From The Picket Line: Kent Community Shows Support For Kent Teachers

After our first day of walking the picket line, stories of widespread community support for Kent teachers and staff have been spreading across the district.  Although some community members did show opposition to the strike, the vast majority seem to be supporting KEA teachers and their demands to improve learning in Kent.   Community members seem to support the idea that a fair and speedy resolution to this strike needs to happen soon.

We ask that teachers and community members comment on this post with examples of community support and generosity seen on the picket line.


323 Responses to “From The Picket Line: Kent Community Shows Support For Kent Teachers”

  1. kteach Says:

    Thank you so much, parents for supporting our efforts to make better schools for your children. Several parents today drove by asking if we needed water. UPS drivers turned back at the sight of picket lines. Lots of waves, honks, and thumbs up. Kent community, YOU rock!

    • cedervalleyteach Says:

      lets vote the sooner we vote the better, please fellow teachers, I want to move forward I want to know if I work before Sunday, Why can’t we vote now??? Then if we have to we can vote AGAIN on sunday. Lets not keep our students waiting if we can move forward today.

      • Let's Get a Fair Contract Says:

        Vote on what? Did KSD give KEA a good offer?

      • teach Says:

        There’s no way in Hell I would vote for that proposal. It does nothing to keep them from cramming 29 kids in my classroom. It does nothing to limit Principal directed meetings/time. It does nothing to help me in any way, unless I plan to change schools and need boxes and tape.

      • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

        Yeah, voting for the sake of voting because you want to rush this process?!?!? Seriously, we are a strong union now and hopefully KSD sees that. Remember, these contract negotiations are a long time coming, and there are a LOT of terrible contracts ratified in the past (under a much less unified group of teachers), and it takes time to undo all that bad stuff (especially when you have the KSD negotiating team not bargaining in good faith….and lying when they claim they are) Stick together and show unity and we will all get a good proposal.

      • Bawbert Says:

        KSD is counting on us to get cold feet and speed up this process. They are counting on the union to fall apart and come crawling to the negotiation table. We cannot vote ona a partial offer and we would be sending our negotiating team a message to wave the white flag. This is a stressful time for all and we want to be in the classroom, but if we don’t get this accomplished now, we will continue to work in a district that has no respect for us and they will be even bolder in their improper treatment of teachers. Voting just to vote makes no sense…

    • cedervalleyteach Says:

      No way in Hell? Really lets be serious here KENT doesn’t have the money to make a real dent in class size, not to the amount that is needed to address student learning. Yes they can make a dent in teacher work load, but not the amount needed. This is a start. But that’s just me, If you want to vote no you can but at least that would let them know how far off the target they are. Why wait till Sunday to vote, leaving the community hanging is not fair. With the way teachers are talking parents are going to expect every class to be under 25 kids and that is just not financially possible. I am glad that the conversations that I am having with my coworkers does not reflect the comments on this blog. I am glad that they are more open minded and willing to make and honest effort at getting kids back to school by monday.

      • Middle School Teacher Says:

        I agree with you 100%.

      • Not Giving Up Says:

        I respect your opinion, and understand the feeling of frustration and anxiousness on wanting to start school on Monday. Everyone would love to start work on Monday. Everyone would love to get this strike over with and be back in our classrooms. You say you want to move forward, but I believe that if we just accept whatever the district has to offer, we are only taking a step back. In response to your comment, “I am glad that the conversations that I am having with my coworkers does not reflect the comments on this blog”, I’m glad that you are having good conversations with your coworkers, but please do not speak for me or others. I am also a teacher at Cedar Valley (and yes, the word Cedar is with an –ar at the end, not –er), I understand that there are teachers with mixed feelings, as in every school, but as a whole, I get the impression that most of us are not giving up and ready to settle just so we can start school on time. However, I can only speak for myself, I am not giving up.

      • Skeptical Says:

        What has changed? The offer of a letter of agreement stating they will promise to only have one required meeting a week, but IEPs, 504s, MDTs, and STAFF MEETINGS don’t count? I should just trust them to keep their word, because they’ve had such a great history of it? They ‘ve been fair thus far so I know they’ll be fair again? I don’t think so. They are finally just beginning to talk about our issues, don’t take their word that they’ll keep improving.

        I am certainly not expecting class sizes of 25 for every class, but there is a lot of juggling out there that could be done. Since there’s currently no penalty for extra-large class sizes, administration has no incentive to fix things. For example at one of the high schools last year, a teacher had 5 students in an essentials class (kids with less skill, but not special ed) while other regular classes with mainstreamed special ed students were over 30. Why couldn’t that class be combined with another one of the really small essentials classes and the emptied class used to reduce the class sizes of the regular classes? Because there was no incentive to do this. This solution would NOT have cost the district any money and it could be done. Not every class is over the proposed cap, in fact, some are far under-enrolled. Yes, it would take more administrative time and perhaps produce some unhappy students who had their schedule changed, but the learning outcome would be worth it. I am quite convinced this was not the only example of this kind of scheduling and this inefficiency has to be stopped. The only way I can see it stopping is if the district has an incentive to do it, and as we’ve found, the only thing they actually care about is money.

      • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

        Do YOU have data that proves that KSD can’t afford to reduce class sizes? I mean, data that actually figures out which classes could use some reduction (because any intelligent person would know that not EVERY classroom needs class size reductions, based on the master schedule)? If you have some inside information about how the district calculated the numbers it throws around, I suggest you show that data to the bargaining team.

      • Bawbert Says:

        Why would we vote on a proposal that is so weak? You are reacting EXACTLY the way the invisible Vargas and his team want you to. They are bargaining slowly in order to try and shake the unity of the KEA because we have never pushed back before. The KSD is just a bully and you are willing to give them your milk money. Well, KSD can’t have my milk money…

      • Brandy Says:

        This is an emotional situation, and I can certainly understand that people want to put it all behind them and just get started. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. That’s part of the problem. For so long we have been hiding away when things get uncomfortable. Guess what? It’s time to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is full of uncomfortable situations. We won’t grow at people without them.

        I wouldn’t vote for this proposal if it was brought to a vote. I won’t vote for that compensation package. That compensation package only adds more meetings to my schedule if I want that compensation. I don’t want it bad enough to make my schedule and time with my kids worse than it is right now. No way! My students deserve more than what I can currently give them. So many of us already give up part of our salary because we can’t go to all the meetings (Principal Eff Ed) or have to skip them because a student needs us or a parent needs us. I want better for my students. I’m not willing to make it worse by accepting that compensation package.

        Why should I take a contract that degrades me as a person and as a teacher? We are bullied and beat down enough. I teach my third graders that the way to stop bullies, is to stand up and say something, don’t stand by and watch while other people are bullied. I would never expect my students to put up with being treated that way or having every shred of dignity stripped from them. Why should I expect that of myself? What does THAT teach my students?

      • Brandy Says:

        Oops typo on last post….We won’t grow AS people without uncomfortable situations

      • Former Kent teacher Says:


        I think that few teachers are expecting class sizes to be drastically reduced in the coming school year. I think that many would be satisfied with the introduction of specific class size limits in the contract. For example, a current Kent high school teacher I spoke with yesterday would be happy with a class size cap of 32 students. It would alleviate the worry of “just one more” student being added into an already crowded class of 32 or 33 students. It’s very strange to me that Kent School District resists including class size limits not based on averages in the contract, when it is customary in so many other school districts.

        Last spring, I taught an essentials class of 10 students that dropped to 8 by the end of the semester. I know that it seems unfair to have such a small class when other classes include numerous IEP and ELL students and are over 30 students (including my other classes that I taught that semester). However, I know that the counselors at my high school worked hard to place students properly and sometimes the very small classes consisted of students with special needs not addressed by an IEP or 504. For my very small essentials class, I was under the impression that the funding also came from a separate source and only certain students qualified to be in it. Finally, the intricacies of scheduling (especially with freshman pods, etc) do always seem to lead to some unexplained discrepancies in class size. I think that is another reason why the contract needs to include a maximum allowable class size NOT based on averages.

      • KSD Student Says:

        As a student who has been that 34th kid in a class, has sat on the floor, has been unable to get time with a teacher, and has been affected by the class sizes, I would be really upset if that proposal passed. I deserve better, and my teachers deserve better.

        KSD does have the money to fix a lot of this. Limiting meetings does not cost money. Not every class needs to be fixed. They can do this if everyone involved will stand up and tell them that they have to.

      • Tegar Says:

        Reducing class size by one student would cost the district $2.7 million. (Correction would cost the District taxpayer)

        2009-2010 enrollment of 26,342 pupils and 1,687 teachers.

        As for Wage comparisons, KSD should compare their wages with Districts that are comparible in size. KSD being the 4th largest.

        Seattle Public Schools Average $
        Largest School District

        Tacoma School District Average $54,157
        2nd Largest School District

        Spokane Public School District $55, 116
        3rd Largest School District

        Kent School District average $56,088
        4th largest school district in WA
        1,687 teachers

        Lake Washington District Average $
        5th Largest school District in WA

        Federal Way District Average $
        6th Largest School District in WA

        Kent largest Employer happens to be the Kent School District. It was once Boeing, but seven years ago, Boeing pulled 90% of its manufacturing out of South King County and moved those jobs overseas.

        Comparitively from School District to School District look at the top 5 employers that support their communities, that support the School Districts

        Bellevue/Redmond – Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Coca-Cola, Bellevue Community College, Puget Sound Energy

        Renton – Renton College, Valley Medical Center, Kennworth/Paccar, The Federal Aviation Adminstration, and Boeing.

        Kent – REI, Oberto Sausage Co, Kent School District, Fed Ex, and Boeing

        Auburn – Muckleshoot Casino, Emerald Downs, Green River College, Comcast, Auburn Regional Medical Center

        KSD Class Size Database listed by Home Room & School

        These demands during high unemployment, a bad economy, and a LACK of high paying jobs in Kent, are irresponsible.

        Property tax increase = Teacher Raise + Smaller class size.
        No thanks, my property tax is high enough, and I like many others have been out of work for more than a year.

      • Bellevue Teacher Says:

        The last thing you want to do is vote now.

        Your bargaining team knows that you do not have an offer from KSD that is acceptable just yet. Were you to vote and the support for the strike prove to be less than it was in the previous vote, you will show weakness to the district and they will stop trying to meet your needs. This will do one of two things: 1) Kill your bargaining team and ruin your chances of a fair contract or 2) prolong the strike.

        No good came come of a vote right now – unless, of course, you are an administrator or school board memeber. TRUST in your representation and support them. They have already spent countless hours working for your needs.

      • CedarValleyParent Says:

        Hi Cedar Valley Teach,
        I am glad to hear it! We miss you all and can’t wait to get back to school. I am trying to keep as informed as possible and it saddens me to see all of the negative comments. Your posts have made me smile and remember that we are all one team! My boys are looking forward to their first day of school and I can’t wait to see all of you!

    • Tegar Says:

      Property tax increase = Teacher Raise + Smaller class size.
      No thanks, my property tax is high enough, and I like many others have been out of work for more than a year.

      KSD Class Size Database listed by Home Room & School

      Top 5 employers that support their communities, that support the School Districts. Note: KSD is the largest employer in Kent, it use to be Boeing, but Boeing moved 90% of its manufacturing overseas seven years ago, diminishing its presence in South King County.

      Bellevue/Redmond – Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Coca-Cola, Bellevue Community College, Puget Sound Energy

      Renton – Renton College, Valley Medical Center, Kennworth/Paccar, The Federal Aviation Adminstration, and Boeing.

      Kent – Kent School District. REI, Oberto Sausage Co, Fed Ex, and Boeing

      Auburn – Muckleshoot Casino, Emerald Downs, Green River College, Comcast, Auburn Regional Medical Center

      Wages should be compared to School Districts that are comparible to there size, Kent being the 4th Largest.

      Seattle Public Schools Average $
      Largest School District

      Tacoma School District Average $54,157
      2nd Largest School District

      Spokane Public School District $55, 116
      3rd Largest School District

      Kent School District average $56,088
      4th largest school district in WA
      1,687 teachers

      Lake Washington District Average $
      5th Largest school District in WA

      Federal Way District Average $
      6th Largest School District in WA

      • alsoakentteacher Says:

        Our district HAS THE MONEY!! We’re not asking for more from taxpayers. We’re asking the district to use the money it already has. They have $2 million more in the bank right now than they did at this time last year!

      • Kent HS Teacher Says:

        Those numbers are inaccurate. If you’d like we can meet and I can show you my gradebook with actual student names so that you can see for yourself.

        When you post “average salary” what does that include? This is a very important question, since it seems you’re implying that Kent teachers are not underpaid.

        It looks like this is the “average salary” the simple average of all teachers in the district, is it? What I mean is does this statistic come from adding up all the salaries from all the teachers in the district and then dividing by the total number of teachers? If so, this number can be skewed quite a bit if one district has a number of highly experienced and well educated teachers while another district has larger numbers of less experienced and less educated teachers. This statistic is not used for comparison purposes, but is more of an indicator of how experienced the teachers of a district are.

        The numbers that KEA (and KSD by the way) are comparing are for specific places on the salary schedule. What do teachers with 0 experience and a bachelor’s degree make in District A, District B, District C, etc? What do teachers with 15 years experience and a master’s degree + 45 credits make in District A, District B, District C, etc? KSD’s outside, contracted analyst (hired even though KSD should have done the work themselves) found that KSD teachers ARE the lowest paid of the 9 different local districts they selected. Did you look at their website?

      • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

        As a taxpayer, Tegar’s attempt to sway the community are SO biased that I think he/she needs to work for the KSD! If you would have had a good education, you would know that comparing ‘averages’ is only occasionally accurate. In this case, its difficult to compare averages fairly because each district has a different number of beginning teachers and experienced teachers. KSD happens to have more teachers higher on the pay scale than other districts. Since it seems you have a great deal of time on your hands, go through and figure out where each teacher sits on the pay scale, add them up and compare them (at each step) to other districts, you will see how your comparison of averages gives a false picture.

        Additionally, many of these unsubstantiated arguments about how this will cost more in taxmoney are growing tiresome because they are just plain wrong. KEA negotiations are running on the platform that there is a reserve (ie, they HAVE the money, and therefore will not be asking more taxes from you) that is unnecessarily large (the KSD school board requires a 5% reserve….did you know that the state recommendation is only 3%?). And really, in what kinf of dire straits would a district need 10 days of operating funds were there no funding from the state? You would think logically that were there some kind of environmental catastrophe schools would be closed anyhow…

        Why does it not bother the public that all of these cuts the district suddenly made last spring were jobs people have held for YEARS…those positions were apparently not so essential that they could not be saved from the budget cut block, yet those people held those jobs for years and wasted the districts and HELLO! the taxpayers money. So where is the outrage over these years of wasted money? It is simply not productive to put pressure on teachers (especially with unsound, uniformed arguments) to try to get the strike moving. It is well known that the most productive action is to put pressure on the districts to get them to bargain in good faith for a speedy resolution. Remember, the KEA has been trying to resolve this for 4 months but has hit roadblock after roadblock set up by the district. Time has come for positive change to benefit the students of KSD.

    • Aware citizen Says:

      You’re all still totally in dreamland if you think the community supports your strike. Take an honest and serious look at comments posted on the news media websites. The UPS driver turned back because his company requires their drivers not cross a picket line as a matter of public relations. It was not in any way a discretionary decision.

      Put away your greed and your BS, be thankful you have a job to go to, and come to your senses!

      • Kent HS Teacher Says:

        Some people in the public are against us, I’m sure. This is not easy for anyone, except perhaps the paid negotiator who now gets to renegotiate his contract now that we’ve gone on strike.

        I sincerely hope that you have also contacted the Superintendent, Dr. Vargas, and the School Board members to let them know that you want an agreement. We did not make this decision lightly, nor was it done hastily. We have tried every other avenue available to us to have these issues addressed and have been ignored at every turn. Please note that many of the things we are asking for would not even cost the district money, yet KSD still will not discuss these proposals.

        Every contract offer and proposal we have received, starting all the way back in April had items that the district knew we could never accept, which is why they made them take-it-or-leave-it, package proposals. That way, when we rejected their offers (and they knew we would), we would look like the bad guys. It is as if they wanted us to strike. Why? I don’t know, but I do know that it is a horrible feeling. You have every right to be mad at us if you so choose, but I hope you would also be angry with the district for putting our backs to the wall when it wasn’t necessary.

  2. Dion Kiene Says:

    Today, the Martin Sortun teachers received an outpouring of support from the community, on 132nd (Wilson Field). Many honks were heard and we even had a few people pull over to say that they support us 100%! “Stay strong!” and “We love our teachers!” were yelled from passing cars. Popsicles were dropped off by one of our parents, to help with the afternoon heatwave. We truly thank the community for their support. It meant the world to all of us.

  3. Karen Says:

    Thanks to Emerald Park parents for kind words and deeds. We had parents bake cookies, provide water, a canopy for shade, and take a Starbucks order! We appreciate your support. Feel free to stop by and talk with us if you have questions regarding the current KEA strike.

    • Lech Walesa Says:

      Stay strong. Stay united. Solidarity and all that. Hold out for the max. But then don’t come whining when the upcoming bonds and levies don’t pass.

  4. kentteacher Says:

    I was on the picket line today, and observed about 80 percent positive reaction in the form of waves, honking, and thumbs-up. I saw about 10 percent with no reaction at all, and 10 percent with a negative response. Parents came by and asked how they could help us. Parents and community members brought us water, food, and good comments. Someone close to our school, offered their home as a resting place. I see wonderful support from the neighborhood around my school!

  5. kentteacher Says:

    I guess I should also say that my thinking on negative responses is that, most likely, these people have never taught in a classroom and have no idea what our working conditions are. Many negative comments, here and in the media, are not based on fact. People have not done their homework, and don’t know what the issues really are.

    • alsoakentteacher Says:

      I agree…many community members are uninformed & have no idea what is demanded of us. I definitely am not texting all day in my classroom & emailing friends…give me a break! I am a SPED teacher & certainly am not skipping any IEP meetings!! 🙂 I love how only 10-15 kids in a class of 35 need help & we all have T.A.s that grade our papers! I think its important for us to share more info w/ the community so they really understand what we’re facing in the classrooms. The excuse of a down economy does not mean that we should have unfair working environments & our students certainly don’t benefit from them either.

    • Proud to be Teaching Says:

      The negative comments and inflammatory statements against teachers seem to be from frustrated individuals who find it easier to blame teachers rather than to actually do some work and read up on our issues.

      Common sense usually wins in the end and hopefully the negative comments will become positive.

