONG TIME.

Having never experienced a strike before, I am curious about the way the strike works and how long it is likely to go. I just read that Friday is already planned for community service (instead of picketing), and thought it was interesting that the assumption seems to be that there will be no school all week. I realize nobody can predict the future, but how do things things tend to play out? Are negotiations happening right now? Should parents expect updates from the district? As a parent and taxpayer, I kind of want to know what's up.

Thanks to all of you who make this blog such a wealth of information.
Anonymous said…
I agree with this comment. What is going on? Is there just an assumption that school is a long way off from starting. Is there no sense of urgency on either side? Seems like both sides should be meeting today to come up with something.
Anonymous said…
I no longer have a school-age child, but heard something this morning that surprised me. Dave Ross on KIRO radio was interviewing a spokesperson for the teachers and he asked where the teachers expected the extra money for the requested raises will come from. The teacher said that it should come from the legislature through the McCleary Act, that they should call a special session for this. All along the impression I've had was that the district can/should find this money from within. Have I been mistaken? That's certainly the tone this blog takes, but IS the SEA asking for the STATE to fund this raise?

Callme Confused
Anonymous said…
It that's where they think the money will come from, school will never start.
I can only give my (limited)view (not being a teacher and not having lived thru another strike).

1) Usually, teacher strikes are about a week or less. That said, I do not think that will be the case unless the district moves towards the SEA direction. I say the district should move because they were even offering half the money that the SEA wanted. That seems less-than-helpful and it looks cheap given all the money the district has in reserve plus the money they took from the Capital budget.

2) I do not believe they are negotiating now. I think one side has to have something to bring to the table and both think they have done that, hence the strike. There is nothing stopping either side from asking to resume.

3) Yes, parents should expect updates from the district. That said, I will try to keep my ear to the ground to see what both sides are saying.

Unless the district gets religion, the strike may be weeks. I think Nyland has drawn a line in the sand that has now hardened teachers' hearts. Ditto on the Board.

But parents have power to pressure the district to do better (or, if you believe they have done enough, to support their refusal to pay more). You must send the Board an e-mail with your concerns and stand because they are likely to be tallying what comes to them.
Anonymous said…
Go to the Seattle Times, there is an article about how the funding scheme, whoops I mean plan, is about

This is the link

it does an amazing job for the Times to actually explain this debate.

And for those who are worried about learning you know home schooling is an option and could easily be done as a collective with any Teacher more than willing to help as part of their community service.

Call the union and ask them I bet they could easily give you names or that group with the Soup...

You could set up a mini class in a library or community center or City Hall! I like that one.. good coffee stand in the lobby btw

--- hope that helps
Call Me Confused, the McCleary money is not complete. So if that money came in, it would likely be enough to fund what the teachers want (or close to it). But the district controls all the money and they have never said what they would do with McCleary money.

I do not say the district has tons of extra money but they certainly have a lot. They chose to cry poor one day and then turnaround and hire/spend money the next. The fact that they were going to give raises to everyone at JSCEE should tell you something. The fact that Ron English is "retired" and yet on the payroll until January should tell you something.

Sidewalk walker said…
Events are planned only if we are not back to work. Believe me, we would all much rather be back in our classrooms working with children than out walking a picket line all day long. Teachers' nature is to have a positive attitude but we all know that this is going to get old very fast. We we are only doing this because we have to do to obtain decent conditions for your children and yes, for us too.

We are on a very busy street with hundreds of drivers honking and waving in support. Personally, I didn't expect the support to be so overwhelmingly pro teacher. Out of thousands of drivers there's only been one who stopped to scream at us to stop teaching evolution.
Tweet from Ed Week:

If you're a Seattle educator, parent, or student, tell us how this strike is affecting you. Email, or tweet away #EdWeekTeacher
Anonymous said…
Sidewalk walker

Thank you for the laugh.. okay the evolution thing is hilarious..wonder what school district he grew up in!

I am going with the 18th as the end of day.. putting us about 10 days late start which is not all that bad so a week added to the end of year and a pick up of the two lost days in holidays or in service days. As for inclement weather.. then add a day or two at most.. so late June end of year. So no one will die or have the strum drang of Chicago or Phillly, Seattle is just a conflict adverse town by nature.

But I wonder what the long range real issues that will come of this, as I can see in this blog and on other sites a divisive tone and narrative that frankly concerns me.

But again parents home school cooperatives would be fun and interesting just for that alone.. it does suck about space and materials but these community center places should be able also to assist to arrange that aspect.

- Hope this helps
Anonymous said…
From Ross Hunter's page on the timeline to solve McCleary,

"Most of the things we’re talking about need three to six months of lead time before then, so the practical constraint is July 1, 2016."

That's less than ten months from now, just sayin'.

Anonymous said…
To add to Melissa's point above, the fact that downtown has been on an HQ hiring spree reminiscent of the height of Goodloe-Johnson's regime, and that they came to the meeting last night asking for a raise for administrators, means JSCEE has priorities and it isn't in direct classroom services. For the union to have to fight for caseload limits on class aides and parapros when you could hire 3 or more instead of 1 downtown administrator? That's telling huh? And what are we getting for those buck bangs? Is it better capital planning or innovative classroom ideas? No. It's special education management paper pushers to meet state mandates while still managing to fail addressing the actual special education kids in the classroom. Its increased class size loads. It's the usual lackluster professional development. It's covering legal fees. It's paying off the damn mortage on that albatross of a headquarters.

