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Tipsheet

School Year Delayed in Seattle Suburb After Teachers Strike

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

A teacher strike in a Seattle suburb has delayed the start of the school year for about 25,000 students.

Demanding more competitive wages and smaller class sizes, teachers at the Kent School District went on strike Thursday on what would have been the first day of the 2022-2023 school year, according to The Seattle Times

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Reportedly, the Kent Education Association members voted on Monday to go on strike if union leadership could not come to an agreement with the school district by Wednesday. In addition to wages and class sizes, the union is negotiating more mental health support for students.

Betsy Scheline, a school counselor, told the Times that she’s been assigned 500 students and said it’s been “really rough.” Students in the district have suffered because of a teacher shortage and other impacts of the pandemic.

The school district’s website explains that the school year is pushed back due to the strike and that sports programs will continue.

The start of school is delayed due to a strike/work stoppage by the Kent Education Association (KEA). High school and middle school offices and the district central office will remain open. In addition, families can continue to register their children through the district website. We are continuing high school sports programs. All elementary and middle school activities are postponed until further notice. Meal service will resume when school begins.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the district said it is “deeply committed to recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce that serves to equip every student to be globally competitive in college, careers, and in life. We remain in negotiations with the KEA and remain committed to reaching an agreement and starting school as soon as possible.” 

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Townhall covered this week how teachers at Ohio’s largest school district went on strike days before the start of the school year. 

The Columbus Education Association union, which represents over 4,000 teachers, nurses and other education professionals, went on strike for the first time since 1975 due to a disagreement with the school district over learning and teaching conditions.

CEA published on its website Aug. 11 that it intended to strike beginning Aug. 22 if they did not reach an agreement with the school board.

"We will continue fighting until we have safe, properly maintained and fully resourced schools in every neighborhood," CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes said during a news conference on Monday.

In early 2021, reports showed how teachers across the country demanded to get the COVID-19 vaccine before going back to the classroom. This came after students had been learning remotely since the onset of the pandemic. In a report, NBC pointed out that “many teachers say they won’t go back until they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine,” especially in large cities like Chicago.

Fast forward, and schools opened back up for the first time since lockdowns. Despite this, Chicago teachers walked out at their jobs in January over COVID-19 concerns and students lost five days of instruction. A separate teachers' strike in March in Minneapolis over wages lasted three weeks. Teachers in Sacramento walked out on the job for similar reasons in March as well.

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COVID-19 lockdowns and remote learning had made devastating impacts on students, which Townhall has covered. Lower academic performance, absenteeism and mental health challenges have become prevalent among students. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study this year found that more than 40 percent of teenagers felt "sad" or "hopeless" during the pandemic. This month, 50,000 students in Los Angeles were absent on the first day of school.

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