    • ksdmom Says:

      I’m an informed community member and I do not support the strike. This is the wrong time to insist on increasing your taxes and mine. You will pay more, just like me to reduce the class size, there is no magic money growing on trees for this request. Most classes are around 25 at the school my daughter goes to (elementary).

      Also, where were all the strikers on Friday? We drove past four schools on our way to where we were going and there was not a single striker anywhere. I think the teachers have given up also.

      • Steve Says:

        Interesting that you say you are informed…More than 1300 teachers were striking in front of the KSD administration building. Scroll below and watch Andy’s video.

      • NewToKent Says:

        Hoping you already got your answer on this – we were all at the administrative offices on Friday, along with many supportive parents and students who dropped off water and snacks again, though this was a short rally from 11 to 2.

        We can’t afford to give up. I’m glad your child has a small classroom – we have to think of all the other children at other schools, as well.

      • ksdteachermom Says:

        The teachers (over 1400 of them) were all out in front of the KSD office on Friday. Check any of the online newspaper or television news sites for pictures. There is also a video of the event on youtube. We have not given up.

      • ksdmom Says:

        Just because I don’t stalk the strikers doesn’t mean that I haven’t read both sides of the disagreements and become informed, on purpose. The KEA site says nothing about your picketing move on Friday so how exactly am I supposed to read your mind? It actually hasn’t updated since just before the Kentlake meeting to vote.

      • alsoakentteacher Says:

        AGAIN…our district HAS THE MONEY! I keep repeating this on here! They have $2 million more in the bank right now than they did at this time last year. Not every single class needs to be reduced in size. Limiting meetings & reducing classes that need to be would not cost taxpayers ANYTHING EXTRA!!!!

      • just a thought Says:

        I am not sure where you got your information from, but you are incorrect in stating that taxes will be increased. There is enough money in the district…in fact there is a reserve fund that has over $5 million more than what we had last year. If there wasn’t money, they would not have paid a negotiator $15,000 with a clause in his contract that states if the teachers go on strike he will get paid more money. The district would not have paid for the paper, envelopes, and postage for the letters about budget and negotiations that were full of lies to parents and community members…(more than one copy to many families), or paid the custodians time and a half to come in and stuff those letters over the weekend. (the custodians by the way, didn’t know what they were doing until they were in there….they were MAD and felt they were tricked into doing something that was going against teachers because they too support our quest for better education for the children of Kent) They could have had their salary based administrative employees come in and do it for free, if they didn’t have money to throw around! The district has the money, they have the opportunity, they just don’t want to put their money where their mouth is….they would rather put the money into their own administrative pockets, than educate the children in Kent!

      • Something to Ponder Says:

        The district has money. It amazes me that the Kent School District could afford to pay the new superintendent, Dr. Varges, seventy thousands dollars more than the last superintendent in a year that financial cuts were going to be made. The teachers new there would be lay offs, but still the administration had enough money to pay Dr. Varges $250,000. I think it is extremely sad that Kent School District teacher’s pay is the lowest in the state, but it has the highest paid administers in the state. Something is wrong here! The district thinks nothing of cutting programs and teachers or whether students are packed into classrooms of 30 plus students. There is money in the district.

        The Kent School District did publish class size list. It is on the KSD website, but be careful when reading through these lists. The classrooms are listed by school and teacher name. The district divided up the number of students. If a teacher had a split classroom (like a 5th/6th grade split), the district listed each grade level in the classroom separate. So the list may say 14 for 5th graders and then 15 for 6th graders ( this is just an example). In other words it looks like the classroom has only 15 students. At the high school level a Theater Arts class is listed as Theater Arts Lit 1 and Theater Arts Lit 2, but if you look closer the you will see both classes happen during the same period. Also, beware that some class sizes are smaller because the school may have made lower class size a prioity. At the Elementary school I teach at, we put all possible resources at the building level into classroom teachers. We do not have a librarian or Technology specialist. These positions were used to make more classrooms in order to bring down class size.

        Teachers are doing everything possible to help students succeed and have depleted our resources. Now it time for the Kent School District to take responsibility of educating their students in classrooms that are not overcrowded and where teachers have the time to support their students.

        A big thank you to all the parents and students who have been out supporting the teachers! It means more than any of us can say with words.

  6. Parent Says:

    The class lists at Grass Lake Elementary were posted today. There are 34 students in one 5th grade class and 31 students in the 5th / 6th split. I believe the single grade 6th grade class numbers were just as high!
    This problem is not new, the 5th graders have had 26 – 29 (now 34!!) in their classes since kindergarten.

    I support the teachers!! I have written the board, Dr. Vargas and the state. I would like to add, I have written in the past even before today. I volunteer at school, I vote, I write…the teachers are trying to teach their best. Now it is time for KSD and the state to do their jobs too!

    I am told that reducing class sizes by 1 student will cost 2.7 million dollars. Do we need to reduce EVERY class by one student today? Some classes sizes at Grass Lake are around the lower 20’s, while not ideal, not the urgency of 34 so that 2.7 million dollars puzzles me!

    This is one of many issues, but one I can give a specific example to today! I have also contacted other parents to get their voices heard.

    I support you teachers, I want our kids to learn the most they can…I am doing what I know to do to show that!

    • Teacher Says:

      THank you!! We need parents to help get the word out! Keep writing, keep calling! Kent will be a better place because of it!

      • Teacher Says:

        Exactly! Lowering class size is not something that needs to be completed uniformly. Some classes need to be reduced and others don’t. Some might even be combined if the numbers are that low.

        And yes, I have heard of a couple of examples of low class sizes, but no one wants to come out and say it in public because it is by far the exception and not the rule. This is why class size averages are misleading. Instead, we need the caps on individual class size, because it will push the administration to make sure that students are evenly distributed.

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      I think it is important that the community be clear that the KEA bargaining team gave the KSD 3-4 days to return with data showing exactly how they got the class size reduction costs it is posting on the KSD website and that awful KSD representative Becky Hanks is telling to news crews. The community needs to know that THEY DID NOT GIVE KEA THAT DATA! Why? Because they obviously just made the number up to make it look like it is an unfeasible proposal. Really, why hide the data if it would actually substantiate what the KSD is claiming? Because its a LIE.

      Any intelligent person would see through this ploy by the district, and teachers see it as just another lie tossed out there by the KSD to try to garner community support. Remember, teachers are striking to ensure a better educational environment for their students!

    • Julie Says:

      Those are horrible class sizes, Parent, and your child will suffer as a result of it. I’ve taught since 1987, and came to Kent 5 years ago. My second year here I had 33 in my 6th grade class and my principal didn’t even blink an eye! My former principal at my previous district was shocked when I told her how big my class was. Even in the best run classroom, those kids got less than 10 minutes of my time. That is not fair to anyone. This alone is an issue to strike for. Thank you for your support. You want what’s best for your kid!

    • ksdmom Says:

      Isn’t Grass Lake where the gifted program is? I hear parents bragging all the time about how their kids are leaving our school to go over to be gifted at Grass Lake. Maybe it’s time for the gifted program to be a little choosier if you have that many kids in your classes.

      • GLGatorFan Says:

        Dear Informed Parent,

        Yes, Grass Lake has a HiCap Program, as do other elementary schools, but you already knew that because you are informed. Parents should be proud when their students qualify for the HiCap Program, because the standards to get in are very high. However, there are several other general education classes, as well as, classes for students who have special needs at Grass Lake. But, I am sure as an informed parent, you knew that already.

        Regarding your other comment about taxes- for your information your tax dollars are already in the Kent School District bank account. The same goes for many other tax payer’s dollars. Perhaps if the district chose to use the $21 million that they already have, you wouldn’t need to worry about the raising of your tax dollars. But, I’m sure that you knew that too.

      • ksdmom Says:

        If you really believe that the Kent School District is going to give up their self-funded insurance dollars (the $21M) and is not going to try to get levies and bonds passed to make up the money, when they give in, then you’re seriously misinformed yourself on how our system works.

        Do you understand what it means to be self-insured as a District and to have the funds in reserve for both the threat of lawsuit as well as for emergency funds in the event of a natural or unnatural disaster that requires immediate funds for school repairs. Having that money in reserves is SOP.

        If you’re a teacher in the KSD and you’re talking to me, as a parent, in the way that you are, then you have cemented my view of the teachers firmly where I was trying not to go. You are so condescending, rather than listening to opposing viewpoints, you attempt to belittle. Is this how you also teach the children we trust in your care?

        Class sizes at Grass Lake include the gifted program, maybe there should be some limits so that a school like ours doesn’t have 21 kids in a class and yet Grass Lake accepted too many gifted children and they have 34. Basic math here …

    • Anonymous Says:

      To confirm or clarify, the 5th grade class of 34 students at Grass Lake, was for a general education class, not the HiCap (gifted) – so, HiCap has nothing to do with these numbers. Your suggestion won’t help with a solution for the general 5th grader learners. Sadly, the class sizes for this group of kids have been too high since kindergarten.
      Another Parent

  7. Horizon Teacher Says:

    Several people dropped off donuts, pop, or just stopped by to talk. We had many supportive honks and waves!!!!

  8. Bawbert Says:

    We had a few dissenters among the drivers who passed us, but overall, support was very strong. KSD would be wise to wake up and listen to the community. They want school to start on time and want KSD to step up and play ball! We had parents on the line with us today! We are no pushover union that will roll over and submit, we are 1800 strong and supported by parents and students and businesses alike. We had two businesses bring us water today and coffee. But Where’s Vargas?…

    • Lech Walesa Says:

      Where was Dr. Vargas? Seriously? You expected him to come and drop off donuts? As a KSD parent, this level of intelligence from a teacher worries me.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        We are obviously not expecting Vargas to come to our rally. Our questions about Where’s Vargas? has to do with his leadership in bargaining or lack thereof.

      • A Kent Teacher Says:

        Since he hasn’t attended a bargaining session yet, I think it’s a fair question. Where is his leadership? Read below for the parent that actually tried to call him and find out some answers. I was shocked.

      • KSD Student Says:

        As a KSD student, yours worries me even more. Way to insult the intelligence of my teachers just because a simple slogan went over your head.

  9. TJ Says:

    The Lake Youngs community was very supportive of us today, many showing their support through honks, waves, and thumbs up. We also had seen community members drop off “creature comforts” such as coffee, soda pop, candy, munchies, and a case of water. One young man drove up, hopped out of his car, and ran over to hand us a microwave popcorn pack saying he loves teachers and supports what we are doing. We could only get his name was Alex. We had three homes offered for the use of their “water closets.” Finally, several parents and students showed up just to talk and give us their support.

    We were also supported by other unions’ members who would not cross our picket line to complete their task.

  10. Happy but Eager to go back to school Says:

    I nearly started crying when two cars drove past with “We support teachers” written in their windows and signs held out the windows saying things like “KSD Stack em Deep, Teach em Cheap” and cheering and waving. We saw them again later on and it seemed they were driving around to the different groups picketing. I can’t tell you how moving that was to see such support along with the cheering, honking and waving from countless other motorists driving by. We have truly reached our community with what REALLY matters to us and they understand that it isn’t just about our paychecks but about their child’s education and our abilities to make it the best it can be.

  11. CounterpointSue Says:

    I would like to share a neat experience we had at Meeker. As you may know, we don’t really have too many houses right next to us or across from us because of the Soos Creek Trail. We were just starting our picketing when the one person with a house near us came across, introduced himself as Ed Moore, and offered to let us use his bathroom (we were depending on a porta-potty at the trail head) during the strike, and offered to let us park in his pasture instead of at the park and ride a half mile up the hill. We were overwhelmed by his family’s generosity.

  12. Barbara Says:

    As a teacher who supported other teachers today, I cannot say enough to the collaboration of all involved. At many sites, parents dropped off cold water, popsicles, donuts and even Arby’s. Local businesses, churches and neighbors lended a hand in providing parking and even bathroom privledges. Hundreds of positive honks and waves. Thanks to the support of the Kent community. Clearly, the district does not believe we have your support, and I for one, want to thank you for it! Cheers to the parents and the Kent community!

    And…I can’t forget the students too. They held signs, came with parents, brought treats, and one even delivered juice boxes on his bicycle!

  13. Georgia Says:

    Today as I walked with my colleagues at Park Orchard, the community was very supportive. Most of the people in cars honked or waved. Several parents and students stopped by to chat and encourage us. One person brought us a case of water, another offered to bring ice. 3 different families offered us the use of their bathroom facilities since we can’t go into the school bldg. Thank you to our community for your positive words and action showing your support!

  14. Aware citizen Says:

    You’re dilusional! The vast majority of community members are furious over this strike and the greed of the union.

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      aww…too bad you can’t spell “delusional” 😦

    • Julie Says:

      Furious? Well, the high numbers of cars that honked in support, waved and gave the thumbs up, yelled words of encouragement…that all speaks otherwise. This happened over and over again both at my school and at the rally yesterday in front of the administration building. I definitely felt supported by the community. It was great.

      Greedy? We are 80th in pay in the Puget Sound region. This has been going on for a long time to get this low. We are not at the top of the pay scale, asking for more. We are asking to be fairly compensated along with other districts in the area. Other districts that have been making a better salary than us for a long time (even in this bad economy…).

      Greedy? Our administrators are among the top 5 highest paid districts. Our new superintendant makes nearly a quarter million dollars. We are just asking to be averaged with surrounding districts. That’s not greed.

      • Julie Says:

        Sorry-I meant that we are the LOWEST PAID district in the Puget Sound region; 80th lowest in the state.

      • Lech Walesa Says:

        I thought someone earlier said it wasn’t about pay? Every teacher I see on the news gripes about pay. You guys all need to be on the same page.

    • theresa Says:

      The sad thing is that if you understood how the KSD financial priorities have been shaped these past few years, you would be furious with the School Board and the administration of our district. You are probably not aware that of the items on the lists of possible cuts presented to the public last year, there were $8.2 million of bargainable items. Those are things that have to be negotiated with the unions before they can be cut. The district has cut the hours of the clerical workers across the board by 15 minutes a day- this means almost $100 less a month for those workers who in the past five years have had their hours cut and their workload increased. This past cut was blamed on the teachers- they need that money to give us a raise! What a crock! The districts coffers have been growing steadily. They have $21 million in the bank right now. They could change their priorities from being administrator heavy (among the top paid administrators in the area) to spending more money on teaching and teaching supplies (where they rank among the lowest). Every child deserves a quality education. We want to be in our classrooms preparing for another great year with our students. The teachers have made Kent the #1 district in the state for technology. We need more time, we need a reasonable class size (my initial numbers at the high school level were 38, 37, 37, 36, and 29 kids in my five classes of three completely different subjects) and manageable case loads for our specialists. Do we want better compensation? Yes. But it isn’t all about money. It is about providing a quality education for all students.

  15. Aware citizen Says:

    Of course…. You “moderate” all comments so only the few posts from teachers and union members are visible…..

  16. Tanya Says:

    Teachers from Horizon Elementary were amazed and so very grateful for the flood of support we received. Standing in the hot sun, we were told by parents and families we could “count on them”. Many shouted, “Good luck.” and “We support you.” Others graciously offered their homes for bathroom breaks or just to get away from the heat. At one point, a kind-hearted woman showed up with trays loaded with cups of ice water. She simply said, “I saw you here and wanted you to have this.” Big thanks to this mystery woman! The water renewed our spirits and made us all feel incredibly thankful.

    We were so appreciative to those of you that honked horns, waved, gave a “thumbs-up” and returned our friendly smiles. Donuts delivered by other teachers gave us the burst of energy we needed to continue. Yet, your support meant even more! Thank you, Dean & Jim!

    Finally, to the businesses that responded to our request by whole-heartedly saying, “Of course, whatever you need”, many wide-smile thanks!

    Horizon teachers believe in our hearts that we are doing this for you, the community, and especially the children we see everyday. We are advocating for the children of Kent packed into crowded classrooms. We demand better for them. So, again, many thanks to all that showed support for us and our students.

    Tanya Uyeda

  17. theresa Says:

    Kentlake High School had great turnout. We were showered with gifts from the community, beginning with a tenth grade student who rode his bike up to school with a backpack filled with juice for the teachers. He was sad he couldn’t stay to join us without a parent.
    Lake Sawyer store sent over muffins and donuts. People were stopping their cars and handing us pop, water, Popsicles. Many people honked in support.
    It was so cool.
    My husband was at the school board meeting last night. Parents filled the hall and when our strike was announced, they were really mad. But not at the teachers- they were mad at the school district and the school board.
    It is so sad that there is no sense of urgency from the School Board or Dr. Vargas. I can’t help but wonder…where is the leadership?
    I am proud that the public understands what our issues- time, workload, and compensation- means to their children. We want a quality education for every child in Kent.

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      VARGAS VACATION, BABY! The new superintendent is apparently still learning about his new district, as evidenced by the utter cluelessness he demonstrated at Monday’s PTA meeting. There were over a dozen questions directed to him and that ‘transparent’ woman who speaks for the KSD had to step in to answer all but three! He knows NOTHING about the broken district he has inherited. All he knows is how to attempt to intimidate his employees, waste tens thousands of dollars sending out extremely biased and disrespectful letters to students and teachers trying to win the favor of the community, oh, and cash in close to a quarter MILLION dollar salary. And how much more are tax payers paying him compared to the last superintendent? Wasn’t it like $70,000 more per year!?!??!!?

      Do YOU think with the lack of action Vargas and fellow school board members have displayed that he deserves that kind of salary?

      Does his inaction in his first few months lead you to believe that the Kent School District will be taken in a positive direction under his leadership?

      Do you think any of the school board members deserve to be reelected?

      • United Says:

        What amazes me is, some of our parents out there are believing the school district’s information. Now, geez, why would Kent teachers risk the negative comments and pressures from the community, if their issues were not important?

        Now, some parents think we are magicians? We can magically turn tiles into marble? Don’t expect miracles when you have an administration that does not provide a teacher the tools they need to do their jobs!!

        Research has shown that children learn better in smaller class sizes..something like 17 students or less! But that’s common sense anyway, don’t you think?

  18. Brandy Says:

    At SW we had people honking in support. Some parents came out and visited bringing their kids. We had a “meet and greet” scheduled for today that obviously was canceled. However, we still had some kids come to the picket line and meet their new teachers. People brought us cases of water, bottles of gatorade, oranges and a lot of waves. I would also like to say that I am so proud of the teachers I work with. It was a long day and we were all feeling it, but we pushed on and took care of each other.

    • ksdmom Says:

      And yet, at SW, we have class sizes of 21 – 23 kids in the lower grades and even the 30 in the upper grades has worked fine for our kids. How small do you want the classes to be? What are you wanting at SW?