The teachers can sit out all year long as far as I'm concerned if it will once and for all break the cycle of hubris downtown. Let's blow up the whole district pyramid and start at the start again. Attract and retain creative, hardworking teachers. (Hint: That means paying them great salaries, giving them classroom autonomy within the law, and aiding them in procuring services they need for their students.) Insist as a district on smaller class sizes. Don't care if that means split shifts at crowded schools or teaching in a tent on a playground field. Students and teachers MUST have a reasonable expectation on individual interaction daily.

Add staff and support in service to these basics. Every job at HQ scrutinized and ranked as to how closely it adheres to that mission. Trim from above not below. And don't whine that it can't be done. Of course it can be done. It means fewer downtown services. Obvious downsides to that, but we can't have it all and we will never get out of this JSCEE madness cycle until the student/teacher classroom needs are the root of all budgeting. Will JSCEE do this? Not on its own. So it comes to the SEA. Not a perfect organization but the only one to force the change.

Stubborn mules don't like to be moved. As I started this post, let the teachers strike for months. Kicking the mule after decades of watching the JSCEE nonsense is about the only tactic left that I can see. The decades of students and teachers coming after this year's restart will thank this year's SEA for finally putting some spurs into the mule's side.


Lynn said…
There is a full week for mid-winter break on the calendar. There's four days we can add without changing the last day of school.
Anonymous said…
Seattle public schools actually has a decent site up updating progress:

To be honest I expected MORE spin from the district. This is an inherently political process. SEA is obviously spinning when they put out updates and go on the news- exactly as I would expect, and as I personally would behave if I was in the middle of a political negotiation. SPS is some(especially about how much progress they have made), but has remained somewhat complimentary of SEA. It's a little puzzling. Do they think parents are just kind of indifferent or something?

Seattle teacher strikes last somewhere around 20 days. I have not been able to figure out if that includes weekends, or if it is a month(4 weeks of 5 days). I am trying to make plans for 3-4 weeks of care. If it doesn't come together over the weekend, I would expect late October. Which is enraging. I want to pressure the district, and have, but I also think the teachers need to compromise more, and the district bargaining chair seems really unwilling to compromise, which is not the best fit for a negotiating chair. It's too much ground for one side to cover. Do we know who the mediator is? Are we sure they are good?

That list of unagreed proposals is incredibly long. I suppose we will see if the district still appears "fair" when they update after a new SEA counter proposal. Right now it looks like a lot of rejections from SEA just because that is where we are in the process, but if they are fair it should swap the next time they meet (which should be today?? I hope???).

Anonymous said…
DistrictWatcher said, "Let's blow up the whole district pyramid and start at the start again. Attract and retain creative, hardworking teachers. (Hint: That means paying them great salaries, giving them classroom autonomy within the law, and aiding them in procuring services they need for their students.)"

In other words, let's start charter schools. Oh, wait...

Citizen Kane
KUOW also looking for input:

Parents and students, we'd like to hear from you. What are your plans for the first day of the strike? What do you think about the issues teachers have raised? Comment here or call 206.221.3663
Anonymous said…
I am solely looking at "school" days so thank Lynn although I am still thinking a few days will be added somewhere for something.

So there are currently 3 options that I can see.. striking and still negotiating in earnest. And that being settled in my guesstimation the 18th at the latest with school back on Monday the 21st.

Then we have the injunction function. I am nowhere near sure when that could happen but I think they could not get into a courtroom earlier than Monday. So Judge rules and that would put first day the 16th..

Then we have option 3 Teachers go Pasco (its the new Postal) and stay striking. Then it puts us way later on my calendar to say the 28th of September.

I am basing my theories on of course my own rationale - that being the reality of a city that is too expensive to live in without income for a month or longer. A city who doesn't do conflict well and is increasingly white collar.

I do see regardless of the length of this strike an emerging well no it exists now but will be more openly demonstrated, a divisiveness between the young new staff and the blue hairs. Then we have the sub issue and that was an ugly exchange in other posting between some "n" person and a man who gave his name. Wow just wow on that.

So I expect more divide, less conquer that will come of it for adults but kids..they are a resilient lot and will be undoubtedly more informed about income inequity than most. That cannot be a bad thing.

(And District Watcher you are old skool my friend old skool...but hey Bernie Sanders is running for Prez)

- Hope this helps
Great list of children's books on labor

Thank you to Professor Wayne Au of UW Bothell for this.
Lynn said…
DistrictWatcher - you are eloquent as always.

