The president of the National Education Association has declared that the public school teachers strike in Seattle is a wonderful development for tens of thousands of students who cannot attend school.
“I’m proud that Seattle educators are standing up for the schools students deserve,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller on Wednesday afternoon.
The striking teachers are deeply concerned about the interests of the 53,000 students who are learning nothing in classrooms this week, Eskelsen García promised.
“There is no stronger voice or advocate for Seattle students than Seattle educators,” the union boss explained. “As educators, student success is at the center of everything we do.”
The strike by the Seattle Education Association officially began on Wednesday morning — the first scheduled day of classes for this academic year. The union broke off negotiations and declared its strike on Tuesday night after months of talks failed to produce a contract.
Approximately 5,000 teachers, secretaries and other employees in Seattle’s taxpayer-funded schools have refused to show up for work.
The union’s grievances are many.
“They are still expecting us to work a longer day without paying for it,” Seattle Education Association spokeswoman Phyllis Campano told local NBC affiliate KING-TV. “It’s just not reasonable.”
Campano warned that the 53,000 students could be in for a very long vacation.
“We will stay out as long as we need to get that done,” she told The Seattle Times.
In addition to teachers’ frustration about working about 30 extra minutes with no extra pay, the host of unresolved contract issues that led to the strike includes salary increases, standardized testing and teacher evaluation methodology.
In her statement, Eskelsen García focused on “ensuring opportunity for every student, regardless of zip code” and “less focus on harmful standardized tests.”(RELATED: OWN IT: ‘ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS’ SIGN Shows Up At NEA-Funded Protest)
Teachers union representatives on the ground in Seattle appear to have a different set of priorities than the NEA chief. They are squarely focused on obtaining more cash.
The Seattle school board has offered an additional $62 million for teachers which would be a 10-percent salary increase over the next two years. The school district has also offered a cost-of-living adjustment.
The Seattle teachers union has demanded $172 million in extra cash — a 16.8 percent pay increase during the same period.
According to Salary.com, Seattle teachers currently bring home a median annual salary of $60,412.
Annual per-capita income in Seattle is $43,237, according to the United States Census Bureau.
The $60,412 median salary figure does not include the teachers’ generous benefits package, which includes health, vision, dental and life insurance as well as tax-sheltered annuity plans.
School district officials and union leaders have reached agreement on some issues including 30 minutes of recess for students in elementary schools.
The work stoppage enters its second day on Thursday. Teachers will once again festoon themselves with red T-shirts and walk picket lines.