      • Brandy Says:

        Ksdmom, that is a great question. I’m glad that you asked since there are buildings where class size isn’t currently an issue. We are lucky to have lower class sizes this year. Even with AYP kids transferring we are doing well. 3rd grade is sitting at 24. The thing that makes us all nervous is that if more kids come in, there is nothing to keep the classes from getting too high. We haven’t always been this fortunate. We have had classes at 27-29 in the lower grades. One year there were 31 2nd graders in both math classes. We have had Kindergartens with high numbers in the past.

        We would like to have a cap to the number of kids that can be in a class so that we can keep our low class sizes.

        As you and I have both pointed out, we are very fortunate out at SW this year. There are other schools that are not so fortunate.

      • Kent Teacher Says:

        SW does not have the ELL or Special Education population that other schools such as Meadow Ridge has. Student needs vary from school to school. SW is not one of the more diverse schools in the district. I had nine different languages in my class. I highly doubt that SW experienced that. Nothing against SW of course, it’s just the reality of other schools within our district.

      • Brandy Says:

        Kent Teacher you are absolutely right. SW doesn’t have the diversity that other schools have. When I taught at SB my class was 50% ELL and that class had 28 kids in it. (kindergarten) That’s just crazy!

  19. Anonomous- is this really for the kids??? Says:

    It is appauling to me that in this time of economy issues, we have Professionals who say they do their job for kids, when they are just being selfish of their own needs. Reduced class size and less meetings huh….well if the community and parents only knew how many teachers leave right after the school bell rings or come in right before their class instead of staying through their contract time, skip meetings that they should be in especially with regard to Special Ed. students, IEP’s and 504’s. When a parent comes in to meet with a teacher in their stated times, it is ironic the office can’t find them, and come to find out they had already left for the day. Maybe school days need to be extended to provide more time, to lessen the numbers in your classes, or maybe having better classroom management skills to be able to support all learners in your classes.
    The needs are definitely heard, but hard to validate when you will be teaching students in your classroom whose parents have been out of work for 6-12 months, or parents who now finally got a job, but can’t start because their kids will not be starting school on time. It is time to put your selfishness aside and do the best you can with what you have and use your time more wisely, instead of texting all through class or emailing your friends, during a time you should be meeting with students for that individual time.

    Maybe it is time to get out of the profession if you are complaining about how many students you have, and not wanting to be in too many meetings…..It used to be teachers went into this profession for the kids and only for the kids…..not just to have summers off.

    • Happy but Eager to go back to school Says:

      I would highly encourage you to go to and look at what teachers mean when talking about meetings. They are not talking about IEP meetings they are talking about staff meetings that can be called without limit.
      I also know VERY few teachers who come in just before class starts and leave directly after school. I am often at school until 5 at night and usually have lots of company. Teachers who do leave right on time are usually taking the work home with them to do after their kids are in bed.
      Sometimes the most amazing class management skills on the planet can’t help you when you have too many special needs kids needing your attention. I’m not just talking about children on IEPs but children who need extra attention due to outside factors.
      I respect your anger and your right to be upset, but please continue to educate yourself on our issues.

    • Proud to be Teaching Says:

      Teachers cannot be in two places at once. If you cannot find a teacher, she’s/he’s probably in a meeting elsewhere, or driving to the store to buy more cookies for the hungry kids whose families cannot afford to provide a daily snack, or she/he is on their way to a home visit, or the teacher is attending a college class (because we have to take classes and PAY FOR THEM OURSELVES–UNLIKE BOEING WHO PAYS FOR THEIR EMPLOYEE’S EDUCATION–in order to stay certified), or she/he is going home to work on lesson plans (which btw, take hours to write up each week), reading the next required reading by her/his principal, etc, etc. The list is endless, but guess what? Teachers also have personal lives.

      We as educators do our best to educate others; that is our profession, and we will continue to educate the community about our issues.

    • Barbara Says:

      Just to clarify, I do not get summers off. Nor do I get Christmas (excuse me, winter break), Presidents week, or Spring break as a “holiday”. I get paid for the 182 days I work. My time away from school is just that, my time. I do not get paid for it, nor would I say I went into education for it. I love my students. I do not love 6:00 AM IEP meetings that I do not get paid for, but I go when neccessary. I have also attended way too many IEP meetings with NO parents attend. Please take the time to be informed on all issues. We too, have teachers in our midst that have spouses who have lost jobs. The Kent School District needs to bargain in good faith, and to date, they have not done so. You should be asking yourself, “Where is our new superintendent, Dr. Vargas? What is the KSD and Dr. Vargas doing to support my children?” When you find the answer, please let us know.

    • KentResident Says:

      In regards to accusations about teachers “texting and emailing” during class: it is unfair to place that type of stigma on all teachers. Also, can you honestly say that every second of your day at your work is spent being productive? You’ve never taken a personal call on company time? You’ve never checked your email? Really? Would you stay two hours late at work every night, knowing you weren’t getting paid for it? Teachers work hard and perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with one. However, I encourage you to have more information about the real issues. And not to lump teachers into one negative experience you’ve had.

      • United Says:

        Thank you! You are awesome.

      • Len Dawson Says:

        I e-mail during the work day. TO PARENTS! Dozens of them, every single day. And then dozens more to parents, colleagues, and even students at home every day, too.

    • Len Dawson Says:

      The economic condition of the community or country doesn’t change the principles of this matter and when they are wrong, they are wrong. This strike isn’t making life easy for teachers or their families – lots of them, including mine, are making big risks and sacrifices to fight for what is right. You should be thankful to have teachers in your district with such principles and values.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      This teacher just wanted to let you know how good I am at texting between my 5 schools and 125 students that I grade at the elementary level. I’m also good at eating my lunch as I drive, between my 5 schools. I’m also good at setting up 30 chairs, a computer, and a smartboard in less than 15 minutes after walking to my classroom. And let me tell you about my summer: out of my family’s pocket, I had to pay for two classes (80 hours total) to improve my teaching skills – these classes cost me $1500.00, that I don’t get reimbursed for. I also spent 30 hours rewriting my curriculum based on what I learned this summer, that I didn’t get paid for. My own children didn’t get to go to Wild Waves or get a free hand out because I was preoccupied with making my teaching presentation and expectations better. My husband and I work for every thing we get, and we spend it on YOUR KIDS! I’ve also been to IEP meetings where the parent doesn’t show up. There are a lot of variables to teaching – maybe you should come spend a week with a teacher and see what they really do.

      • KSD Grad Says:

        OK Please don’t tell me that everything that you get you spend on MY kids. We all choose professions that may require us to advance our learning ON OUR OWN! And if you choose to do that well then CONGRATULATIONS but don’t expect anything in return. I too have a job that requires constance continuing education and I have to pay for that myself. I don’t get reimbused either but it makes me a better employee and that should be the reward, not compensation. If you expect to be reimbused for every little class you take, get out of the profession. By the way, your kids weren’t the only ones not attending Wild Vaves this summer so boo hoo. Maybe there are families that just can’t afford it. Must be nice if time was the reason and not the sheer cost of getting into the place to begin with. As a VERY INVOLVED parent volunteer in my children’s school I am all for having great teachers who want to be there educatiing our children. But I am also a parent of a child who I had to FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL to get on a 504 plan because I couldn’t get meetings with the teacher and appropropriate staff. I have also spent countless hours in the classroom and have witnessed inappropriate use of classroom time by the teacher. This is not all teachers but have witnessed several. If teachers don’t all want to be lumped into one category, don’t lump parents into one either. Some of us do show up for mandatory meetings, which, must be nice since they are after school hours at a time when most parents have to take time off of work to attend.

    • Kent Resident since 1990 Says:

      My wife is a teacher at the elementary level. She teaches multiple grades in the same classroom and usually has 30 or 31 kids per class. She goes in early, prepares lessons weekends and nights, grades nights, often seeks my assistance. She has noticed that the principal at her school calls staff meetings during report card preparation, and immediately before or after parent teacher appointments. There seems to be a total disregard and lack of sensitivity for the plight of a hard working teacher by the principal and administration. Let me add that we have spent thousands of dollars which are not reimbursed, for things like printer cartridges and tissues for the classroom. My wife graduated magna cum laude and is a talented, gifted and amazing teacher. I have seen her take a child a year behind, and get him a year ahead, while instilling a love for reading, science, history and other subjects. Please support the teachers, unless you have walked in their shoes, you have no idea how difficult their job is, and how wonderfully they give of themselves, day after day, FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

    • Dedicated and Tired Says:

      For those people who think this is a bad time to strike, I have to ask: When is it ever a good time to strike? Have you thought about the fact that a teacher’s working environment is a child’s learning environment? If we accept another 2 or 3 year contract that provides no relief for time and workload issues, those are 2 or 3 years that students will never get back. Two or 3 years of crowded classrooms where individual needs are not met, and group needs are barely met.

      Two more years of poor working conditions is half of a high school student’s high school career, ALL of middle school, and 1/3 of elementary school. And there is no guarantee the economy will be better in two more years. Do we say, “We’ll do better with the next generation…providing the economy is good,” and throw up our hands in defeat for now? NO. The district needs to put kids first and let teachers have reasonable workloads and time to meet kids’ needs.

      Kent teachers are not asking for anything that the districts around us don’t already have–and if it were just about the money, none of us would have become teachers in the first place.

      So to answer your question, “Anonomous,” yes, it is REALLY for the kids. Why else would we be giving up 7.5 hours unpaid hours a day to picket in the blazing hot sun for what is right? We’d much rather be in our classrooms with our students or at home with our own families.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    At Glenridge Elementary we had lots of great support! A parent did a coffee run for us (& wouldn’t accept any money), students baked us cookies & a few parents close by let us use their house for bathroom breaks & offered to make us lunch. We had lots of honks, thumbs up & waves. We had construction on our street & the workers were very supportive of us too. It was very heart warming to see how well supported we were!

  21. Supportive Citizen Says:

    Many, no most, teachers went into their jobs for kids, not summers off. Most have obtained graduate degrees, only to be paid far less and have more demanded of their time, than others, with similar degrees, who chose different professions. If that isn’t dedication to kids, I don’t know what is. Teachers in Kent are paid for 7.5 hours each day, but many work far more. Yes, some abuse the system, just like any job. However, the bottom line is, that if we want high-quality teachers, those who are in in for kids and who work beyond their contracted day, we need to pay them well and show them the respect that any professional deserves.

  22. Tom Larsen, KW Says:

    “Aware citizen Says,”

    If you read the posting rules on this blog, you will see that the policy is that only abusive comments and spam are deleted. Do you have proof that large amounts of people do not support us? I was at 11 schools today, helping to drop off signs and check in with different buildings, and I saw an overwhelming display of support from the community, and only some dissent or indifference. Do you have proof that anyone’s comments are not being posted? There are quite a few anti-strike, anti-teacher, and anti-union comments that I’ve found.

    Since this blog is mainly for teachers, doesn’t it make sense that many positive comments would be posted here? Perhaps if you think that this blog is propaganda, you should check out the District’s blog, where you can find the truth. Oh wait, they don’t have one, because they don’t want anyone to comment on their propaganda. Any KEA claims are open for debate here.

    People that don’t know the facts of what really happens in our classes every day are very good at making pronouncements about our reality. Since everyone has gone to school, everyone thinks that they are experts on education. I challenge you skeptics to do the following: take a weeks’ vacation or leave from your job, and volunteer in a school. Help out in a kindergarten class. Work with ELL or Special Ed students. Help a high school English teacher grade essays. Your perspective will change. Or, hide behind your keyboard and continue to make unfounded accusations.

    • Support Our Teachers Says:

      I have volunteered in classrooms. I cannot even begin to imagine how teachers deal with 29 students, make plans to meet their needs, and then grade tests, post grades, meet, meet, meet with parents, administration, and tutor after school.

      As parents, we know how tiring and frustrating it is to raise two or three kids. What about teachers doing this with 29 or 35 everyday for 5 hours each day.

    • Teacher Says:

      Well said. Well said. Anyone who has spent time in a school as an adult volunteer or employee will gain a tremendous amount of perspective.

    • KSD Student Says:

      Larsen, you rock 🙂

  23. Thank you parents! Says:

    I want to thank the parents, citizens and other community folks who honked, waved, and basically supported the teachers across the district. Many offered to let us use their driveways to park, their bathrooms, and area businesses agreed to the same.

    The power of the union is also supported by our community members. We all want to see a resolution before too long, but not at the expense of our students and teachers having wall to wall kids in one classroom.

    Those parents who have read our issues and support us, we thank you!!

  24. Emma Says:

    Panther Lake had 4 sets of popsicles dropped off by 3 different families and an anonymous young lady. Several families stopped by to offer their support as well. It was GREATLY appreciated! Trucks and cars were honking ALL day–what an amazing out pouring of support! Thanks to the church that allowed us to use their parking lot and facilities. Thanks for understanding that this is important. I am proud of my colleagues!!

  25. Former Kent teacher Says:

    KEEP FIGHTING, Kent teachers!

    I taught in Kent for 2 years and loved the staff and students. This summer, I moved to a different state and recently started working at a new public high school. Even though I didn’t doubt that what the KEA was bargaining for was reasonable before I moved, the conditions in my new district/state have further convinced me. For comparison to the proposals from KSD, the contract I just signed:

    *Caps academic classes at 28 (which is a LARGE class here — I only have 24 desks in my room though because my average class size this year is 21 students).
    *Limits after school meetings to two 45-minute meetings per month (plus 4 additional meetings at the discretion of the superintendent)
    *provides up to $1400 per year for professional development reimbursement
    (I won’t mention compensation — pay is quite a bit higher, but I’m not sure how the cost of living compares)

    I know how hard Kent teachers work, and they deserve reasonable working conditions. My heart goes out to all of you! If the KSD wants to retain the great teachers it already has and attract good teachers from other areas, it needs to listen to the demands of the union — the KEA is only requesting concessions that are common elsewhere and that will help teachers be their most effective in the classroom.

    • DES Says:

      To Former Kent School Teacher: thank you so much for your post. I hope thousands of people get to read it. You have illustrated our points precisely, educated those who need more information, and demonstrated to the district why we are willing to take this leap for our community and students. You are no longer a KSD stakeholder, but rather someone who has lived it and now sees how education can truly be for all students — even in difficult economic times.

    • KSD Student Says:

      Sorry to lose another good teacher. Several of my favorites at KW have left now, and it’s really sad.

  26. Wanting School To START Says:

    I admit it. I went in all last week cleaned desks, washed chairs, moved furniture, and decorated walls. I love what I do and do what it takes to get the job done! I had a parent stop me today and ask as I held my sign what is it that makes me strike. She didnt seem to be happy with the fact we were out striking yet took the time to talk to me. I told her that the biggest issue we want resolved is Class SIZE. I explained the count of ELL students for 1.5, I talked about my class last year at 26 and 9 were ELL 2 Special Ed, and 1 that was autistic. We talked about communication with parents, getting the community involved with school events and many more sujects. Once she left she said “It really makes me mad that the district hasn’t even tried to listen.” I told her about the boxes and tape and she commented… that is the best they can do?
    I do also want to thank the first grader who spent his morning making snow cones, the wonderful ladies who brought the easy up tent for shade and the countless waves, smiles, and honks from all our community supporters.

  27. Gladys Derby, KW Says:

    Today at Kentwood, the community reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Local businesses opened their space and facilities to us. First thing in the morning a recent KW graduate and her younger sister, an incoming freshman, came with two cases of water and half a dozen boxes of granola bars. “I would stay and wave signs with you guys, but I have to go to work in an hour,” the elder sister told me. Classified staff (on a separate contract) stopped by and got signs for her and her colleagues. In the heat of midday, several recent graduates came by with boxes of popsicles and encouraging words of support. Most drivers were positive–honking horns, waving, thumbs-up, etc.–a few neutral, and sparse few caustic thumbs-down.

    I had dinner tonight with colleagues who teach in a different district–and they were floored by the class numbers that are the norm in Kent high schools. “It’s a workload issue, Gladys–” she took the words right out of my and my association’s mouth. Our students deserve the sound teaching practice of one-on-one time with teaching professionals as a norm rather than an exception.

  28. United We Stand, Divided We Beg Says:

    HUGE APPLAUSE to the teamsters for supporting us and not crossing our picket lines to do their jobs!!

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      Why would a teamster need to cross your picket line?

      • kteach Says:

        UPS drivers are teamsters

      • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

        Hey Jimmy. Send me some men to volunteer in a classroom as my colleagues teach kids.

      • KSD Grad Says:

        Unfortunately ktech, don’t read too much into it. UPS drivers can’t cross picket lines as part of their employement (our neighbor is a UPS driver), it’s not because they support the teachers strike.

  29. Len Dawson Says:

    At KM we had almost total positive responses from the passing traffic. We had great support from local businesses in letting us use their facilities. We had parents bringing licorice and water and other nice things to support us.

    I got a text during my picketing from a colleague who was not coming because they voted against the strike. At first this seemed logical – to not join the picket since you didn’t vote for the strike. But upon more reflection I think this actually makes no sense. If you don’t want the strike, it’s too late now. If you want it to go away, show up and make it more impactful. Even if you don’t agree with the overwhelming majority of the union that voted for this – they are out there fighting for better things for you, too – so show up and support them. Sitting it out is the same as pouting because you didn’t get your way.

  30. Martin Sortun parent Says:

    I was just curious if some teachers could give us examples of what kind of endless meetings are going on? What are the topics?

    • DES Says:

      Martin Sortun parent: Thanks for putting in the effort to educate yourself. Speaking for the elementary level, the worst hit by endless meetings are the special education teachers. They must sit in on meetings that begin 1.5-2.0 hours before they are on the clock only to be asked to then spend anywhere from .75-2.0 hours after their paid day ends on the same day. These meetings can be anywhere from 2-5 days a week. How do they have time to prepare for their lessons and work on all of their IEP reports (some of which are now 60 pages long per student!)?

      As for the classroom teachers, they are required to meet before school with their team for an undesignated amount of time, but typically .5-1.0 hours depending on the amount of interruptions, once per week; staff meetings that can range from .75 minutes to three hours, depending on the school, once per week; fill in requested training classes for new curriculum or technology which is frequent and ongoing since we’ve had five new curricula in the past three years, and a wealth of technology handed to us that requires personal time to learn to operate after said trainings; end this off with meetings for special education students which can be .5-3.0 hours long depending on the student/school/issues, which can be 0-2 times a week on average depending on how many of these students have already been identified in a class or how many students a teacher is working on to get extra help or proper placements. Then there are duties in the morning and afternoon such as bus duty, breakfast duty, patrol, playground, committee meetings, professional book group meetings, etc that get tacked on each week on a regular basis. I would boldly state that each teacher has maybe one day per week without district or building or classroom obligations in which s/he may leave somewhere near a decent hour or spend time with a student/parent.