Off to join our teachers!
Anonymous said…
While most teachers I've spoken with were betting on a 3-5 day strike, with some up to two weeks, the rush to file an injunction actually infuriated teachers even more instead of helping encourage those who want to bargain and get it over with. Everybody thinks that downtown really needed a wake-up call with the strike vote - and downtown bloat is a big part of the problem. There is a sense among some that filing the injunction (understandable if 2-3 weeks already) hardened the resolve among teachers to stay out a bit longer if needed, and it stirred up passions against Nyland who overall had seemed like the most neutral of the recent Superintendents.

That the JSCEE staff couldn't see this coming for the last couple of years is the best clue as to how clueless they are about what's happening in the schools. Board should push for a 20% reduction in downtown JSCEE staff (and probably time to sell the JSC and get smaller offices spread over a couple blocks so there's less of a centralized culture). The JSC not only isn't being paid off but it's acerbated the issue of a downtown corporate-like structure that is increasingly out of touch with the needs of the schools.

Anonymous said…
MW:"The fact that Ron English is 'retired' and yet on the payroll until January should tell you something."

It sure does. So what was this "hush money" for anyway?

Outsider said…
Pardon a dumb question (or several) but

-- how much do teachers make? Everyone is expected to take sides, but it's almost taboo to mention what they are actually paid. My vague sense is, the average Seattle teacher makes around $70K cash plus healthcare, pension, and other benefits that probably take total comp up to around $90K. The median household (not individual but household) income in metro Seattle was quoted at $67,500 in 2013 by the Census Bureau. Median income in the whole US for people with bachelor's degree or more was about $50K in 2010. The numbers are slippery because they are never clear whether it's just cash or total comp, and employed full time or all people. But teachers don't seem like the oppressed of the earth. If their total comp were $90K, a household with just one teacher would be at about the 75th percentile for income nationally. Teachers earn less than brogrammers at Amazon but more than most people. They make more than me. What is the fair ratio of teacher comp to average comp?
-- When SPS advertises a job opening, do they hear the sound of crickets, or need crowd control? My sense was more the latter, based on anecdotal evidence. What's the real story?
-- Who will pay the taxes to pay higher teacher salaries? Even if the cash comes from the money tree in Olympia, someone still has to "fertilize" it. Does fair teacher pay = state income tax?
Truth is the first casualty of war, and information is the first casualty of labor disputes. All the above questions seem relevant and important but subject to radio silence.
Anonymous said…
If you go to the next blog post called odds and ends there is a link which gives you the salary breakdown if every single individual person in every school district throughout the state

So click on Seattle and then have at it. Curious as to what your kids Teacher makes it's there including stipends and insurance -

Very revealing info as the bureaucracy seems to have intersting views of thier salary tier vs the great unwashed

The only people not on that list are contacted employees such as bus drivers nor Substitute Teachers

I have seen the one unpleasant exchange between a sub and a teacher but none on the extraneous other bodies who build a school - janitors, aides, secretaries, home school liason, attendance clerks, school security .

I have no idea about how they are affected but they too are and may not qualify for an type of wage compensation loss if this goes on to long

But check out that link

- hope this helps
Anonymous said…
The board simply approved a motion to file an injunction. They haven't done it yet and it is unclear when/if they will.

Also wondering when they will meet again.

We'll See
Anonymous said…
I'm with the teachers all the way.

National news samples:

Seattle Teachers Launch First Strike in 30 Years

Patrick said…
Outsider, I last looked it up about 6 years ago, but at that time $70K was on the high end of the scale. Teachers with a lot of seniority made that much, but their junior colleagues started a lot lower.

The comparisons to the nationwide median are irrelevant, because they include the vast lower-price, lower-wage parts of the country where houses cost $50K.

Also most teachers have master's degrees, so that should be your basis for comparison.

I would actually be happy to have my child's teachers be better compensated than Amazon employees. Amazon doesn't have the future in its hands.

Thought because Bd meeting was cancelled, I wouldn't be going to JSCEE. But maybe:

"No breakthrough or new talks but SPS plans a briefing for media at HQ at 3 pm, w/at least 2 members of its bargaining team."


"But teachers don't seem like the oppressed of the earth."

No one said they were. The majority of people in this country live much better than the majority of people in the world.

I don't know that I think it fair to judge a job with just any other job. Teachers have seen more changes to what they do and how they do it in the last 5+ years than more people in their jobs. They are being asked to be counselors and social workers. They are asked to teach larger classes. If I were to compare (given the gun violence in this country), I say you might compare them with cops or firefighters.

Where to find the money, you ask and it's a good question. As I asked the Governor at his press conference in July, "Is it really about public ed funding or funding our state?" He wouldn't answer. I believe we are getting more and more to the point of either finding state funding in other ways or we will be at a breaking point. We're not a poor state but we can't keep running like this.
Anonymous said…
But wouldn't the comparison be other professions with similar educational requirements? Generally humanities, and not as competitive and risky as landing an Amazon job? Social workers, paralegals, journalists. Other professions which similarly deserve respect, but aren't making 90k (which is the top end now, I believe. There are many teachers on that spreadsheet mentioned above making that much, plus 10k in benefits, so 100k in total comp, though I think 90k is the salient number). Plus a pension. Much better than, say, humanities college professors, with a much higher educational requirement, who also have research requirements.

I don't resent what they are making now, at all. But I think we already do pay them well.

