Seattle Children Begin The School Year A Week Late After Teacher Strike Ends

The Seattle teacher strike has officially ended as a new deal has been tentatively agreed upon which includes pay raises, classroom size reductions, and better health services.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Teacher strikes were quite common during the 2021-2022 school year, and that notion seems to be pouring over to the next. A Seattle teacher strike that began last week was just one of many already interfering with the new school year. But after missing the first day, students returned to the classroom yesterday as the teachers’ union and district came to a tentative deal for a new contract.

The Seattle Education Association voted to end the Seattle teacher strike in the afternoon on Tuesday, September 15th. Picketing lasted for a week and was done so over a desire from educators for reduced classroom sizes, pay, and health needs. The tentative agreement between the union and Seattle Public Schools creates a new three-year contract.

While the details of the deal won’t be publicly released until the new contract is officially signed, CNN reported on what the union noted it will include. Teacher-to-student ratios will be reduced in special education classrooms. This was a major issue regarding the Seattle teacher strike, as many complained about unacceptable policies previously in place.

While general classroom sizes in Seattle and other major cities are of serious concern, the Seattle Education Association was particularly concerned with the large ratio of students in special education classrooms leading up to the Seattle teacher strike. The district is lacking adequate teachers and paraprofessionals, and some of them aren’t even given needed laptops to do their work. Oftentimes, this has forced special needs students into regular classrooms, where they aren’t given the required attention needed to excel.

Baseline mental health staffing will be added to all 113 schools in the district as well following the Seattle teacher strike. Teachers have been concerned about the state of youths’ well-being since returning to schools from pandemic-era closures. When picketing, many staffers were seen holding signs that read “make mental health a priority.”

While specifics are unknown, the new contract that comes from the Seattle teacher strike will include some type of annual pay raise. This was also a big deal for the union, as they were unhappy with the original offering from the district. However, many news outlets lambasted this portion, pointing out that some teachers in these schools make six-figure salaries

“We are thrilled to welcome students and educators back into our classrooms to start this new school year. We are excited to engage fully in our mission – our moral imperative – of high-quality teaching and learning,” said district superintendent, Brent Jones. Despite the good news, children still need to make up time for the five days lost during the Seattle teacher strike. The district announced they are working out ideas for how and when the 50,000 students will make up those lost days.

Washington has become the epicenter of teacher/ district quarrels this school year. The Seattle strike wasn’t the first of its kind for the west coast state. Weeks earlier, nearby Kent public school teachers delayed the first day of their school year as well with a strike that ended last week. 

Seattle teacher strike

The Seattle teacher strike may be over, but if this year proves anything like the last, there may be more teacher strikes across the nation to come. All across the country, districts are struggling with issues regarding staffing shortages, pay, and a plethora of other issues. As union leaders and public school officials continue to battle over how to solve public education’s many problems, strikes are likely to remain a normal occurrence.