      Now add on to all of this the fact that teachers MUST keep their professional learning intact by attending classes of their choosing. These are typically two times a week until 6:30-7:00 pm.

      The basic premise is that a teacher’s day is so sliced and diced that students tend to be the LAST person we can possibly imagine spending time with before or after school due to the endless interruptions and demands on our time. We would prefer the students be the FIRST on the list. Not something we squeeze in on an inconsistent basis.

      My personal children have given up sleep to get up early to go meet with a high school teacher only to find the teacher whisked away to an emergency meeting while my child waits, confused, in the hallway with no explanation and ultimately no help. This happens more often than not. I then have to explain the situation to my own child about our district’s tactics and priorities.

      I hope this helps. I hope a middle school and high school teacher will explain their plight. I know they have a totally different landscape. Please keep asking for clarification where you feel you need more information to keep well educated on this issue. Please speak to your family and friends and coworkers about what you learn.

    • Kent Teacher Says:

      At my school we have a “staff meeting” after school 4 times a month. My principal does not prepare for these meetings and often just regurgitates PowerPoint’s she has collected from her administrator meetings. We are not paid for the last 30 minutes of these meetings because there is a loophole in our current contract that allows administrators to keep teachers after paid time without pay if the meeting is a “staff meeting.”
      In addition to these staff meetings, teachers at my school are required to attend a program meeting once a week and a school improvement plan meeting 1-4 times a month.
      Also teachers must meet with special education teachers and parents before and after school to help update iep’s (individual education plans) and 504’s (a similar kind of education plan).
      I NEVER have paid time left before or after school to meet with students, communicate with parents, plan my lessons, meet with colleagues, or grade papers. All is done on MY time because I care about student success.
      This strike is about refocusing a teacher’s school day on students not meetings.

  31. TeacherGuy Says:

    At Kent Phoenix Academy our rough estimates of reactions from passersby was about 95% positive. But let me address the 2 main issues: Class size is a major problem, it is difficult to teach a 32 student, computer-based class with 25 computers (that’s the size the class should be). It is difficult to grade 175 assignments a day (35 students times 5 for each class) in the 30 minutes or so before our paid hours are done, especially if ALL those minutes are consumed by a meeting. Meetings can happen 2-3 days a week and can be called at the last minute. Most teachers end up taking work home almost every night.
    And speaking of compensation, while it isn’t a major issue this time, it should be addressed. Kent is one of the lowest paying districts in the Puget Sound region and I personally know some teachers who have left the district in search of higher pay. It was an agonizing decision but they made it for the sake of their families. Do you really want the best Kent School District teachers lured to other districts where they can make as much as $10K (a comparison between Kent and Bellevue) for the same job. Teachers want to send their kids to college too, ya know!
    Do we really have to have some of the worst working conditions AND almost the lowest pay? Really?

  32. Teacher Says:

    Martin Sortun Parent,

    One example of a meeting would be yesterday. We spent a couple of hours going through our school handbook, the same one we go through each year. We review the same information we reviewed the year before and the year before and the year before….. nothing new there. We watched the same video on hazardous waste materials that we watched the previous year. We did an icebreaker activity to get to know the people we’ve already known for years. Last school year, we were given a binder containing the new math standards and a worksheet. We had to go through the binder and look for the words that would fit correctly on the blanks of the worksheet. These meetings were mandatory and the agendas were set by our administrator. It was a total waste of time and the time could have been spent in our classrooms planning curriculum for the upcoming school year.

    • Martin Sortun parent Says:

      that is so typical of any organization- get to know you games and lets read you word for word a binder because the teacher couldn’t possibly readit themselves. As a parent of 2 SN students I would love to knock out the useless meetings so when my IEP meetings come around everyone doesn’t feel rushed and anxious to just get out. I always feel like these meetings are squeezed in and just aren’t that important. Now i know why- there are just too many meetings for no logical reasons. Thanks for the answers! Good Luck! AND please GOd let an agreement be reached soon becfore my kids drive me insane:)

      • Let's Get a Fair Contract Says:

        You are the kind of parent who helps things progress in our society. Thank you so much for reading, digesting, and understanding our issues. I wish other people were good listeners like you are.

  33. Glenridge mom Says:

    I am happy the teachers are standing up for our kids.They do need smaller classes.Meetings cut to 1 a week.Nobody needs 4-5 meetings a week.If the district doesnt have the money then the big wigs should take a pay cut.They make way to much money.Sure I want my kids back in school but I rather have happy teachers teaching my kids more than hats off to you teacher!!!!!!!!!!!!!! dont cave in stand up for the kids….

  34. concerned parent Says:

    Obviously, I’d like school to start on time — our kids get out too late in the year already — but I’ve been concerned for a while about teacher-student ratios in the classrooms, and I support this strike for that reason.

    I’ve attended several meetings with parents and teachers, and at meeting, two teachers talked about how they had to tutor kids every day to keep them from falling behind. They were not paid for the time they spent tutoring, but they cared enough about the students to help them every day. With smaller classes, they would be able to spend class time helping struggling students.

    I question KSD’s transparency about the cost of smaller classrooms. The district says it would cost $2.5 million to reduces classes by one student. In what universe would classes of one student be created? KSD’s figure leaves the impression that it would cost $2.5 million PER STUDENT to create smaller classes, but that’s really the amount to pay the salary of teachers for that many extra classes, right? How about some transparents facts? (This transparency applies to the union, too!)

  35. Teacher Gal Says:

    At Northwood, we had wonderful community members (some were not even Northwood parents!) drop off water, snacks, good wishes and support. They even offered their restrooms! Informed parents are out there, know the issues we face and that their kids face in over-crowded classrooms. The comments were personal and very touching. Thanks to all out there supporting our efforts.

  36. neelyparent Says:

    In regards to time for lesson planning:

    The latest KSD contract proposal (in regards to elementary level) adds 2 days of late arrival/early dismissal for the express purpose of reviewing student data and planning for interventions. Community work sessions are prescribed to get Kent residents feedback on adding more of these days in the future.
    Someone needs to take a leadership role and forgo these “community work sessions” and make it happen. Other districts have gone to a half day per week (or every other week)….why can’t Kent in the interest of increasing the quality (vs quantity) of time spent in school. By doing this it would provide more lesson plan time so all kids benefit (not specifically the ones requiring intervention).
    Parents I know from other districts say it is a hard sacrifice, but at least nice to have a set day that they know will be an early release day…as opposed to the many random half days this school district operates with.
    There’s no doubt that in this economy it would be a tough sacrifice, but should be considered at least for the 2010-2011 year.

    I’d be interested to hear what dialogue Kent teachers have had with other district teachers who work in districts that have a shortened schedule. Are they able to successfully cover what they need to with the shorter week?? Are districts that have reduced their schedule doing so to provide teachers with more lesson planning time, or are they doing so with a salary cut??

    Good luck….hope this is resolved soon for everyone’s sake.

    • cedervalleyteach Says:

      Yes, I agree I hope that parents like you are contacting the district and telling them that. I would even be willing to give up that week in Feb to shorten up the school year, those week breaks are such a drain on my students. Isn’t that a fair trade, as teachers we ask for more half days, but will make the parents and students life better by not taking an entire week off in Feb.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      Hi, Neely Parent,

      I hope someone else responds to your questions as well, because I can only speak through my perspective as a music teacher and not as an elementary or secondary teacher that instructs the kids in the “core” classes. I don’t necessarily advocate for delayed start every week, personally. What I really need as a middle school music teacher is to have the meetings before and after school reduced down to just a few meetings each month (I have a minimum of 14 mandatory meetings now, and the core teachers have a lot more than that). If my time could be freed up before and after school for planning and meeting with kids on an individual or small group basis that would go a long ways with me. A delayed start on an every other week basis would be helpful if it were teacher-directed and not district directed at least once a month. District-directed meetings are more helpful in my subject area than for others in this district because our fine arts coordinator for the district does an excellent job of asking us what we need and then she offers the help. Other subject areas get TOLD what they need and it’s often not what the teachers needed at all.

      As for what my colleagues in other districts say (these are music teachers, remember), they aren’t terribly fond of shortening their rehearsal time with their kids every single week. You can’t do a lot in a half hour session. They do appreciate the extra planning time when it is teacher-directed.

      I hope this helps. Elementary classroom teachers–can someone address this for this parent, please? Secondary teachers–what would be helpful for you?

    • Julie Says:

      I came from Bellevue where we had, at the elementary, early release every Wednesday. It was an afternoon where teams could really sit down on a regular basis to plan the most effective lessons and units for their students. Here in Kent, if I meet with my team, it is a hurried event in the morning, or more likely, just on the go. There isn’t the quality time to meet with my team like there should be. I wish we had early release once a week in this district.

      • neelyparent Says:

        Thanks everyone…..this is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for. I will certainly be letting the district know of my concerns. Please keep posting more examples of the benefits/drawbacks to early release once a week (or every other week) so I can share with my community.

      • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

        You know Julie, many many many teachers (as well as the KEA) have suggested the early release model to the administration and used Bellevue as an example. Early release once a week would certainly begin to address KEA’s and teachers’ desire for more time, right? It works in Bellevue, right? Yet the district does not want do this because it messes up their schedules and is an apparent inconvenience as far as buses are concerned. I am not sure why KSD does not spend more time looking at districts where good educational practices are implemented with obvious success. Perhaps because it would cost money that KSD would instead to allocate for administrative salaries? The new superintendent’s $240,000 salary?

        Has it dawned on anyone that the KSD’s $3.8 million in administrative cuts was really only done because of pressure knowing that it needed to reduce it going into this new contract negotiation? BUT KSD had been spending (or should I say OVERSPENDING) that amount in taxpayer dollars for many years.

        Does the community know that the KSD administrative model overspends the state’s suggested spending model by hundreds of thousands of dollars every year?

        Why is there no outrage of this historical waste of money that SHOULD have gone to ensuring a high quality learning environment for students?

      • Julie Says:

        Hey, Love Me…The early release Wednesday was great. I remember the hesitancy by the district when it was first being considered. Not all residents in B’vue are well-off families. But they finally went to that model, and it has been in place for probably about 10 years now. Many other districts have also turned to that model. Kent could easily do it, and ultimately the students would benefit.

      • Brandy Says:

        Looking at what works in other districts or even states….even countries is something I’ve been asking them to do for a long time. The whole SBRS in elementary. I love the concept, love the way it really gets me teaching the standards, but I HATE the actual report card and how the parents get information. There are other districts that use standards based reporting, why do we ALWAYS re-invent the wheel and spend more money than we need to? Other districts are doing amazing things and bringing up test scores. They tend to have lower class size, collaborative team planning and supportive administrators. Kent would rather spend more money and resources to do it their way instead of working with other districts or looking at what is working in other districts.

      • Kent HS Teacher Says:

        In this district, we love to read an article somewhere about a program that is working somewhere else and then bring in that model here. Unfortunately, we don’t fully implement that model and then wonder why it doesn’t work here.

        For example, when the 9th grade moved up to the high school from the junior high, the idea of Small Learning Communities, or SLCs was brought in. Students would be put into groups called pods and travel as a cohort from English to Social Studies to Science. The idea is that this would allow for increased communication between these teachers and integration of coursework. We looked at successful models in other school districts and this model seemed great. The problem is that the other schools who implemented it said that the reasons it was successful were because teachers had:

        1. lower class-sizes
        2. two plan periods a day, 1 for their own use and 1 for the team

        When we asked what our district was going to do to support us in making the “pods” successful, we were told that we didn’t have the money to do those things, so just make it work.

        I have seen this scenario time and time again, the partial implementation of a potentially great idea that fails because we don’t have the support necessary to make it work. Without the keys to success, we can’t make it work, no matter how hard we try. If they’re not going to give us the tools we need to use these types of programs, they should get rid of the programs. They won’t be successful anyway, and it will relieve us from trying to kill ourselves to live up to their impossible expectations.

      • stay at home mom Says:

        We moved here from California 8 years ago. My oldest daughter attended 1st and 2nd grade at a school in CA that had an early release day schedule, and it worked out really well. Four days a week, school ran from 8:25 to 3:45, but every Thursday was 8:25 to 1:15 (or something close to that–it’s been awhile!). The teachers really liked having that block of time every week. It took a bit of getting used to, but it actually worked out really well for most parents. It was a lot easier to schedule appointments on those days and not have to juggle around school times. Because of this schedule, there were no other early release days during the year. I would much prefer to have a set schedule like that than having the short days sprinkled throughout the year. Much more predictable and easier to manage. The kids liked it as well….

      • Anonymous Says:

        It sounds like the Bellevue model has been proposed before and denied from what I see here. I wonder if Vargas may be a little more open to it…..I have been against early release in the past due to the inconvenience it poses to families, but it seems like the benefits may outweigh the sacrifice from the community.
        It looks like Highline district is doing the same thing….

      • neelyparent Says:

        Highline is going to early release every Friday…something they call Professional Collaboration Time.

        My community of parents will be approaching the board and Dr. Vargas to ask why this isn’t being considered…at the least for the 2010-2011 portion of the contract. Please make me aware of any other districts where it is working.

      • NewToKent Says:

        Issaquah has early release or late start (depending on level) every Wednesday. We put a lot of our IEP meetings in then, and team meetings, and big prep projects!

      • New to Kent Too Says:

        I just came from Issaquah as well, and the late start/early release schedule was great. It gave me time to plan my curriculum, collaborate with other teachers, and make sure all of my students were making progress on their goals.

      • Julie Says:

        Lake Washington does early release. I also thought Puyallup did, but I’m not sure. This is probably pretty easy to check out, though.

      • neelyparent Says:

        thanks Julie–
        Look what Puyallup does…

        The 4 other school days are longer to compensate time missed in the classroom. On the early release days enrichment programs are offered to students that are supported by the community.

        Cool stuff.

      • ksdmom Says:

        I like the idea of early release on a set day for all schools in the district. We had that in Issaquah and it worked fine. It was hard for some parents who couldn’t work from home on those days.

        Right now, the late start and early release days that we have occasionally where middle school starts late and elementary gets out early is a pain in the rear. Consistency would be nice and if it gave teachers more time to get things done then I would support that.

      • ksdmom Says:

        I’m also pro-year round school and think that should be considered as a viable option. As long as a family can have all of their kids on the same track, it works very well where I’ve seen relatives who’ve had it.

        Lake Washington has some successful Charter School options they’ve been piloting as well. Having more options would be good.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      I live outside the KSD. My children start two days later than KSD students and get out of school one week earlier with multiple early release days for elementary, and secondary schools so teachers can work on the work EVERY MONTH. They don’t get a full mid-Winter break, but they do get a full Spring break.

      • Julie Says:

        It is possible to reconfigure the yearly schedule in order to put this early release model into place. It would not create a major change in the schedule, either. In B’vue, I think we just extended the days by minutes. It was a minor change.

      • Title Para Says:

        Early release would greatly benefit schoolwide paraeducators as well. We use the “push-in” model of intervention, and this year I will be working with 5 different teachers (5 grade levels). I get a half hour before school for planning time when students are not on campus which is about the only time I can meet with teachers for collaboration (yet another example of the type of MEETINGS that consume teacher time). Maybe I won’t have to meet every week with every teacher, but I just don’t know yet. The early release day would provide much needed time for us paras to pull materials, photocopy lessons and books, etc., for our small groups, or to meet with our teachers. We DON’T NEED a whole week off for President’s Day–let’s just have a 3 or 4 day weekend!

        Hang tough KEA!

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      It is good to see that parents would indeed support a plan with a weekly early release day so that we could spend more out of class time concentrating on working with students needing our help or other activities focused on student learning.

      However, you need to know that it is well known that when KSD says they will “look into it” or that they will “seek community input” that they are being condescending to the community, parents and teachers. They really never have any intention of listening to others unless those other people’s comments agree with what they have already decided to do.

      How many parents went to those community listening meetings in the spring to discuss budget cuts? Clearly that was an early ploy to instill fear in the public and the impression that the district had no money. But were any of the community members’ opinions acted on? NO.

      Add that ploy to the disasterous ploy the KSD did in which they let teachers go as a part of the RIF (reduciton in force). In the months following these announcements, families were torn apart, great teachers moved out of district and worse of all, students were traumatized by losses of some of their favorite teachers….only for the KSD to miraculously ‘find’ the funds to be able to offer positions back to most of those teachers. Unfortunately, irreparable damage was already done and many teachers decided not to come back to that mess, with good reason. Alas, the KSD is able to tout that they are the saviours who were able to work hard to be able to offer their jobs back to them, but their plan was more damaging than they expected.

      In the end, this teacher strike is a show of unity and strength by the teachers to say that they have had enough of the district’s power hungry, disrespectful and short-sighted actions which have resulted in an unacceptable work environment and ultimately (directly or indirectly) hurt students.

      • neelyparent Says:

        I agree that the “community input” option is being used to make it look like action is taking place where there is none. That is why I wish someone associated with the board would show leadership and at least make the “Bellevue Model” a reality for the 2010-2011 school session. It wouldn’t even be truly groundbreaking….Highline is doing the same thing starting this year. They call it Professional Collaboration Time. If the community served by the Highline District can make the sacrifice…why can’t Kent??

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      I know this has been done in Yakima though I don’t know a whole lot about the program. If I remember correctly, every Monday school was shortened by an hour or 90 minutes to give teachers time to collaborate.

  37. Parent Here... Says:

    I am very glad to hear that the community and parents (for the most part) has supported our teachers! I knew there was more out there than just my family!

  38. Jeff Says:

    I have to say, of all the comments I’ve read on hundreds of blogs and news sites, the grammar on this site (in the comments) is superb! The only misspelling I noticed was from the person who came to the site to flame everyone.

    Totally random, I know, but it’s always nice to see that the people who are teaching my child are competent and intelligent. As a parent of a child in 1st grade in the Kent School District, I support all of you! I hope it’s a short strike and that you and our children will benefit from it!

  39. This Parent Supports KEA Says:

    To the person who dare drive down 256th street and display the finger to educators, supporters of educators, and the children who were at the rally today, shame on you. How you could offend and attack the very people who stand for justice for kids , is befuddling to me. I question how you were raised and what makes you such an angry and bitter person.

    Aside from the bitter ones, hooray for our teachers! Horns were honking, teachers were well supported and honored today. I was glad to witness all of it.

  40. Steve Says:

    A little off topic, but something I wanted to share as a parent.

    Dr. Vargas had a robo message sent to the parents of the district talking about the strike and left a phone number if we had any questions (253-373-7466). I called him today. I got the information desk and asked if Vargas was taking calls from parents. She had to ask someone and found that he was taking emails. She asked if I had a specific question that she could answer. I asked if she knew what Vargas’s role was in the negotiation and what was he doing to get this done. She put me on hold for about 5 minutes to ask around. She came back and said that the negotiation team calls him with updates and that it really would be a good question to email to him.