Numbers Geek
To note: the two SPS negotiating team members at this afternoon's press conference are:

Keven Wynkoop, Ballard High principal (member of SPS bargaining team)

Jon Halfaker, executive director of schools/Northwest region (member of SPS bargaining team)

I had no idea that principals were on the teacher bargaining team. It makes sense (kind of) but it would seem to me not a good idea.

Anonymous said…
I wish we were picketing at the JSCEE instead of our individual schools. I feel like the problems are downtown, not in my building.

IA teacher
Outsider said…
Looking at the Spokane review database, it seems that my guestimate above corresponds to a 10-year teacher with master's degree. In the pay scale, the master's degree seems to be worth about $12K, and the 10 years worth another $12K. A new teacher with BA would only get about $45K cash. That new teacher seems definitely underpaid, though the steepness of the ramp is perhaps the union's decision.

Comparing teachers to the rest of the world is hard because (as I understand) they don't pay 6% social security taxes, and don't get SS, but get a teacher pension instead that is probably twice as generous as SS. The value of the pension is not mentioned in the compensation numbers in the database.
dan dempsey said…
"Comparing teachers to the rest of the world is hard because (as I understand) they don't pay 6% social security taxes, and don't get SS, but get a teacher pension instead that is probably twice as generous as SS. The value of the pension is not mentioned in the compensation numbers in the database."

In Nevada and California, teachers do not make a contribution to social security and thus have $0 into any Social Security retirement from teaching. In Nevada most districts pay both the teacher and the district contribution into the Teacher Retirement fund.

I think in CA the teacher puts in 6% and the District puts in 6%.

As far as I know: in WA state all teachers pay into Social Security as well as TERS (WA Teacher retirement fund).
Patrick said…
Do teachers really not participate in the Social Security system? I'm surprised, I'm a state employee with a state employee's pension, but I am taxed for SS and will be eligible to receive benefits (if SS is still around when the time comes).
Curb said…
Yes we pay into Social Security. Not sure where this misinformation comes from.
Anonymous said…
As a Teacher you are in the TRI system which is akin to SS but that is explained how that system works in lieu of the ability to draw from SS upon retirement - which is why Subs are exempt however and yet many retirees are subs and due to that they can only work an x number of hours or they are penalized - this too sets that idea there is sub shortage -

Go to the Teacher retirement page explains all how this system works

One thing that does come out of this is the exchange on this bizarre labyrinth called public employee pay

- hope this helps
Anonymous said…
We pay into social security and we can draw on it. TRI is part of our pay. The teacher's retirement is called TRS. People really shouldn't talk to things they don't know any thing about.

It's True
Frustration Station said…
what I think on Day 1 of the strike: I'm a parent of a middle schooler and high schooler. I applaud, respect, admire and support public education and all teachers. I am hoping the strike doesn't go past the 16th. I am searching the internet to review French, Spanish, Algebra and grammar with my kids so they can at least use their brains during these days they should be in school.
I am at a loss for why the union still exists in this setting; I believe teachers deserve to be paid well and believe they would be better served if they competed for jobs like regular people on their own merits (and this might have the added benefit of getting some of the dead wood out - that we know exists and is hard to fire/dismiss/lay off/etc.)
I also support our school district administrators; they work for me, the taxpayer.
We need to reform the whole system, including at the state level (obviously - - -that's sort of how we ended up here). It's not working anymore - for anyone - lease of all our 50,000+ students.
Eric B said…
For a salary comparison, I work in a professional engineering office. Starting salary for a recent bachelor's graduate is around $50-60K, rising to about $100K 20 years in with a professional engineer's license which is less work to get than a MA degree. That also does not include a pretty decent benefits package. The link provided by HTH at 10:59 shows new teachers at about $45K, 8 years of experience at $60K, and 15 years + Master's at $80K. In other words, about 20% less than professionals with similar levels of education and experience.
veteran sub said…
Since the substitute teacher pay question came up here:

After serving 90 days in the district, a sub makes $187 per day. (Less than 90 = a lower step in pay.) If a substitute teacher works all 180 school days in a year, they will make at most $33,360. No benefits, no sick days, no TRI pay or anything like that. It's pretty much guaranteed that you will make less than that, because it is VERY difficult to make sure you work every day. Sometimes there just aren't jobs. $33k is the ceiling, not the average or even a reasonable expectation. It's also worth noting that I've subbed in numerous other districts to make sure I can work every day, and all of our neighbors pay less than Seattle.

If a sub is lucky, they might get a long-term job, which will pay out what that sub would make on the regular teacher pay scale, but long-terms don't happen all that often. I've had only a few over the years. You have to be teaching in your credential/subject area. This is one of the things that we've seen some progress on in the recent contract negotiations, but I couldn't say what that comes out to in actual dollars.
Maureen said…
Outsider, check out the Seattle Times article hope that helps posted at 11:59 today. That gives a good overview of salaries statewide and a comparison with national averages. (much more useful than trolling through individual teachers paychecks I think.)

I don't know about you guys, but I want my kids teachers to be paid WAY above the median salary for an area. I want HR to be beating them off with sticks every time they post a job. But I'm kinda funny about education.

