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Tipsheet

Seattle Teachers Strike, Delaying Start of School Year

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Teachers in Seattle, Washington went on strike this week, delaying the start of the school year for about 50,000 students. 

To recap, Townhall reported Aug. 31 that the Seattle Education Association (SEA) planned to vote on a strike authorization if union leaders could not come to an agreement with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) over learning and teaching conditions. SEA represents around 6,000 employees who work for SPS. 

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Over the weekend, SPS published a Memorandum of Agreement that would have allowed school to start on Wednesday as planned while negotiations continue.

“The purpose of this MOU is to confirm the mutual desire of the Parties that the start of school, scheduled for September 7, 2022, will be maintained while the Parties continue to bargain a successor collective bargaining agreement,” the agreement stated. The union rejected the offer, Axios noted.

On Tuesday, the teachers voted overwhelmingly, 95 percent, to authorize the strike over wages, support for special education students, class sizes, among other things. 

SPS’ website states that the district will not start school as planned on Sept. 7. 

“We continue to negotiate with Seattle Education Association for an educators’ contract,” the announcement reads. 

SEA President Jennifer Matter said in an announcement on Tuesday that “noone wants to strike” but that “SPS has given us [teachers] no choice.”

Late last month, a teacher strike at the Kent School District near Seattle delayed the start of the school year for about 25,000 students, which Townhall covered. The school year has been delayed since Aug. 25 as negotiations continue.

In addition, Townhall reported how teachers at Ohio’s largest school district went on strike days before the start of the school year. The Columbus Education Association union, representing 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. Students returned to school the following week when union leaders and the school district came to an agreement.

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Townhall has covered lower academic performance, chronic absenteeism and mental health challenges that have become prevalent among students since the pandemic. This year, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that more than 40 percent of teenagers felt "sad" or "hopeless" during the pandemic. Last month, 50,000 students in Los Angeles were absent on the first day of school. 

And last week, a new federal report showed that students suffered immense learning loss during the pandemic. In the report, reading scores saw the largest decline since 1990 and the largest decline ever in math.

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