    I said “Thanks fo your help.” She replied by saying thank you for asking so I could research this. I felt bad for the woman that Vargas would leave a number where someone else would be answering his questions.

    • Teacher Gal Says:

      Just another case of where is Dr. Vargas? What would happen if more interested parents called this number? What if the news media tried to call instead? What kind of response might they get?!

    • Let's Get a Fair Contract Says:

      It’s like a “Where’s Waldo?” game. You have to find Dr. Vargas amongst the thousands of Kent citizens. If you find him, you get a prize!!

    • Brandy Says:

      I’m sure his updates from the district team are very informative. Maybe he should sit in on negotiations and see first hand how his administrators treat his teachers.

  41. Andy Glover Says:

    I posted a video of the picket line footage here:

    I’m not sure if embed codes work here, but I will try anyway. enjoy. 🙂

    • kteach Says:

      Thank you. I won’t lie; this made me tear up a little. You rock, Andy.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      Wow Andy!! You are so creative. Good job on filming.

      • Andy Glover Says:

        Thanks you! Filming and driving at the same time is something i was never taught not to do in school, but other than that you teachers did a good job.

      • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

        Stay safe on the road buddy! We really enjoyed watching this. I even found myself. Thanks again.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      Andy, YOU ROCK! Were you performing the music as well? I saw you wrote that the background music was by you.

    • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

      Thanks Andy, you make me proud!
      Did you graduate from KR?

    • This is dangerous Says:

      We should no be encouraging Andy to do this. This is dangerous. Your comments are encouraging a student to drive while holding and operating a camera.

      • Andy Glover Says:

        Maybe you can take solace in the fact that I am no longer a student in the public school system. Take the video for what it was meant to be: a tribute to a large group of people from the same community coming together for one cause.

        Thank you for your concern, I understand that it is dangerous.

    • Brandy Says:

      Andy, not real thrilled to see you driving while filming. Not too safe.

      That being said, thank you for sharing this with us, it was amazing to see us all together. It’s hard from the line to see just how many people are out there or how far up and down the road it goes.

  42. cedervalleyteach Says:

    Just curious why my comments are still pending when other comments have already been posted? I left 3 comments all before 2:30 today and they all still show pending.
    While this video post shows that it was left at 4:12.

    I hope that you are posting everyone’s comments and not filtering anyone.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This blog is not continuously monitored. Comments are approved a few times a day as opportunity allows.

      Only one of the 347 comments that have been submitted over the past few months has been disapproved, and that was solely on the basis of the use of obscenity. Everything else has been posted exactly as written.

  43. cedervalleyteach Says:

    Thank you, within minutes of my last post my other posts were added.

  44. classifiedemployee Says:

    Just wanted you to know that there are many supporters inside the building and we were all silently cheering you on. We did venture out at lunch and showed a loud support of you guys. Good to see a union supporting it’s people, because ours sure doesn’t do a lot for us. As both an employee and a parent of SN kids, I support you!

    • Anonymous Says:

      Thank you so much. Our members need to hear that and need continual support–especially if this strike goes into next week.

  45. Steve Says:

    ”We have a tremendous respect for our teachers. It’s because of that respect that the district chose to address their issues of time for example by offering — let’s lower the degree to which teachers are expected to be in [meetings] at the middle school,” said Becky Hanks of the Kent School District.

    She later tells Mr. Porter that she thought KSD was really close to a deal on the issue of meetings, but – apparently – it wasn’t good enough for the teachers. (That’s the implication)

    At some point KSD is going to have to be more serious than this.

  46. Private citizen says...Big mike 34 Says:

    We are facing real unemployment of 16% in this state…the state has a 9 Billion dollar Deficit ….Foreclosures and unemployment has drastically reduced revenue to the state….
    In private industry many if not most companies have suspended raises for this year…You have a terrific Health Care Plan, better then most of us….and good retirement Benefits…

    I think this strike is a slap in the face to everyone who pays your salaries, the Citizens of Kent.

    “It is for the Children” you claim, ..OK if you are sincere take the 3% raise you were offered and ask the District to hire another 50 Classroom Teachers….and Forgo your raise…the Meetings thing is a valid complaint and I am sure the district will work it out with you…

    Do that and regain some of the respect you have lost…

    • Anonymous Says:

      You are asking educators to take a back seat once again. Across this state with its poor funding and mismanagment of funds in local school districts, it IS about the kids. No doubt. If your argument is implying that teachers are disrespecting you, then you need to stand back and take a look at the administrator’s salaries, benefits, and PAID VACATIONS. Wake up! The truth is coming out and perhaps too hot for you to handle right now, but our tax payers deserve to know where their money IS going.

      Have you read our posts on here about admin salaries?

    • Take it Easy.... Says:

      I do have respect. I have respect for my students who deserve to learn in a healthy environment of 24 or less students! Their needs are great and nothing like they were 15 years ago. I encourage you to volunteer in a classroom on a regular weekly schedule so you can see what happens inside classsrooms. It’s no secret. We aren’t hiding anything.

      I also have respect for my profession. I have accrued enough college credits (which are paid out of our own pockets) and teaching experience to earn not only YOUR respect, but the respect of similar professions (i.e. engineers, doctors, lawyers).

      Benefits? LOL. I pay $670 out of pocket EACH MONTH, to cover my family of four. After taxes I bring home just enough money to miss the cut off where our children would qualify for free lunch. Would that shock you if a doctor told you that his/her family qualified for free lunch?

      Get real. Read our issues. Learn something today, others have already.

    • Got boxes? Says:

      Yes, the STATE is facing 16% unemployment, but not Kent School District. In fact, they have rehired just about all of the teachers they laid off in May. Also, they claim that they have cut some percentage of administration and clerical staff to allow them to make a better monetary offer to teachers. Those “administrators” who were cut were actually Teachers on Special Assignment, Educational Assistants (elementary vice principals), and other personnel who are actually teachers and have large impacts on students and teachers in classrooms. We NEEDED those people to help us get our jobs done! Why do we STILL have such a high ratio of teachers to administrators who have never taught, etc. and are making ridiculous amounts of money?

      Yes, the STATE has $9 billion deficit, but not Kent School District. In fact they have $21-$24 million in reserves, some of it is expected to be saved based on state requirements, and some of it is expected to be held per board policies. KSD claims that all of the reserves are already taken with L&I insurance, other projects, outstanding balances, etc. So the question I have as a teacher is, where are their priorities? Why are they not trying to make sure the teachers are paid well enough to not be on the bottom of the list of Washington school district salaries? Why are our largest classrooms not receiving help towards smaller class sizes?

      Yes, the STATE is losing revenues, but not Kent School District. In fact, they are now between $3-$8 million better off than they were last year at this time.

      Yes, some private companies have suspended raises for this year, but not Kent School District. Just look at Dr. Vargas’ salary as compared to Dr. Grohe’s salary. That doesn’t look like a suspension to me.

      Yes, I have great health care, which *I* pay $750 per month for out of my own pocket, not Kent School District. I essentially am working to be able to provide benefits for my family. Any other monies received beyond that are useful to ease our family budget.

      Yes, I hope to have good retirement benefits. Maybe this is one perk I have to look forward too?

      Yes, these contract proposals should be a slap in the face to all those who pay taxes and don’t see their use in the classrooms, with students. This strike is a consequence of that, not the other way around.

      Yes, we are sincere about asking for assistance with time, workload AND compensation. We don’t expect all of these issues to be solved with this one contract. The problem as I have heard it, is that the district is not even WILLING to sit down and talk about time (until yesterday) or workload. We have been trying to get them to negotiate over these issues since April 2009! I’m not so sure they are going to be “willing to work it out with” us.

      We don’t deserve to be in this adverserial position but it seems the district is too busy dragging their heels and throwing tantrums to consider our ideas when making professional decisions about the classroom.

      • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

        Got Boxes…your response is a work of beauty!
        Now let’s get some tape! heeeheeeee

    • alsoakentteacher Says:

      While the district has offered a 3% raise it is a take it or leave package deal that we must accept with many other contract takeaways that we refuse to accept. Also, the raise is structured so that it doesn’t affect veteran teachers as well as it does beginning teachers.

      The poor economy is something this district is using as an excuse. Our district is NOT suffering! They have over $2 million more in the bank right now than they did at this time last year! Our district has the highest paid administrators in the area & the lowest paid teachers in the area. That alone really shows where their priorities are! Don’t expect student acheivement to increase when kids are in overcrowded classrooms & teachers don’t have adequate time to prepare lessons & collaborate with team members.

      I find it “a slap in the face” that some people in the community think that just because they are tax payers & that they have attended school at some point that they automatically understand what is going on. Please do not try to reasonably debate this issue when you are uninformed! Research, find out more, volunteer in a school. I’ll gladly pay your salary for a year & you do my job. Then, lets talk.

    • alsoakentteacher Says:

      One more thing…we had to fight at the beginning of these negotiations just to keep what we had. Not “oh lets just freeze your salary for this year” It was “we are gonna go ahead & decrease your salary 2-4%” This would have equaled thousands of dollars for many teachers. So, not only are we the lowest paid teachers in the area, our district wanted to decrease our salary even more. Our union has already withdrawn our request for a cost of living increase. We aren’t expecting amazing raises at this time. However, we are expecting to keep the same salary we’ve had, if not a little more, & gain some more time with our students & to plan for them. It seems crazy to me that I have to justify fighting for the time & resources to do my job effectively! We shouldn’t be the ones telling our district “well, here is the job you want me to do, I’ll need this, this & this.” The district should be informed, proactive & planning with the students best interest in mind. Instead we are an administratively top heavy district who just gave our new superintendant either $70,000 or $90,000 (can’t remember which) more than our leaving superintendant making his salary a quarter of a million dollars. I saw Jaguars, Mercedes & Lexus’ rolling out of the district office today. I certainly won’t be driving one of those while I’m still in Kent…unless I become an administrator.

    • Kent Taxpayer Says:

      What an interesting statistic used to make your thesis! It’s a good thing I paid attention when I was in school and learned to look up so-called “facts” and think for myself about the reasons for an opinion.

      Claim 1: The state has a 16% “real” unemployment rate. FALSE. The only place I could find your unemployment statistic was on Sean Hannity’s site and other similar sites. In addition, this statistic was for the nation, not the state of Washington. I’m also not convinced of the methods used to count “real” unemployment; they seem too subjective and easily manipulated. The most recent official data I could find was reported in August for the state of Washington at 9.1%.

      Claim 2: The state has a 9 billion dollar deficit. TRUE, but IRRELEVANT. Yes, the state has a 9 billion dollar deficit, but KSD does not. They have over $20 million in the bank. Even if they don’t want to touch that money, they could also look at new ways of allocating the money that they are currently spending. For example, if one of my bills goes up, but I don’t want to take the money from savings, I can decide if I want to get that money from cancelling my cable service or my landline telephone. Now, those things are nice and they help entertain me and connect me to the outside world, but I can do many of the same things on my computer and so there services are redundant. I’m pretty sure after talking to teachers at different schools across the district, that there are nice, but not essential things that could be cut and the money diverted to providing a competitive wage to teachers. Without a competitive wage, how would you expect private industry to get good employees? It’s the same in the public sector too, you know.

      Claim 3: Foreclosures and unemployment [have] drastically reduced revenue to the state. HALF-TRUTH. Foreclosures have reduced the value of homes and that has meant a drop in property tax revenue. Since Washington does not have an income tax, however, I’m confused as to how unemployment has dropped revenue.

      Claim 4: Teachers have a terrific health care plan and good retirement benefits. DEBATABLE. This is an opinion and we could argue back and forth on this. If you don’t have any health coverage or retirement plan, the teachers’ plan looks pretty good. If you work at Boeing, it’s probably not so great. I personally know a couple of teachers who worked second jobs not just for the income, but also for the health coverage. (And those jobs were in retail!)

      Claim 5: The strike is a slap in the face to everyone who pays [the teachers’] salaries. FALSE. I live in Kent and own a home, so I pay those salaries and it’s not a slap in my face. I guess it’s not everyone.

      Claim 6: Teachers should forgo their raise to fund more teachers in the classrooms. FALSE. KSD already has plenty of money, but they need to do a better job of allocating it. Just read this blog and you’ll get some ideas of how/where this could happen. Also, from my understanding, the teachers have proposed some ideas that wouldn’t even cost the district money, so why doesn’t KSD agree to those? Again, if teachers in Kent remain the lowest paid, economics dictates that we will end up with the lowest quality teachers since those with the talent and expertise will have the ability to go to other, more lucrative positions in other districts.

      Claim 7: Teachers should give up their raise and regain respect. FALSE. Teachers have never lost my respect; I suspect that they could never gain it back from you, because you never gave them respect to begin with. You can’t get back what you never had.

      • I Care Says:

        I’m a taxpayer too. The difference between you and me? I’ve read the issues for Kent teachers and I understand now whereas before I did not have all the info to form an opinion one way or the other.

        Stop your accusations against the very people who have unrealistic demands by their employer than most of us do. Read!! It’ll do your narrow mind some good.

      • Julie Says:

        Kent Taxpayer, you ROCK!

      • Kent Taxpayer Says:

        I Care, I did read the issues and I think we are on the same side here. My post was merely refuting what Big Mike or whatever his name is was saying about teachers. Most of it is totally false.

        I’m guessing that since you were posting after midnight and a very tiring day, you probably missed a few things. That’s OK.

      • Julie Says:

        I got it!

    • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

      Before you can form an opinion, you must know all of the facts.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      Gee, last time I checked my paycheck, they were taking taxes out of my paycheck too. Guess I’m already supporting the unemployed. Don’t worry, if it makes you feel better, my husband is looking at being unemployed by December. I’ll be the bread winner then providing we don’t go to court and end up with a Carte Blanche contract.

  47. TeacherGuy Says:

    If you had been reading this entire blog you would have noticed that class size and meetings are the issues here, not pay.

    • Julie Says:

      Compensation is one of the three main points we are striking for, though, and I’ll never apologize for this. We are just asking to be AVERAGED in with the surrounding districts! This is not anything to be ashamed of. Kent has paid its teachers too poorly for way too long. My first full-time paycheck here in Kent was not much more than my half-time paychecks in Bellevue were.

  48. Kent parent Says:

    How is it that you all can strike now when your current contract doesn’t expire until the 31st? Shouldn’t you be getting your classrooms ready so that when the strike ends you won’t need an extra couple of days to get prepared? Doesn’t the strike violate the current contract’s ‘No Strike/No Lockout” clause? Just curious……

    • Kent HS Teacher Says:

      I suppose we could have waited until the 31st to go out on strike, but that would have only made things worse. The district was not taking us seriously in many, many months of meetings. They refused to negotiate our main issues of time and workload despite the union talking about them since April of 2008!

      By striking before our contract ends, we were able to let the district know we are serious about helping kids and not going to let them delay and evade the issues any more. Granted, there has not been much progress made, but at least the district is beginning to issue ridiculous proposals on these issues, which is more than they would do previously. It’s a baby-step, but it’s a step.

      If we had not gone on strike, we’d be done setting up our classrooms, but those baby steps made the last couple of days wouldn’t have happened. More class time would have been lost because the process of actual negotiation would have started that much later. I was actually happy we went on strike “early” so that it impacted the set-up time first and students second.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      I went to one of my 5 schools three times to get my classroom ready before August 26. It’s a newer portable. The three times I went, there was no electricity going to the building and 3 permits that needed to be approved before occupancy. The custodians were running extention cords from one portable to the newer portable so they could vacuum. They hadn’t cleaned the building to their satisfaction yet. My last report from the head custodian was that the power would be done August 28. I couldn’t get my classroom ready if I had wanted to….oh wait, I did want to. I will still need a couple of days to prepare – one day will be consumed by a district meeting, and the other day will be mine. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, there are bars on the window of that portable with no emergency release from the inside. I can’t wait to teach your children in that room.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      Oh, one more thing: I was so greedy, I did this for YOUR KIDS. Please look at This project has been fully funded as of today – $14,000 worth.

    • kidsandcatsrme Says:

      I left my own three kids at home and spent over 60 hours of my summer vacation time setting up my classroom. I am only paid for one day (7.5 hours) of classroom set up. We chose to strike a few days before school started – hoping that the district would take that time to put a serious proposal together which actually addresses our time, workload and compensation issues so school could start on time.

      The district, however, is continuing to drag its heels. Everyone is upset with teachers, but the district has had four months to negotiate a contract with the education association, but all the district had to say to KEA was no, no, no. The district has known for two months that a strike was very likely, yet they have made no serious attempts to address the issues of time, workload and compensation.

    • Barbara Says:

      Our contract may go through August 31st, but our 182 days ended June 23rd, 2009. Our 182 days we’ve already worked gets drawn out through the summer. On Monday, we’ll get a final paycheck for “last years work”…No time is a good time to strike, but enough is enough. KSD teachers deserve some respect; respectful pay, respectful workloads, respectful class sizes and respect of our time, not to mention respect in general!

  49. FWTeacher Says:

    On Wednesay, the Fairwood 5th and 6th grade teachers found out that the district thinks our two 6th grade classes, two 5th grade classes and one 5/6 class (about 26 students each) are too little! While I believe our principal will do what she can to keep all 5 classes, there is the very real possilbility that the district will decide that we can only have 4 teachers for 5th and 6th grade.

    IF this happens, it will mean our 5 classes of about 26 students each will turn into two fifth-grades of 31 each and two sixth-grades of 34!

    I have had the “pleasure” of teaching a 6th grade class of 33 before. I never had enough time to get around to everyone. There were some students that if I could get to them once a week, I was doing really well. We were always tripping over each other because elementary classrooms are simply not designed to hold that many students. For those of you that don’t know, most sixth-graders aren’t exactly little! I had students that had IEPs for both academics and behavior issues. I had a coupld of ELL students. I also had students that were working two to four years beyond the sixth-grade level. Trying to meet the needs of all 33, much less grade a stack of math tests or essays was always a challenge.
    After the fire drill one day, another teacher in the building wanted to know why there wasn’t a teacher with my group of students, because several of the boys were talking in line during the drill. I was at the front of the line, and she was at the end. She simply couldn’t see me!

    Class size is an issue. Even if your class is reasonable this year, or your child has never been in a class this large, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.