From my hiring committee and life experience, how many applicants there are depends on the position, the school and the timing of the posting. Sometimes (1st grade teacher at a well off school posted in the spring) a decent number of good solid applicants. Sometimes (HS Chemistry and physics or math, poorer school, posted in August), not even crickets. So it depends.
Anonymous said…
It makes sense that engineers make more than teachers, though, because the course of study is typically more rigorous and demanding, not to mention much more competitive to enter, and the job is less secure. Teachers also get summers off (and 3-4 full weeks off during the year), which that hypothetical engineer does not.

Numbers Geek
Anonymous said…
King 5 is showing a SPS press debriefing @ 3:00.
Anonymous said…
via live stream according to tweet-
-watching computer
Anonymous said…
via live stream according to tweet-
-watching computer
veteran sub said…
Numbers Geek:

Have you done both of these jobs? I'm not willing to say that a teacher's job is more demanding, more competitive, or more rigorous than an engineer's, because I've never been an engineer.

However, if you think being a teacher isn't demanding, competitive, or rigorous, then you've unfortunately missed the boat on pretty much everything about the profession. We also don't really get those summers and 3-4 weeks off every year. Yes, we have some time off. No, it's not all the time you think it is.

We spend much of that time going through even further training. When you're a teacher, you're never really done with the training--and, in many cases, the student debt that can come with it. We also spend that "time off" creating lesson plans and classroom materials and dealing with the nearly endless task of grading student work. We take our jobs home with us pretty much daily.

Summer break may see some vacation time, sure, but not remotely as much as you'd think. And those "Holiday Breaks" and "Spring Breaks?" even less. It's usually more like we're just working for home.

I'm okay with engineers making more than we do. I'm not okay with people believing we only work 7 hours a day and then go home and our "vacations" are anything of the sort.
Anonymous said…
From King 5:

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Stacy Howard announced that they had made a counter offer of a 14 percent pay raise for teachers over three years. The previous offer was 7 percent. Teachers want an 18 percent increase.

"Our most recent counter-offer included adding 20 minutes of student instructional time beginning in the third year of the contract," said Howard. "We are not extending the teacher work day."

So when was this offer made? Last night or today?
Anonymous said…
forgot this part:
"Howard said negotiations will resume on Thursday morning."

Anonymous said…
We pay into social security and we can draw on it. TRI is part of our pay. The teacher's retirement is called TRS. People really shouldn't talk to things they don't know any thing about.

As I assume that "scold" was directed to me.. I just looked it up on the website and mis-typed TRI vs TRS good thing I am not in your classes!!! Oh wait I am too stupid as I am talking about things I know nothing about. But I did have the audacity and temerity to look up the system.(are those good big words or should I not use them?)

As for Social Security I was not sure as the site clearly does discuss working and penalty and the issue about substitute and substitute teaching. And I assume that the pension issue is why there is a shortage of subs as it mentions that penalty issue and that may be why as its pure speculation on my part. There I go talking about stuff I know nothing about!

And then there is the issue of solely subs and they are "Teachers" as the veteran sub has said.. but they are according to someone here "not very good: .. but again I would think that having all the bells, whistles, the same education and training but wearing a different hat every day would actually make them a great Teacher. But what do I know I am talking about stuff I know nothing about and yet aren't Teachers supposed to help that. Hmmm...

Clearly that divisiveness I am worried about is coming out full force - the US vs them and its going to get worse before better.

God bless everyone but this blog is not someplace clearly I belong. Nasty people here.

- Hope that helps

(clearly no but to the good Teachers be they full part or substitutes you are good people and I hope this works out the best for all)

Former Lowell parent said…
Numbers Geek,
Every teacher I know had off from July until Sept. Some worked very part time or just did not work. They also are not grading or doing lesson plans during the various breaks.

I think the large amount of time off ( about three months if you follow SPS calander)need to be factored into the total compensation that they receive per year. So if a starting teacher gets $45,000 per year in Seattle, it's for 9 months of work not 12. If it was factored on 12 months ( like the rest of us), it would be closer to $60,000. That's good money for a college grad.
To say that teachers are not well paid is untrue, unless you only fat or in the 9 months of work and don't calculate the per month income.
This not to argue that teachers should not get a raise or should work for free, I'm just tired of hearing that teachers are so underpaid.
Anonymous said…
I don't know what to tell you, veteran sub. I am intimately familiar with the schedules of many great teachers, and they do take all that time off. I don't think you have to be a martyr to be a great teacher. But it's a sweet schedule. That's a perk, and it's worth something. The rest- lots of people work hard, and take their jobs home with them. That's just life in 2015.

The demanding and competitive part was about entering the profession. It is harder to get in and complete an engineering program in college than an education one, and more competitive to get the engineering jobs we are talking about.

Numbers Geek
Outsider said…
The Seattle Times article is interesting. The state is paying about 80% of teacher salaries, and that component is not subject to negotiation at the district level. The district share of teacher pay is referred to as TRI. SPS claims to be offering to increase TRI by 9%. Does that mean:

-- 9% of 20% = 1.8%, or
-- they would increase TRI by an amount that equals 9% of total salary?