  50. Split/Combo Grade Reality Says:

    I just read KSD’s “Class Size” information at their website. I was listed as having only 19 students for 2008-2009. This is NOT TRUE! I had 23 students for my homeroom and 27 third graders for math daily because I had to teach the third graders in the 3/4 split/combo class. Moreover, at my elementary, it’s a given that EVERY YEAR I’ve taught at this school, classes have needed to be reconfigured so the district could “stack em deep” and create splits/combo classes that increased teachers’ class sizes. Last year, we originally had a 4/5 split planned but more 5th grades kept enrolling. Our two 3rd grades had classes sizes of 27 each. Ironically, I didn’t want my principal to create a 3/4 split. Why? Because, then, I would not have to teach Science, Social Studies, Health, and Math to the third graders in the 3/4 split (this has happened several times I’ve been at this school and I’ve had to teach 28 or more 3rd graders these subjects while “officially” according to the district, I only had a homeroom of 21. Thus, I temporarily had a homeroom of 27 for about a week or two in September. Lo and behold, more 5th graders kept enrolling. You can guess what happened next – we switched to a 3/4 split. Students were shuffled around AGAIN. The only silver lining to this is that our 5th grade teachers were able to have lowered class sizes since another 5th grade teacher was added to our staff. If we can get a fair, “transparent” new contract, we wouldn’t have to put our students through this shuffling around every year…..

    • Kent HS Teacher Says:

      Thanks for this post; I didn’t even see that database earlier. Some things can definitely be misleading, particularly with the splits and combo classes. It is not uncommon in high school for teachers to have multiple-levels of students per period. For example, an introductory journalism class may only have 17 students in it, while the intermediate class has 10, and the advanced class has 8. Because they are technically courses, it can be misleading to think that those numbers are the class size. Instead, the class size is all of those numbers added together since they all meet at the same time.

      I also thought that my numbers looked a little low from what I remember, but then I realized that I had a couple of kids withdraw right before the end of the semester. I realize that they have to pick a date to do the count, but it seems somewhat misleading as those were not the numbers I had all semester.

    • Those aren't my class size numbers! Says:

      Teachers, check your class size numbers on the KSD website and report back here.

      When I went to check my numbers, four of my five class numbers were incorrect. One class says I had 27 kids when I had 33, another says I had 25 when I had 28, another says I had 28 when I had 30, and 24 when I had 27. My actual class numbers were pretty consistent throughout the year, but the more I search my class records, they were at those reported numbers at one point during the year (ie, lower at the start of the year….and then got some transfers into the class; or class numbers started higher and students dropped).

      So it is pretty clear to me that the KSD is skewing data AGAIN! This is likely why it took them so long to post these class numbers….they probably had to sort through all the class data for every teacher to find out what numbers would be the lowest so they could be at least PARTIALLY truthful.

      I enjoy the KSD’s cop out about how class sizes “are larger during the first few days of school in September, because public schools have no way of predicting exactly how many students will actually show up for the start of school. When unusually large classes occur, every effort is made to balance them promptly.” Of course, if KSD painted the whole picture and was being TRUTHFUL and….whats that word….oh yeah, TRANSPARENT…. they would explain to the community how some classes never get below 34…EVER. Or that class sizes may be reduced marginally, but not until OCTOBER….and this is when attempts are made to hire a teacher to alleviate class sizes….so essentially, the KSD waits a month or more before committing to doing something about class sizes and thus a month of instructional time is strained and less effective. Why does the KSD not say that on its website?

      Additionally, some people looking at the information might see the tiny little classrooms of 1-15 kids in a high school. Does the KSD bother to explain to the public that these kids are in some sort of blended class (core students and honor students), and therefore are reported as a separate class (and therefore be evidenced on the data chart as a tiny class)? NO….why would they? If they don’t explain it, maybe the community will not know that those are split classes and be outraged that there are classes that small..but put some of the numbers together and boom! 34 kids in a class that need to have instruction differentiated by level of rigor in ONE classroom.

      Also, the instructions on the KSD class size list tells parents to average the class sizes to get an average class load for each teacher. HELLO! They are clearly not listening to KEA, as the KEA has been bargaining for class size caps, not a reduction in the teachers’ class loads. AGAIN, KSD does not understand (likely intentionally) that the size of EACH CLASS is what affects us teachers…how much time we can spend with every student to address their learning needs.

      I know there are other teachers out there whose actual class numbers for the majority of the year do not match those of the KSD. Please make this known!

      • teacher Says:

        Where is the information posted for the class sizes? I could not find it. Also, the class sizes of 1-15 may be Special Education classes. I teach some of those small class sizes. However, 1-15 is often too many as these students are high needs students needing extra attention and care for anything from multiple impairments, medically fragile, behaviors, and skill abilities several grade levels below their peers. These students need extra TLC, time, and attention!

      • What about Special Education classrooms Says:

        The Integrated Classrooms are not even listed. The reason for this is we are not considered classroom teachers, but our case loads can range from 25 to 37 for one special education teacher. We were told that 2009/2010 school year that our case load would at the high end of the range for the year. How does this help some of the most struggling students in the the district? Yet the students are expected to meet the same standards as everyone else. It is possible if we have smaller case loads. We could spend more time with students!

        It’s time for the Kent School District to step up and take responsibility! Are you listening Dr. Vargas!

    • Kinderteach Says:

      One year, my school had a full day tuition program and one half day session. For years I had heard that the full day programs were capped at 22. Apparently that is a suggested number and not documented anywhere. The half day class ended up with 31 kids in the class. Yes, she had an aid in there, but still you couldn’t turn around without stepping on someone. My full day class had 25 kids. At 32 the district has to make a new class and split up the big one. However, we were told that if any other students registered for half day kindergarten they would be put in the full day program for half the day. Meaning, a student would come in for only half the day while the rest of his class stayed the whole day. I would have had to cram all of the curriculum into half the day so that student wouldn’t have missed anything. The point of having a full day program was so you could teach deeper and spend more time on things. Not only that, parents PAID for that option. If I were a
      parent, I would have been quite upset if I were paying $200 a month to have curriculum squeezed into the same amount of time a free half day program was.

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      I just went and looked at the database and couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked at my school and the numbers were completely inaccurate. Not only did the class sizes not match up with what we had but the NUMBERS didn’t add up. The total number of students was 532 even though our enrollment was 570 last year. How does the district get away with posting such blatantly false information and what can KEA do about it?

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      Some interesting numbers. I got the first number by adding all the classes from the KSD database together while the second number is enrollment according to OSPI.
      Millennium ES 532 570
      Carriage Crest 455 479
      Neeley O’Brien 542 709
      Meadowridge 458 469

      On top of that, they list support staff as having classes of only a few kids which makes the actual numbers look smaller. Wow, really feeling the transparency from the district right about now.

      • FWTeacher Says:

        I just checked my number from last year, and I was wrong as well. Since I started teaching 6th grade, I have always been at 27 or higher. True, I have 25 students on my roster this year, but I as I previously mentioned, KSD thinks our numbers might be “too low.”

        I also feel the need to mention that the “support” the district claimed to provide in the form of instructional aides was not very, well, supportive. The year I had 33, I recieved one hour of aide time a day. However, no one was ever hired for this position. I had a different substitute each day. Five to ten minutes of my “support time” was spent away from my students explaining what I needed done, how to correct the assignment, how to make copies, etc. I learned very quickly not to have the aide do any correcting because, more often than not, the aide had not followed my instructions and I would have to correct the papers again.

        In addition, very few of the aides were comforatable working with students, and were really only there to do things like make copies or enter data into the computer. How does this situation reduce class size? One hour of an instructional aide who can only make copies?

        Just after first trimester report cards, one of my students moved out. I now only had 32 students. In case you didn’t know, the AVERAGE number of students in a grade level has to be 33 BEFORE you get the support time. Once the one student moved out, our average was 32.5 (the other teacher still had 33) and we lost the instructional aide. The rest of the year our two classes fluxuated between 32 and 33 each, and we never saw any additional support.

        Last year, our fifth-grades started out really big, but it wasn’t until we had 36 fifth-graders in the two fifth-grade classes plus some more in a 4/5 split that the district thought we could use another 5th grade teacher.

  51. Steve Says:

    Dear Superintendent Vargas,

    I write to you as a parent of two elementary school children.

    I appreciate the automated phone call yesterday letting us know that the teachers are now on strike. I dialed the phone number you left in case we had questions.

    So I called today and talked to a young lady at the “Information Desk.” I was disappointed to find that she really didn’t seem to have that much information. I asked if you were taking phone calls and she had to put me on hold and go check. She told me you were taking email.

    Then I asked if you were taking an active role in trying to reach a settlement so we could start school as scheduled on Monday, August 31. Again, she had to put me on hold – for about five minutes – to go check. She indicated that you were getting updates from the bargaining team, but seemed to imply that you do not have an active role in the negotiations. She suggested that it would be good question to put in an email. [I should tell you I was embarrassed for her – not being able to answer what I thought were pretty simple questions]

    So, my first question to you is:

    Is the KSD bargaining team following your direction when they enter mediation sessions with an attitude that they have to “win”? Is this bargain about “winning”?? Is there any intent to settle a reasonable contract – in line with surrounding districts – or is the goal to win?? Kent is a rare district with no class size language in the contract. It’s also a rare district where there is no contract language regarding meetings. Why is that? So again, is the goal to crush the spirit of your teachers by “winning”, or make KSD a great place to work again??

    My second question:

    Is your Communications Director following your direction when she appears to be demonizing your very own teachers? Is she following your direction when she issues misleading, if not false, statements? Is it at your direction when the District sends out flyers to parents demonizing the teachers as greedy, selfish individuals? [I thought you gave a very incomplete answer to this question on Monday at the KACPTA meeting]

    Dr. Vargas, my kids have loved every minute of their educational experience in KSD. But it’s easy to see where a prolonged strike could negatively impact our remaining years in KSD.

    Many of us were excited to see new leadership come into KSD in the Spring. But to date, we have not seen or heard that leadership from you. Parents and teachers alike are eager for a fair settlement for the KSD teachers and hope that you can change the direction of the ongoing talks.

    I look forward to hearing how you intend to bring the current mediation to a successful and timely end so that our kids and teachers can begin an exciting school year.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      This is a very insightful and pertinent email. I hope when you get a response (if you get one) from Dr. Vargas, you let us know his response. Teachers are happy to see that the community also sees Becky Hanks, the KSD face (unfortunately) for what she really is and how obviously negative and degrading her remarks are towards the teachers. The way she talks really does make it seem like the KSD is only out to win, doesn’t it? You would think that a representative of the employer (KSD) would at least speak cordially of its employees (KEA members)….but have you seen this on a newscast to this date? I am not sure she is qualified to represent the district, if she is, I hope based on her performance she does not get paid more than a teacher’s average salary….if she does, she sure doesn’t deserve it, does she?

      • teachers are not the enemy Says:

        I heardBecky makes 100 Gs in her KSD role. I wonder if she remembers way back in the 80s when she was a counselor at KW and was a KEA member….hmmm….

  52. mytmel Says:

    No one is asking teachers to take a backseat. You are correct, administrators make too much. That’s not just in education – that’s everywhere. You show me a workforce where the administrators don’t make loads more money than the staff & I’ll apply there ASAP.

    I also agree that huge class size is a problem. No doubt about it, you’ve only got so many eyes and so many ears to go around.

    But your timing is both insensitive and cruel. People in Kent are struggling right now. Boeing is outsourcing, Microsoft & Starbucks downsizing, layoffs abound. Pay cuts, layoffs adjustable mortgage and foreclosures are having their way with us. This isn’t Bellevue, folks – if we could afford to live there – we would.

    You aren’t sending a message to the district bigwigs. You aren’t costing them a thing in the end. They’ll sleep the sleep of the wealthy tonight. The people you are harming are the ones who can’t fight back. Do you know who’s losing sleep? Every single parent in your district with no backup childcare plans & an empty summer daycare budget. Every senior who has plans after graduation. Every family that’s already trying so hard just to put food on the table with no raises – as you tell them that 4% just won’t cut it.

    What do you say to the single parent of two who’ll have to spend her meager Christmas savings to cover the extra month of full-day childcare that she didn’t expect? “Too bad, we’re not your daycare?” Thankfully, that’s not me anymore – but it was in Marysville a few years back. Do you know what it taught me? Take my tax dollars the heck out of Marysville. Vote NO on every single bond and levy that comes up with any hint of education or school in it.

    What do you say to the parents that could neither support nor debate with you today because they have no choice but to go to work each and every day during the hours that you’re free to picket? Make no mistake, your support sampling were the privileged few. The rest of us were already in transit before you started, and hadn’t headed back until after you were through.

    Essentially, the people you are most harming with this are unable to speak out during any of the times you’re available or willing to hear them. They’re fighting to keep their homes, cars, families, food each and every day. So that the government can yank a third out of it to pay folks like…well…you.

    So this Christmastime, when the kids from the single-parent homes come back from break with their said faces & two meager gifts, be sure an explain to them that it was all for their betterment, okay? Because that’ll make it true.

    Finally, please don’t compare yourself with doctors, lawyers & the like in your professionalism. They don’t strike. They don’t claim to be professionals and then fall back on the bullying tactics of LABOR UNIONS. Pick one please. Even we lowly taxpayers can see the folly in that one.

    • Bellevue Teacher Says:

      mytmel –

      What is the answer, then? KEA listed its concerns long ago and has chosen to go on strike several days before the start of school to give KSD every opportunity to meet classrom needs. The class sizes KEA has mentioned publically are large enough to harm student learning. Sometimes, it is best to delay the start of the school day for a few days than to make the children suffer for the entire year or longer with unacceptable learning conditions.

      I struck last year because I was told to read my lessons from a verbatim script and could not look at the wonderful children as individual learners in my classroom. I do not deny that being on strike harmed the community and was difficult for many families. How much more harm, however, would have been done if we had accepted BSD’s demand that would have led to poor teaching? District administrators are generally very intelligent people and have the best interests of kids in mind. However, sometimes they are just plain wrong. When the issue is serious, teachers are professionally and morally obligated to stand up and say “NO!” Some would call teachers to bargain on and go to school. “Get real,” I would tell them. They have been bargaining for months and KSD has refused to change its stand. Bargaining longer will yield no results.

      Teachers do not strike lightly. Sometimes it seems like teachers strike every year. However, remember that there are 295 individual districts in Washington. Over the last thirty years, we have averaged just less than one strike a year. In other words, the average teacher strikes about once every 300 years. Last year, Bellevue was the only strike in the nation. When teachers walk out, the vast majority of the believe that the district’s proposals are harmful and that there is no other recourse. If you trust the teachers to teach your children, demand that KSD fix the problem.

      KEA has stated that first grade classes are reaching 31 students. KSD has not countered this. No teacher is going to be successful teaching 31 six and seven year olds to read. If KSD knows that class sizes are this big, it is their moral and ethical obligation to fix it – even if they have to reprioritize money that has been “earmarked” for “other” things. I don’t care how “wonderful” their “other” programs are if the trade-off is that first graders will no longer be learning how to read.

      • mytmel Says:

        Bellevue Teacher,

        I don’t know. That’s the mess of it. I wish I had something useful to offer in terms of a solution. I have had to deal with the administration before, and I agree with your assessment that they are overpaid windbags who are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

        If I were somehow magically crowned Queen of The World tomorrow, I’d fire the lot of them & break the schools down into community units with a proven business leader and an elected teacher (elected by the teachers) running the deal in a democratic fashion. If course, in this imaginary world of mine I’d really weigh what my Driver’s License says and would have no varicose veins – so I recognize the silliness.

        I absolutely do support your need for lower class sizes. But I don’t see how that’s going to happen with things as they are. It all boils down to the dollars – and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of those available. Should they free up some funds? Yes. In my opinion they should dump a lot of the useless and ineffective programs and practices, but my opinion and $4 will get you a latte.

        I got pretty irked last year when they laid out the proposed cuts they considered to lower costs. I didn’t even know we had some sort of tutoring system for kids that were suspended. That seems really wasteful & unfair to the students that DO show up to school and want to learn. Couldn’t that money be put to better use hiring an additional teacher for those kids that are suiting up and showing up every day? I hate how “No Child Left Behind” ties your hands in terms of failing students. What motivation is there for kids to perform well then – if they know they’ll advance a grade no matter what. How much time do you have to spend on kids who don’t want it? Again, wasteful in my opinion.

        I don’t like the IEP/504 system one teeny tiny little bit. There have been a few great people I dealt with when my younger son was in the public school – but even they had to jump through so many hoops to be able, in the end, to do very little for my son because of all of the red tape, BS inflexible curricula & having too many chefs in the kitchen. As for the IEP’s themselves? Holy Incomprehensible Batman! I don’t need 25 pages of percentiles, boxes, and edu-lingo to tell me my son can’t write in full sentences. I don’t want to hear about how much progress he’s made on is interpretive what-the-heck-ever and what percentage he falls into among other IEP students. I want to know how to help my kid function with the basics. Honestly, I think they should trash the current system – that’s too much of a burden on all of the players, and go back to non-integration of special ed students. I’m sure the original intent of integration was well-meaning, but the kids all know which kids are “tardos” and they’re every bit as ostracized as in the old system. Why not free up the entire team & set aside a school for IEP kids? Keep the IEP pros in one place so they don’t have to play musical schools – and let the regular teachers do their regular work with their regular students.

        Again, I don’t have the magical answers. I obviously won’t be crowned queen anytime soon. I do feel for some of the struggles you are having – especially those that I’ve had to try to work through – like ice skating uphill. I don’t think, however, that the strike is going to really solve any of that. If you said “keep your 4% & hire more teachers with it” I think a lot more parents would be on your side. Then it would be a lot more clear that class sizes & the like were the big deal. But demanding 10% more over the next two years just comes across as outrageous & it’s hard to swallow the idea that kids are the real issue when such a huge sum of money is being tossed around. Surely you can see that?

        To Steve, yes – I have emailed KSD. I’ve also sent my thoughts to my local legislators, the Gov. herself, WA superintendent of schools. I trust that they’ll all be ignored in the order they were received. You are correct, I’m not a big union fan. I think the Union is going to drive Boeing the rest of the way out of town, which will further impact our area’s economy. I think most unions are no different than most administrations in that the top bodies make insane amounts of money and really have their own pocketbooks in mind when they do these things. I think seniority, in a non-labor profession, is an awful way to decide who stays and goes. I’d like to see the best people for the job on the job. Not just the oldest. But I can accept that I disagree with others on that point – such is life.

        Working Hard, you are not my daycare. My kids are grown past the point of needing it. My sentiment was for the folks whose kids aren’t. Marysville’s 2-month strike nearly wiped me out financially. Not because I thought they were my daycare, but because I’d worked my meager budget around a certain amount of time will full-day care & those funds were gone. I don’t have to worry about that anymore, but my heart goes out to those that do.