If all this fight is over 1.8% it seems dumb. On the other hand, if it's 9% of total salary, which could be more like 40% of total SPS contribution to teacher salary, it sounds like a big leap in local expense and one might wonder where the money would come from. Is enough additional general purpose cash expected from the state to cover the expense? Or would it depend on voters to approve a bigger school levy?
Anonymous said…
IA teacher, others also agree with picketing at the JSCEE instead of individual schools as that’s where the biggest disconnects and bureaucratic miscues are being generated with counterproductive over administrating (my respect remains, of course, for a few JSCEE staff I interact with regularly who are quite effective in supporting teachers/schools). However, small groups of teachers with local parent support in front of local community schools is probably the way to go to keep our rootedness in our communities. Well, this is Seattle and if 3000+ educators showed up I’d fear for some agitators to get in there and mess the whole thing up. Now a carload per school to get a manageable 200-300 educator presence makes sense.
In WA all teachers are paying into Social Security but not all teachers nationally are paying into SS (that’s where the “misinformation” Curb alludes to comes from). There’s a thing called WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) which is a complicated mess for teachers in states that did not pay into Social Security, with an issue for teachers and/or their surviving spouses when there was a mix of many years of paying into Social Security for some jobs/years and yet also many years teaching and not paying into Social Security. Grossly oversimplified – the theory is that somebody who did not pay consistently into SS should have limits on that benefit, but in attempting to balance this fairness many beneficiaries appear to be overly penalized. It has pushed many people into sudden poverty at some stage of retirement, often when a spouse dies. Complicated – I only read about it out of concern it’d impact my retirement someday but although I spent many years in industry I’m still paying into SS as a teacher so no impact - whew.
Dan, yes, theoretically all WA teachers’ pay into TRS (I’m not sure if a retire-rehire exemption, but that abuse was well documented in the press and somewhat curtailed just under a decade ago). The minimum is 5% and the maximum is 15% - 6 options (A – F). This “defined contribution” is like a mandatory 401(k) although once a rate is set it can only be changed by changing districts. For substitutes membership in TRS is optional.
The “pension” or “defined benefit” is a part of our pay, although indirectly as the district pays into TRS on our behalf (the amount shows on our paychecks). A minor consideration is that newer teachers are not vested in the plan until 10 full service credit years or 5 years of service if 12 of the months are earned after age 44 (I think to encourage industry transfers into teaching). Those teachers who never reach vesting before leaving the profession will not get a pension (ex. the near 50% who leave the teaching profession in < 5 years).
The pension amount (for most newbies… an older pension plan exists for long-term teachers) is 1% per year of the average of the 60 consecutive highest paid service credit months. If a highly educated individual (Masters + 155 credits) left industry and had taught the last 10 years in SSD they would receive about $6,700/year (after age 65) as that would be close to 10% of their average pay last 5 years. I give this example because some Seattle Times commenters act as if they make their full salary and other such nonsense – a good benefit like when I used to get matching 401k before teaching.

Teacher Notes
Anonymous said…
Wait were they not bargaining today?? GAAAAAAHHH. Bargain, bargaining teams.

Former Lowell parent said…
Comment should have been directed at Veteran sub, not numbers geek
Unknown said…
I think your numbers look hypothetical. 15 year teacher with a MA. I make 73k or so not including the benefits. That is the top of the pay grade for me. But if you really want to know what teachers make. Look up their pay at the Kitsup Sun Website. We are state employees. The thing that blows my mind is that I will not get another raise ever. Sure I can get a COLA, but save these contract negotiations, I've reached my peak at 45. That is not right. Not what we are presently grieving, but in the wheelhouse.
Anonymous said…
We (teachers) were told that we are not bargaining today because we gave a proposal to SPS and we were waiting to hear back. People were frustrated that SPS is not responding to the SEA proposal so the bargaining could keep going. On the news, SPS says they gave a proposal to SEA and are waiting for SEA to get back to them:)Where's the mediator? I support the strike AND I want to go back to class and begin teaching.
Anonymous said…
Teacher - You heard wrong. SPS presented the last proposal before SEA walked out. SEA has the most recent proposal in their hands. This is not the first time you have been misinformed by our union.

You might want to think about where you are directing your frustration.

Another Teacher
Anonymous said…
Teacher salary is comprised of base pay, and TRI, to compose total salary. An increase is calculated on base salary, and added to TRI. TRI is about 25% of total salary. Expiring at the end of next year is a 2% increase from a few years ago. So the 18 % the SEA is asking for? Adjust down by TRI, and by the expiring raise, if you would like to consider real numbers. It also reflects a longer work day- if students have longer teacher contact time, its means longer planning, and work shifted to later in the day.

I think many educators would be OK with no raise- just give us more bodies to do the jobs we have taken over in the last few years when schools were staffed so much better. Support staff. Counselors. 40 million has been added to the school district this year...where has it gone? That could add 400 teachers, if you paid them 100K each. Though the district says it is lowering class size in K-2…classes sizes in other grades are growing. Id love to see what my school would be staffed at using staffing ratios from even 5 years ago- but the info can’t be found unless you kept it.