        Yes, a lot of parents use you as daycare. Along with the TV, video games, and a host of other things that they should be replacing with their own attentions. But neither you nor I can fix that. I don’t need to spend a week with you – I already know I’d make a lousy teacher because I generally don’t like other people’s kids. Forget the admin part – it’s already a no-go for me before we even get to the red-tape. I tip my hat to those that can do it – I’m not one of them.

        BTW, my solution – my personal solution – to the overcrowding & lousy IEP system? We downsized our own life & put our special needs guy in a private school. The three years of wasted IEP time and pounds upon pounds of paperwork to tell me he was making so much progress (that he wasn’t) on his oddball lattice math – that time was trumped by one Saturday session with his private school math teacher. He told me that my boy was perfectly capable, he just overcomplicated some of the steps and couldn’t quite get the rhythm of the equations. He showed me some helpful ways to steer him back on track when he started to overthink it, and worked with him a few extra minutes a day. By the end of his 7th grade year, his sentences were complete & correct, his verbal communication skills were approaching “normal” and he was fully integrated into his 93 student middle school. That was my solution.

        If you’re truly set on smaller class sizes, then push for smaller charter schools. Or go work at a private one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any other way around that.

        Brandy, I’d say she might consider an apartment and a different source of income if it’s that bad. That’s not just teachers though – I’d suggest that to anyone who was that hard up. I don’t think it’s a reality that teachers are living in cars. I do think a lot of parents will go under if they have to fork up too much extra in daycare. The ones I’ve talked to, in that situation, I’ve pointed in the direction of the private school system we’re in. It’s both less expensive than daycare and more helpful in the end to the children. See? Smaller class-sizes already!

    • Steve Says:

      This is a great rant – until the standard pro-big business gripe against labor unions.

      I trust you are directing similar anger at the KSD, Dr. Vargas, and the KSD bargaining team, too, right? Be sure they know how hard this is on you, too.

      I’ve made my phone calls, written my letters, and attended my community meetings. Have you?

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      So explain to me why your tax dollars pay me, and taxes are taken from my pay check as well. Where is my tax money going?

      The heartache of this strike is not lost on Kent Teachers. Come spend a week with us – we are your daycare. Maybe you will find new ways to solve old problems.

    • Brandy Says:

      The district has plenty of time to fix this before school starts. The ball is in their court. THEY can end this as soon as they choose to. Why are you blaming us? We have given them months to work this out and we still gave them more time so that school could start on time. To me it seems that the district is the one causing all the heartache and holding people “hostage” at this point.

      What will you say to the teacher who loses her house, lives in her car with her 3 children, sends her children to the free lunch programs and can’t even fit the christmas tree into the car?

      • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

        It is very important that the community be clear on this: KSD has NOT negotiated in good faith. They have not agreed to schedule as many meetings as KEA wanted. These negotiations STARTED in the SPRING. But KSD dragged their feet in the power-hungry, infantile manner that they always do and took many actions that obvertly sent the message that they believed the teachers’ union was weak and would not strike. THAT is why negotiations were not wrapped up in the spring or summer, when they could/should have been. KEA has made this clear, made themselves available for negotatiation at any time, and yet the district still drags their feet to this day. Perhaps if KSD took KEA more seriously (which they should considering the 86.4% YES strike vote), and be TRUTHfully transparent and equitable, the teachers would have a fair contract in fron to of them.

        KSD waited too long, treated their teachers in a demeaning and disrespectful manner, and forced teachers to take the stand that they are right now.

      • Kent HS Teacher Says:

        Boxes and Tape points out that these negotiations started in spring, but the issues of time and workload were brought up in our contract re-opener LAST YEAR! We attempted to negotiate solutions to these problems starting in the spring of 2008 and continuning on to now. This is nothing new, and teachers have done all they could short of a strike. We don’t want to do this, but we feel that we were forced to by the district who refused to even discuss our issues or take us seriously.

        By the way, many of us also have spouses who are out of work, have been out of work, or are facing future lay-offs. We understand the financial pressures and we are sorry. Many of us will struggle to pay for daycare that we will need so that we can walk the picket lines while we are not getting paid. Many of us are having a hard time making our car payments and house payments (those of us lucky enough to have houses). We get it. But just as we will not allow excuses for failure in our classrooms, we will not allow excuses in this situation either. We must do what is right even when it is not easy. And this fight is about what is right for children for years to come, not just next month.

  53. Bellevue Teacher Says:

    Kent Teachers,

    Stay strong. This strike WILL end. However, please realize that you have taken a big step by going on strike and there is no turning back. If you do so before KSD has a palatable offer on the table, your bargain the next time around will be even more difficult. Only you know what your needs are, only you know what really happens in your classrooms. It is not my place, an administrator’s place or the community’s place to tell you what your needs are. If you stay together and on-message, KSD will meet your needs. You may not get everything you want, but needs can be met.

    Trust your WEA leadership. You have some of the same folks joining you that were with us last year. They may not know the culture of KSD, but they do know labor negotiations and strike organization. They will put you in a position to make your message heard. They will make sure that KSD knows who you are and what you want. They do know that KSD can and cannot afford.

    I was on strike for two weeks last year and I won’t pretend that it was fun. I went to school to teach children, not wave a picket sign. However, I believed in our cause and I know that it would be worse for the kids to suffer under the conditions that BSD was demanding than to delay the start of the school year for a short while. Why did it take so long for the BSD to listen? I don’t know, but, eventually, they did. Literally, they did not move one inch until we had missed eight or nine school days. Stay strong and KSD will come around, too.

    • GNN Says:

      Thank you Bellevue Teacher. I appreciate your support and encouragement. It is hard to read (and hear) the negative and sometimes downright mean things people write. Many of them just don’t know the facts, others don’t care, they just want to lash out. So a positive voice from someone who has “been there” is a breath of fresh air.

  54. Len Dawson Says:

    I’ve been in the middle the whole time on this whole contract issue. I think all sides have had valid points and reasonable ideas (and all sides have had less than valid points and less than reasonable ideas, too). But I have to respond to the idea that parents are upset at teachers because the strike forces them to have extra day care.

    One, school is not day care. If you are only viewing public education as free day care for your kids, then you clearly don’t care enough about education or your kids.
    Two, if you choose to see school as free day care for 180 days of the year, fear not – after the strike is wrapped up we will still work for 180 days. Consider these first days as just a shift from the day care days you apparently were going to pay for in the summer.
    Three, be thankful that you know the odds are that when you are not inconvienced by this strike anymore, your child will be in a class where odds are the teacher voted for this and was willing to sacrifice and risk to get them a better learning environment – whether you wanted it or not.

    • Concerned in Kent Says:


      How dare you think that as an instructor you have the right or the power to disrespect parents, your employers, or for that matter to hold us hostage with your threat of school into the summer. Teachers with your attitude should be shown the door. Those high paid administraters that your union keeps speaking of are instructors that should be in the classroom teaching. Your union is not about teaching children. It is about increasing its size, drawing in more money and increasing its ability to support politicians who will in turn support them. The unbroken circle of influence, power and money. Know this sir, I am not inconvenienced by your strike. However, I am concerned that you and your fellow instructors feel that you are “above the law”. It is illegal in this state for teachers to strike. If my student struck, that is, refused to do homework or classwork, you would impose a consequence. I ask you sir, what will the consequence of your illegal action be?

      • Too bad.... Says:

        You are so wrong, but cannot see it. You have applied the stigma about unions to teachers’ unions. So sad. Disrespect you? How about you disrespecting teachers? In some countries, the parents and families honor teachers and appreciate their hard work. If you have had a bad experience in your lifetime with a teacher or two, don’t take it out on the rest of us.

        We are overworked and underpaid. Unless you are a teacher, you will never know what I am truly talking about. Your criticism has no basis because of your frame of reference.

        Also, do your homework. In THIS state, it is NOT illegal for teachers to strike. We are not under the same laws as police officers and firefighters are. READ the entire law, not just parts of it.

      • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

        Your child’s right to strike would be nothing new. We see it everyday. And the consequences have done nothing to turn a few of them (children) around. Maybe a few more parents backing up teachers who say “walk this way” would help the striking child. Is it illegal to demand better educational surroundings and individual help for K-12 students? Sounds like that’s what the teachers are asking for.

    • mytmel Says:

      Wow. I hope you’re not wondering why people take offense to your attitude. Did I not already say that I didn’t view the school as a daycare? Did I not clarify that my kids ARE too old for daycare now? That my sympathies merely went out to those who’re struggling now because of it?

      But since you’re able to sit upon high and lecture, please allow me to give you a reality check. When Marysville went on strike, I was a single mother of two elementary school kids. I took home approximately 1800 a month. the first 1000 was rent – right off the top. During the regular school year, I paid $100 a week for before/after care for my kids.

      That’s 14 of the 18 gone already – with me? With the remaining $400 I had to cover water/sewer/garbage/phone/power & food. Then – if I got a bonus or overtime it went directly into my summer care fund. Otherwise I had to try to tuck $50 a month away for the summertime when full time care was needed.

      At no point did I think “Golly gee, it’s sure great that I have this public daycare.” I sent my kids to school for education. But if I’d know I would’ve had to save for an extra 6 weeks of full-time care, I could’ve done my best to make that happen. I did not happen to have the extra $2,400 it cost for two kids for those two months. I had to cancel all doctor’s appointments, buy no medications, I had my phone shut off (landline, not cell 0 I couldn’t afford a cell during those years to have shut off) and I still ended up so far behind that it took me an entire year to get back on my feet.

      While the schools are not public daycare, they do still have some responsibility to the folks that reasonably expect them to be open. Just because I say my heart goes out to those that are struggling you jump all over me & start flappity-flappin’ the party line about “we are not your daycare.” Uh, thanks Captain Obvious, good thing I didn’t already come right out and say that.

      If you cannot at least admit that this strike has the potential to cripple some of the single parent homes in the area, that were not prepared to extend their full-time financial output, then perhaps you should consider taking both some sensitivity and logical reasoning courses as part of your continuing education.

      “Consider these first days as just a shift from the day care days you apparently were going to pay for in the summer.” Yeah? So if your car is totaled right after you pay your taxes & are flat broke, will it comfort you to hear “hey, consider your deductible just a cost of maintenance that you would’ve had to pay anyway”? Not if you don’t have the deductible money available – right?

  55. Karen Says:

    Class sizes are left to chance. If KSD was concerned about class size and the quality education of students there would be a solution for those classes that exceed the cap. If the lid at K-3 was 23 for example, all classes that are at 24 or over would have some assistance. Last school year Emerald Park was re allocated it’s number of certificated staff, when we were slightly under projections for total students and another school was experiencing an influx of students due to AYP parent choice moves. We moved from 4 teachers and classes of 20 in first grade to 3 teachers and classes of 27 and 28. All 3 classes sat at 27 for the entire year. Close by, the numbers in another KSD first grade classrooms were as low as 18. A solution, might have been an instructional asstant at the very least. Having a plan that shows a committment to class size when it exceeds the limit is needed. Yes, these solutions, cost money. I think the students are worth it.

  56. Teacher Says:

    I am sorry that you were unable to make it to one of the many parent information meetings that were being held around the school district prior to our strike vote. The meetings were organized by teachers to give parents an opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions and concerns. Many were held after work hours. In fact, I was disappointed that there weren’t any non-supporters at our meeting. The non-supporters were the parents that we were trying to reach out to.

    It is unfortunate you and many other parents missed those opportunities to debate with your teachers when you had the chance. It is unfortunate that meetings may have been held when you couldn’t attend. But like doctors and lawyers, we can’t tailor our hours to meet the demands of everyone. I know that if I have a health issue that needs attention, I make the time to see the doctor. Heck, if I am in desperate need of a haircut, I make the time to see my hair stylist. If your child’s education/daycare was a real priority you could have found the time to attend one of our community meetings. They were open to all citizens, not just parents.

    • mytmel Says:

      Teacher, I never knew any such meetings existed. No one told me and I didn’t have the time to go hunting for meetings that I had no idea were either requested nor helpful. I have no idea how you reached out to supporters &/or non-supporters, but nothing came to my attention. Odd though, the the meetings for my child that is in the public school come with both mailed & email invites. Perhaps yours was lost in the mail? With all those checks?

      I appreciate, however, the implication that I don’t put my child’s education as a priority. Is this how you communication with all of your student’s parents? If so, I hope you get the reduced class size you really need – from 30 to 2.

      • mytmel Says:

        “public school” should have said “private school.”

      • j-dog1 Says:

        mytmel –

        Unfortunately we as educators do not have a database for a parent mailing address. Some of us (not all) were asked to e-mail any parents we knew from our private e-mail accounts to give out the information on the meetings. We do not have the abililty to send a letter out to each and every parent in Kent like the district did. We wish we could have, but we do not have a parent mailing address without using the district database or hard copy that resides in the office filing cabinet.

        All of us wanted to get the word out to all parents, but we just couldn’t. Of course these negotiations have been going on all of last school year and many concerned parents have talked to many of us about our concerns and wanted to know what they could do to help. Many of these parents also showed up the the board meetings last year where there was often standing room only because of the great interest in the problems in the district.

      • Brandy Says:

        you are right, teachers being in that position may not be happening. I was trying to make the point that we as teachers struggle as much as others in the community do. We have single parents trying to raise their kids and live from pay check to pay check. We do have teacher’s that qualify for food stamps and reduced lunch programs. I was in no way trying to minimize the hardships of others in the community. I have friends and family members that lost their jobs last year so I know how hard it is.

        I didn’t make my point in a very good way and I apologize for that.

  57. parent Says:

    I am a very concerned parent who is sad that this strike has to happen but hoping some real change can come about with it.
    I am curious what has been happening with negotiations for the past 2 days since the strike vote happened. I know that the district put a proposal on the table. Are you working with them on changes or just waiting to vote on Sunday with no work happening up until then?

    I am also a bit concerned by the picketing times. Wouldn’t it be benefitial to have shifts picketing during peak drive times and through the weekend? It would seem if you are only willing to picket during school hours you may not be as committed as you truely are. To do this right you have to be willing to go above and beyond to get the full word out. You are missing a large segment of the population so far.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Bargaining has been ongoing. KEA brought a proposal related to limiting meetings on Thursday. Our offer basically said that teachers would be subject to two meetings of not more than an hour per month. It also made allowances for meetings that are required by law for such issues as Special Education students’ evaluations. Bear in mind that if KSD accepted this offer, KEA members would be attending these meetings outside of their paid work day. KEA felt this was a fair compromise. The District’s counter-proposal was to have two 50 minute meetings per week, but they did not want any language as to what these meetings could be about. When pressed on the issue, it became clear that the District’s proposal was written with loopholes that meant that all the current types of meetings that are held in buildings would still be held in addition to the two new meetings per week they offered. When KEA rejected this proposal, the KSD negotiators stormed out of the room.

      Bargaining will continue until this is resolved. As for picketing times, the KEA Strike Coordinators will be changing the times and locations of picketing as necessary. We have been picketing during our normal work hours so far, but we will also be holding other shows of strength at other times and locations as time goes on. Thanks for the suggestions!

  58. firstgradeteacher Says:

    I checked my class size on the district data base and was shocked to see 21. I’ve never had 21 first graders in my career! I had 24 report cards to do every trimester last year. The years before that were class of between 24-28. Of the 24 students that I had last year, 10 were ELL and 1 was SpEd (that came to me not fully potty-trained).The previous year I had 29 first grade report cards to do. I asked my daughter, a student at KW, about the numbers in her class and she indicated that she had over 30 kids in each of her English, Science and Social Studies core classes ( not matching what was posted in the districts numbers). I’d like Dr. Vargas (or any of the KSD administrators) to come in and teach in my room for a full-day with my kids ( and make sure that they are teaching to the standards and GLE’s with the curriculum that we are provided), especially on one of my non-planning days,with a before school 50 minute meeting, and an assembly that takes away my afternoon recess break.

  59. Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

    AH! The KSD put the latest proposal for limiting middle school meetings. Oh wait, why is it called a “Letter of Agreement”? Should it not be an actual change in the contract language? Could that be perhaps yet another way around the contract so next year when there is another bargain reopener they can throw this letter in the recycling bin and say they’re going back to their archaic ways? Don’t be fooled, if this is not in your contract (like you see the changes the KSD made in the other document they posted), you will likely see it changed again next year (or replaced with some other loop-hole ridden ingenuous “promise” from the KSD. Stand the line…get it in real contract language!

    KSD, why do you continue to play these games? Bargain in good faith like you claim you do!

  60. KWest Says:

    Side-note of concern:
    My union rep recently told me that there is a planned candle-light vigil for Sunday night should the union have no contract by that time. While I am completely behind the demonstrations of the union up until this time, I am hoping that this one can be adjusted.
    Admittedly, vigils are powerful symbols of the human spirit, however, vigils are traditionally held in memory of the dead or as demonstration against acts of violence. The last time I lit a candle in the presence of other teachers, it was an act of mourning of the passing of one of my favorite students.
    I am planning to attend Sunday, but I am hoping that we might choose a different type of demonstration, please.

    • ksdteachermom Says:

      Thank you KWest for your comment. I completely agree with you and I had the same reaction to the idea of a Sunday “vigil”. Words do matter and a different title and different type of demonstration would be much more appropriate.

    • Got Boxes? Says:

      Please KEA!!! I had the EXACT same reaction to the vigil.

      Will you PLEASE change the format?

      Thank you!

    • Kent Teacher Says:

      I completely agree with you. I have been out on the front lines thus far but I will not be out there for a memorial vigil for teachers. A candlelight protest is not appropriate for our concerns. It is an insulting way for our voices to be heard. We have other means of sharing our opinions. Lets save candlelight vigils for matters of life and death. I don’t believe finding a contract that we can agree on falls under those categories.

      • kentteacher Says:

        Kent Teacher wrote above:
        “I have been out on the front lines thus far but I will not be out there for a memorial vigil for teachers.”

        I did not take this meaning from the vigil planned. I wondered a little about the vigil idea. However, I do think that it is sad, and even as serious as life and death for our students and their futures that KSD cannot take our concerns seriously. Time, compensation, and workload all affect students. I am “mourning” for the students.

    • kteach Says:

      I am also not a fan of using the language of a “candle-light vigil.” Maybe another rally, but “vigil” may not have quite the right connotations.

    • KSD Student Says:

      I see a vigil as completely appropriate. There is a profound difference between a “candlelight vigil”, and a “candlelight memorial”, which is what you are thinking of. The idea behind a vigil is to come together in honor of a group of people who have suffered, and to protest against this suffering. That’s exactly what we want to do!

      Please don’t let misconceptions regarding the term or it’s inaccurate connotations keep you from supporting Kent students and educators in this peaceful manner!