Sample mid range teacher with masters if 18% is achieved

Current total salary: 57,304
18% over 3 years: final total salary (same place on salary scale) 64191
actual increase in total pay: 12%
increase student contact hours, high school: 10%
not factoring in COLA or increase in health care costs

Anonymous said…
SPS claimed they gave it to SEA last night at 5:00 pm. They went up stairs expecting for negotiations to continue after that and were shocked to see the Teachers team had walked out. According to the time stamp on the board resolution posted here yesterday, at 4:40, it would seem that someone's timeline of what went down yesterday is a bit off. Nothing in that press conference lines up with what SEA has posted on its site at 8:00 pm yesterday.
Anonymous said…
Another teacher,
Speak for yourself! I'm not directing my frustration at anyone. I'm just saying I would like bargaining to continue. I support the strike. I don't think it is fair to expect teachers (or anyone) to work more hours and not get paid more. I listened to the press conference and all this mumbo jumbo about how they aren't reaaally taking time away from teachers by expecting them to work more. Give me a break! More instructional time with students means more lesson prep time for me.
Anonymous said…
As a teacher I'm going to agree with "teacher" above - where the heck is the mediator?? I've been doing calculations and online research to figure out where in the world the #s are coming from (hours in and although I can clearly tell the district's #s are way overstated/ridiculous I can't match up the union #s either... even accounting for the spin component I understand is sometimes missing).

My hunch is that as both sides play this through the media we're likely further and further from the truth as to what's really happening (even if the mediator is smack in the middle, getting frustrated with both sides, but nonetheless mediating as should be). Hopefully the real negotiating work is getting done better than any of us know, despite the respective spins, so we can get back in the classroom. Back to the calculations/research.

Discombobulated Calculator
Teacher, there is no mediator at this point. I'm with you -get one and the sooner, the better.

Discombobulated, you may be closer to the truth because this isn't about just the teachers strike. It's about both sides taking a statement for future use. There are many more agendas here than just two.
Anonymous said…
Ah, John Halfaker. At the General Membership meeting, a bilingual IA told a story about how Halfaker proposed replacing human translators with Google Translate. That got a reaction out of the crowd.

David Edelman
Anonymous said…
Ah, the mediator was just for the time leading up to the strike? Then yes, they need to get one back in immediately. I think the outside consultants JSCEE hires are often a waste of money, given how unprofessionally this is being run, and how totally bungled (it is not even crystal clear to union members who exactly made the last proposal and when?), I wonder if both sides should get lawyers, and leave this to the professionals. I'd even recommend some. I bet we could even find a couple with SPS students to do it for free, just to get the kids back in school.

Eric B said…
Numbers Geek, I have presented a number of times in my children's classrooms, and I can assure you that even at the low level I taught at, teaching is just as hard as engineering. If teaching was as respected and well paid a career as engineering, it would be just as competitive to get into the education programs. That's the case in other developed countries where teaching is a high status profession. Whether the classwork is harder or not, I think that depends on the student and what their strengths are. I had lots of engineering classmates who got good grades in the technical classes but had a lot of trouble writing a 5-paragraph essay.

As for the "3 months off", I think you have to factor in the number of hours worked. If teachers work 50 hours a week during the year, that's pretty much 2000 work hours, or full time. Sure, they get all of their hours in 9 months, but that doesn't mean they're not working full time.
Anonymous said…
Just a side note on comparing compensation-almost no one teaching high school majors in education. People are coming from other fields/majors and then obtaining teacher certification. A straight education degree would not satisfy the credit requirements for most certifications at the secondary level. Off the top of my head I can think of 7 people with engineering degrees teaching math, science, or tech at my high school. These individuals are taking a significant pay cut to teach students instead of working in industry. If one teacher covers two kids and a spouse on insurance in Seattle, you can expect to pay $400 to $1200 a month out of pocket for medical beyond what the district provides. I also don't know of another field with such frequent demands for continuing paid certifications (Pro Cert, clock hours, National Boards). These requirements can run into the thousands for coursework and fees.

I would happily take reduced class loads and increased support staff in lieu of a raise.

Anonymous said…
With regard to the possibility of the strike lasting for weeks: this will cause enduring anger and bitterness among staff. Many parents will be equally angry. This will be the situation that the new School Board will inherit.

I wonder how long Dr. Larry Nyland will remain in his position after a long strike.

David Edelman
Anonymous said…
Oops-credit requirements for subject matter endorsement, not certification.

Longhouse said…
Wow. What a shock. Someone identifying as "Numbers Geek" believes that math-focused professions are more prestigious, more challenging, more impressive, and should be paid more then the non-math focused professions.
Anonymous said…
Rumors are rampant. My wife was just told by a private school kid that "Christmas vacation has been cancelled and they aren't starting school until November". She responded that no decisions have been made yet and when she asked how he know that he responded, "My friend goes to the public school".

Some Levity
Former teacher said…
Eric b,
If a teacher is working 50 hours per week. Than they are new or incompetent

Anonymous said…
Or they teach English! 150 essays ...
Anonymous said…
I am not new or incompetent and I have always worked 50 hour weeks. When I was new it was at least 60 hours per week. You should request the building entrance logs from the district. Our building is full of teachers every single weekend!
Anonymous said…
There's probably a reason why "former teacher" is "former". Successful teaching requires collaboration and arrogance doesn't go well towards building that among teaching peers and support staff.

While agreed newer teachers tend to work longer than average, my school is quite fortunate to have a lot of veterans who also work long hours both at school and clearly in the evenings based on email communications. One very reasonable distinction I have noticed is that some of us without kids tend to work slightly longer hours, but we don't have family/parenting obligations (and I wouldn't want them to neglect their own children to help take care of others anyhow). I've also noticed that near-retirement teachers tend to work fewer hours (experience has made them much more efficient, and yet I've seen exceptions including one teacher still putting close to 60 hour weeks even the year before retirement... she was a campus leader and the kids loved her and often didn't let her leave early).

Of course, some of the bravado that we all work 60+ hour weeks isn't believable either and has hurt the teachers cause, and it isn't evidence of incompetence either. Like all professions there's some variation and individual circumstances. Indeed, some parts of the year (Spring) I am able to work fewer hours and other parts (start, semester transition, end of year, exam grading weekends) just have to grin and get through it.

Not new/incompetent
wondering about funding said…
I would love to see teacher salary increases and smaller class sizes (I know probably a dream). Just wonder about the money pools. Can someone explain where each comes from? And specifically, if the SEA requests are met, does that lessen chances the class size initiative will be enforced? Or these funding sources totally separate?
Frustration Station said…
so my frustration on day 2 has only increased.
Shame on both sides for letting it get to this point when you've been negotiating or discussing since May!!! the ONLY losers here are the kids when they finally get back in the classroom, because there will be pressure on THEM to catch up or rush through things - even if the year is extended - it's human nature to hurry after a crisis. To both sides - find a new way to do this. You both should have been camped out ALL SUMMER in Olympia demanding that the state take some action. Know that the longer this goes, regardless of how much I support and already respect our educators and administrators, my anger turns to both sides and I place my blame equally. Both sides set a horrible example for kids. I don't get to walk out of my job when it sucks - I have to keep doing it while I try to fix what sucks. I don't get to walk away from negotiating with a co-worker when we can't some to an agreement.
Anonymous said…
Teachers are asked and expected to suck it up and do it for the kids annually(I have actually been told that I should expect that my reward is love, not money by a legislator TO MY FACE). Love only gets us so far- it doesn't pay the bills. Trips to Olympia have been taken by both sides. It doesn't seem to have done diddly! Maybe if every district, including the admin, refused to open until we are all fully funded something might happen. But camping in Olympia ...?

If every legislator had their constituents pissed as hell because schools won't open until they get the constitutionality mandated "ample" amount of money, maybe then they would figure out how to comply with McCleary. What other avenues are there left to try? Patience doesn't get kids who need resources now what they need to become the future successes we ALL expect them to become.

Yay CollectiveBargaining said…
Frustration Station, then perhaps you should work somewhere with a union. That is what they are for.
he ONLY losers here are the kids when they finally get back in the classroom, because there will be pressure on THEM to catch up ..."

Who do you think will be teaching them? The teachers are going to get tremendous pressure and they know it. I don't believe anyone at all takes this lightly. And, both sides are meeting with a mediator so it's not like they are not trying.

Frustration Station said…
Melissa - - Yes, the teachers will be under tremendous pressure when they go back - I get that - but the teachers got to make a decision to strike, so they sort of knew what they were/are in for - kids didn't. Both sides say they are meeting with the mediator, but why do statements come out in the media like "the union walked away and the district was surprised"? I understand there is spin on both sides, but I also get tired of SEA and the district expecting parents to just sit back and wait without getting really frustrated...
this is just my parent viewpoint - I'm fully aware that everyone would rather be back in the classroom or doing the jobs they were hired to do rather than walking a picket line.
Anonymous said…
I have heard from several teachers who were negotiating since May that the SPS district negotiators don't always show up or they show up 3 or more hours late, so Frustration Station, I think you need to focus that frustration on SPS district negotiators not doing their job. The district wasted tons of time and good will essentially forcing the teachers to strike.

Yes, the back and forth over who showed up at what meeting and who didn't does make one's head spin. That's just the nature of the action.

I understand your frustration and here's two things.

1) It has been two days and they are now using a mediator. That's good and let's hope that gets us to a reopening of schools soon.

2) It might be good for PTAs to express their approval/unhappiness over this issue. Put some real pressure on them.
Anonymous said…
I have been thinking about that, Melissa, PTA action, but I wonder what they should say. I don't think parent support for the strike is unified enough to come out for it, but I certainly don't think PTAs should come out against teachers. I think they are a bit stuck, and so I understand why they have remained quiet. I have started seeing news reports about how hard this is on parents and families. Maybe more of that will help.

Or maybe that mediator will help. I hope they are excellent.

Anonymous said…
FYI, here's some guidance on PTAs and strikes:

PTA member

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