  61. bigmike34 Says:


    The 16% unemployment rate is the unemployment rate that is published plus those who are no longer looking for jobs…and the figure I quoted is indeed the national rate. However since the national rate is lower then Washington’s it is probably a little lower then our actual rate is…

    You say you don’t know what difference it makes that we have very high unemployment and huge numbers of foreclosures since School funding comes from property taxes..

    1) If a home is foreclosed on there is not property tax being paid…

    2) If someone is unemployed …that person can’t Pay property taxes…

    3) Does the state contribute to funding of our schools?..or does it all come from the district tax collections…I know the answer. You don’t appear to…

    Finally no one is expecting teachers to take a back seat…but during this economic disaster….I don’t expect someone who is making approx $50,000 a year and only pays 650 a month for quality health care for a family of 4 ….and is likely married to another teacher who also makes approx $50,000 a year…and is in a profession where he/she gets 2and 1/2 months off in the summer to earn additional income if he/she wants and gets every Holiday ever invented plus 2 weeks off for Christmas……I don’t expect that person to STRIKE ….and create even more hardship for the citizens that pay his salary..

    • coopersmom Says:

      I agree 100% with Big Mike 34!
      Gov. Gregoire took the money from KSD. Who supported her run for Governor? KEA and WEA, so how is that working out for them?
      No one is forced to become a teacher or stay in the profession if they feel they aren’t paid well enough.
      For those of us who work in other professions to hear complaints about missing “recess breaks” and having to attend meetings seems extremely petty.
      About class size, my 10th grader at KW last year was in an Honors core group with large class sizes. His entire schedule was changed after a month into school so he could have smaller classes. What did he end up with? Teachers that were not qualified to teach Honors and a waste of a semester. So my point is smaller classes do not always mean more learning. In our case it was the opposite.

      • Got Boxes? Says:


        So you’re saying that if this job doesn’t pay me well enough and if I don’t get the conditions I need to do the job well, I should look for a job elsewhere? (Nevermind that it’s my dream job and I will NEVER leave it if I can help it.)

        With the stats your buddy bigmike gave on unemployment, etc., where would you recommend I do that at this time?

        Please understand that what we are fighting for right now is to PREVENT EXACTLY the situation your 10th grader was in last year. If the district had capped class sizes correctly, they would have known earlier in the school year that another honors teacher was needed, and then they could have hired someone who was more qualified to teach your child. Instead, I’m guessing they waited until the end of September/early October, to hire someone who then had to hurry up and learn the curriculum, then on top of it, had to learn how to be an honors teacher!

        I know this may seem like an easy task to someone who is not a teacher.

      • Dedicated and Tired Says:

        For those who work in other professions who are are upset about hearing teachers complain about missing “recess breaks,” do you realize that “recess break” might be the only 10-15 minutes in a four hour period we have to use the bathroom? I have to adjust my water intake down during a work day in order to sustain comfort because I am not able to leave my classroom when I have even one student present.

        Along with basic human needs, we are nearly always using that time to help students, run copies and track down resources that we had no time to to do before or after school because of meetings? That “recess” time is also often spent scrambling to talk with a specialist or counselor about an individual student’s needs? Explain to me how that complaint is “petty.”

    • Got Boxes? Says:

      bigmike34, I think you’re ACTUALLY replying to Kent Taxpayer.

      I’m actually working half time so I really make $25K per year. So that insurance payment really takes a chunk out. And the only reason I can afford to do that is because my husband is NOT a teacher.

      I chose to be a teacher because I love children and I want to make an impact in their lives, as they do in mine.

      Yes, I knew the money wasn’t good when I chose this profession but that doesn’t mean I thought it was right. And that doesn’t mean that it’s ok for a district to make my job more difficult by taking away my time so that I could be be prepared and be a great teacher. And it’s not ok to make my caseload/class size so unmanageable that I can’t meet individual children’s needs.

      I noticed that someone else made this point and I’m going to reiterate, teachers do NOT get paid when there is no school. Our vacation time is UNPAID! The classes that we take to improve ourselves as teachers are UNPAID! For those of us who need more money than what our paychecks provide, we ARE working 2nd/3rd jobs during the 2 months off over the summer.

  62. silence do good Says:

    As I read the issues that were touched on, the teachers do have valid reasons for expressing their concerns in this manner (strike). The parents and community at large must understand that the district may have hoodwinked them, by doing such things as misappropriating public (tax payer) funds in that the umbrella funds they receive are not equitably distributed. If they were, it may be safe to assume that students would have desks. Also, providing other than truthful information may indicate that they are hiding something far bigger than this strike. Perhaps it is time the board members seek other employment.

    • teacher Says:

      silence do good: I agree. I just looked at the class size numbers for last year that the district has posted. They are TOTALLY INACCURATE! Not only were ALL of my posted class size numbers lower than what I actually had, but my largest class size was not even included on the list! My students in that class had standing room only for the ENTIRE YEAR despite my repeated attempts/requests to get more desks!

  63. Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

    To access the data, go to:

  64. ksdmom Says:

    I wonder why there is so much concern about KSD class size when the numbers that are stated, as being an issue, are nowhere near the class size of well educated countries such as Japan, and other Asian countries, where class sizes are around 40.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      I would rather work with 40 Japanese children than 40 American children any day. I worked with a Japanese-American church in Oregon for 9 years. Those children and the people from that culture were the most self-disciplined, respectful, and generous people I have ever had the pleasure to spend time with. They treated me like a princess when I worked with their children. By the way, the parents were all actively involved with their children and set a very high standard for them. Misbehavior brought shame to the family, and on the rare occasions when there was a behavior issue, not only did the parents require that the child face me directly and apologize, but I almost always received apologies from them and the grandparents as well. The child was expected to provide restitution in some way, usually by coming in early to help me set up or staying late to help me put things away.

      Come take my place for five minutes in my middle school classroom here in Kent and then try to tell me that I should be able to teach 40 kids effectively. Forget about teaching them anything. Let’s just see you try to manage their behavior for those five minutes.

      • ksdmom Says:

        One of my kids is in middle school in KSD and all I hear is that my child is the best behaved and they had a 4.0 last year. I’m an actively involved parent in both elementary and middle school. I’ve had conferences with educators at the middle school and at the elementary school that my children go to and nobody has ever indicated they are overwhelmed by the class size.

        If we weren’t a family that respected teachers, I could buy the argument but my children excel and we respect teachers, even those we don’t like, we’re very careful to support our children when the teacher is difficult or unlikable, while reinforcing that you have to respect them and do your best. They will also have bosses and co-workers they don’t like in life.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      The difference is respect.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      I’m so glad that you expect your kids to be respectful. I know that the teachers appreciate that support. I want to respond to a couple of things you’ve said in this post. First, I most likely would not whine or complain to a parent about my class size in a conference with them. It’s not something the parents can do a lot about, and it’s a waste of the limited time I spend talking with that parent. I focus on what I can do for that parent’s child. Second, I teach at Meeker. I can promise you that I have parents who have NEVER had a conversation with their child about being respectful to adults. It makes the job really tough when I call a parent about a child’s behavior and the parent doesn’t back me up. Put 40 kids in a room, with about 8-10 of those kinds of kids, and you have an unworkable situation for the really good kids who deserve to get their teacher’s attention, but don’t because the teacher is putting out fires elsewhere. I could probably work well with 32 kids like yours, though.

  65. rupert Says:

    For Big Mike and coopersmom:
    Although I understand your positions, there are quite a few assumptions made.

    Teachers are paid for 180+ days of work, nothing more. So the 2 week Christmas “vacation”? We don’t get paid for that. Spring and Winter Break? We don’t get paid for those days, either. Other holidays like MLK? We don’t get paid for ANY holidays. Our pay is prorated throughout the 12 month calendar year–people think we get paid for a free summer off but the reality is it is simply our prorated 180 day contract.

    A teacher makes $50,000 a year? Only if they can afford to pay for their Master’s Degree out of their own pocket. I have worked in the Kent School District for 8 years now and–as a single parent–cannot afford to get my Masters to climb the pay scale. My pay comes NOTHING close to $50 grand.

    No teacher has 2 1/2 months “off” in the summer. Many teachers are taking classes and attending educational conferences (on our own dime). . .or attending district-mandated trainings. And for those of us who are struggling financially, yes, we do take 2nd and 3rd jobs during the summer to make ends meet–that just proves how low our pay really is!

    Although missing “recess breaks” may seem trivial, what needs to be understood here is that we teachers are CONSTANTLY prepping for the upcoming lessons during the day. For some groups of teachers–like elementary–they have to do a lot of physical work getting things out, putting things away, organizing, reorganizing, etc. This takes time! And if the only time they have is a 15 minute recess break, they need it! A good teacher knows that you can’t waste class time getting out materials while students are present–you’ve got to be ready the minute students walk in the door.

    I’m sorry to hear about your 10th grader being switched into different classes and having a bad experience–this happens far too often and disrupts the learning process. We teachers know this and don’t like it.There were many teachers shuffled around to different schools last year–none of it by choice. Again, this is a district issue that proves the point that district administration needs to be more proactive about staffing needs and class sizes.

    • Julie Says:

      And sometimes that 15-minute recess break is the only chance we get to go to the bathroom. We can’t just leave a class of students for that…

  66. following your example Says:

    I think I will encourage my friends to follow your example. Students have long felt that they have too large a work load, and not enough respect from our teachers and administrators. We don’t like some of the curriculum, nor the high-stakes testing. It is time WE STRIKE!!!! Once school finally starts, I think every student should walk out of the classroom and head straight for the picket signs.

  67. Therapist in the KEA Says:

    I’ve heard a lot about classroom size on this blog, but others of us who are members of KEA don’t have classrooms – we have caseloads. This includes Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, School Psychologists, Counselors, Nurses, and Social Workers. Nearby districts have caps on how many students we are to provide services for – for example, I know that Federal Way has caseload caps for therapists of 35 students. Last school year I had over 50 students in 3 buildings I was responsible for providing therapy treatment. This means I have 50 INDIVIDUAL weekly treatment plans to pull together, 50 INDIVIDUAL annual treatment plans to prepare, 50 IEPs to write, at least 50 IEP meetings to attend (depending on how often the team needs to meet), not to mention collaborate with each student’s primary teacher, collaborate with the other services that the student may be receiving, find time to communicate with parents regarding student progress, find time to communicate and coordinate with outside services, just to name a few tasks. And this is on top of providing an average of 30-45 minute treatment sessions once a week for 50 students during the 24 hours those students are actually available to be pulled for services during the school day. Those of us who are special education specialists only work with children with special needs and usually have very significantly impacted kids that we’re working with to help them access their education – this takes signficantly more time than working with an average student.

    I actually felt lucky at one point last year – my caseload was 50 but I knew of therapists who had 75-90 students who they were responsible for!! The primary reason for high caseloads? The district can’t seem to figure out how to recruit staff who are in highly sought after fields and actually staff the respective departments. It’s a very sad state of affairs that if I decided to be “money hungry” I could earn 3x as much in a nursing home but because I choose to work with students in a school system my children will qualify for free and reduced lunches this year and I may qualify for child care assistance to boot.

    Caseload caps are vital for nurses, counselors, and school psychologists as well – it’s a matter of not having enough time to get done what needs to be done. There are only so many minutes in a school day while the students are in a building to be able to provide the services that we’re legally required to provide.

    On a final note, my son attends a Kent School District school. I am not unlike many many people in the KEA – I’m also a local taxpayer who is a parent and who has a right to have a voice in how my tax dollars are spent in the school district. My son has been attended schools in other school districts in WA state before moving to Kent and I have been appalled at the lack of respect shown towards parents from the district administration, appalled at the lack of resources directed towards the classrooms, and appalled at the lack of time and the size of the classrooms (he went from a class of 18 to a class of 29). I noticed that his class for last year was listed at 21 students when I know that there were 29 in the classroom for most of the school year. KSD needs to put kids first and reallocate funds away from central admin offices and back into the buildings where it needs to be. I for one am livid that our new superintendent makes a quarter of a million dollars when we live in a district that has a higher than average poverty rate (41.9% of our students qualify for free/reduced lunches above state average).

    • concerned parent Says:

      Thank you, Therapist! KSD and the school board appear to have little respect for parents. The only time I’ve gotten the help I’ve needed from the administration is when I’ve driven to the district HQ in person. That’s nuts. KSD and the board appear to think that leadership means doing whatever they want and either spinning the facts to suit them or simply not sharing information at all. Where does this attitude come from?

      I get that money is tight, but do we really need to pay our superintendent $240,000 a year? That’s obscene. And some of his underlings, for the work they appear to do, are similarly overpaid.

  68. NewToKent Says:

    At KR on Thursday I stood with the special ed team and we counted honks for an hour in the afternoon. 72 honks of support, in addition to a lot of waves and thumbs-up we weren’t counting. During that time, there were 7 gestures of disapproval, including a simple glare or headshake. I make that 90% community support of all community that showed any response… Guess it’s nice to take data!

    In my previous district we had one full-staff meeting a month, by-class class caps that triggered paraeducator or coteacher support levels, and more help buying classroom materials. Stay strong, Kent, we *need* to change!!

  69. classsizematters Says:

    I am one of the teachers that voted no to the strike. I did not want to go out. But here I am walking the line for the support of my fellow teachers and on the issue of class size.

    When we were at work on Wednesday, I was informed by our principal that numbers for our 6th grade class of 25 students were too low by district standards. I am a looping teacher and had 30 students (4 ELL, 6 IEP, 1 504 and 2 autistic mainstreamed students) in my class. It is impossible to teach all children at their learning needs with this many students in one classroom. Let alone, physically being able to provide seats in the small classrooms. All 30 of these students had their own individual needs that needed to be met. It was impossible to do the demands placed on us by the district without working way beyond our scheduled work day. We are now looking at 6th grade classes of 33 and 34 to make the district happy. Our school has used all of our F.T.E.’s (allotment of staffing by the district based on our enrollment) to keep our class sizes small. We have no librarian, no technology staff and a 1/2 time coach to help with primary assessments.

    Where is the support for us? This issue of class sizes is huge. For those parents who think it is about pay, please inform yourself. For the majority of us it isn’t. The district isn’t even reporting correct class sizes on thier website. That should tell you something!

    I am still not comfortable on the picket line and pray for a quick settlement but I will be there to support my fellow teachers and have a small voice for the students who are not having their needs met by the large class sizes!

    • Got Boxes? Says:


      Thank you for continuing to support the rest of KEA.

      I have been concerned about ALL those at the meeting who voted no. Those of us who voted yes, need you who vote no to come to the meetings, etc. to keep the system balanced. You may not feel heard, but you are.

    • Not Giving Up Says:

      Thank you classsizematters!

      During Wednesday’s meeting, there were some members who stood up and voiced their opinion against the strike, and voted “No”. It takes a lot of strength (and guts) to stand up for what you believe in, especially in front of a huge crowd that has a differing opinion other than yours. I have nothing but respect for all of you for coming and making your vote count. I also admire those who although the strike is not what you wanted; you still stood by your colleagues on the picket lines. Thank you!

  70. ksdteachermom Says:

    I have also checked my class numbers posted on the KSD site and they are lower than the actual number of students I had in my classes. However, if the district wants to post these numbers as correct than why don’t they agree to a class size cap?
    If these numbers were correct then my classes did not go over the proposed cap and there would not be problem!

  71. Anonymous Says:

    There may have been people honking but when the same cars drive back and forth down the street does that count as a lot of support??? There are a lot of community members that pay their taxes that in turn pay for your salary! So you may believe that you have the full support of the community you might not see that there are a lot of us out here that don’t support this. You might want to take your rose colored glasses off. Maybe you should dust off your research skills and do some research of your own and double check the facts that your union is telling you. Just like with Boeing, does the union feel your pain, they are still getting their salary will you if this continues????

    • A Kent Teacher Says:

      Does “the union” feel my pain? Which union are you referring to? KEA only has 1 paid position, our president. For all the work she has done over the past couple of years, you could not get me to trade places with her for Dr. Vargas’s salary. (And her salary is what she would have received were she teaching, no more.) The WEA staff that is helping out is paid by a portion of union dues from the entire state.

      What facts do you think the union is telling us? We are the ones, that over the past couple of years told the union what was wrong with the district. We see the damage done in our classrooms. We told the union that we need more time with our students and fewer students in our classes. They work for us. You may not like to believe it, but it is the truth.

  72. Tegar Says:

    In a year when families have been devastated by home foreclosures, and indeed millions of job losses, where most Corporations and businesses have had to cut expenditures, by either closing facilities to reduce its overall operating structure, offer early retirement incentives, incorporate leaner lean operating processes, our household can find NO sympathy for the Teachers Union demands. Some people should count their blessing when far to many others are struggling.

    • Kent Mom Says:


      I believe in an earlier post, you had written that you have been unemployed for over a year. Might I suggest you take a writing course at the local community college to refresh your writing skills? You may find that some improvement in this area will result in more potential employers actually looking at your resume after they read your cover letter. Good luck!

    • KSD Student Says:

      As evidenced by every post you have made, you do not understand the disconnect between conditions elsewhere in the state and conditions for KSD. This district DOES have the money and resources to make a difference in the lives of thousands of families. The district isn’t in debt. It isn’t struggling financially. I’ll bet you MY salary that Vargas’ house isn’t going to be foreclosed on anytime soon.

      It makes me sad that there are people like you who would just let my siblings and I rot in the same lousy conditions year after year.

      Thankfully, there are even more educators willing to stand up for themselves, and willing to stand up for me.

  73. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    To theresa and others I’ve seen post here, if you want sympathy from the public, I suggest you not talk down to them by saying things like “you are probably not aware…..” . You don’t know if that is true or not. So, I suggest just making your statement.

    As for the $21MM rainy day fund, how far do you think that $21MM in the bank will go? If that gets dipped into how does it get replenished?

    Now, I’m just a lowly parent so I “may not be aware….” bu it is my understanding that state schools receive about$10,000 per student from all state, federal and local sources. Each class of 20 students thus receives $200,000. It would seem to me that should allow principals, not a statewide single salary scale, to determine teacher pay, to pay the best teachers up to $100,000, and to take the rest to run the school.

    And this report would seem to indicate there are enough funded teachers for class sizes of 18 students per class. What are those other certified teachers doing?

    And doing the math from this report, seems to show that the school district is responsible for the education of 25,499 kids. By dividing 25,499 by 1238 teachers, it looks like the district can provide classroom sizes of 20 students. Seems like problem solved. Unless there is something else going on that would seen to be unnecessary. Now, do the schools have the physical capacity to host such small class sizes? Are there enough class rooms?

    If a lowly parent like myself is who is “probably not aware….” can find this data, why can’t Karin Brackin Johnson?

    Which brings me to this question: if we are talking about money, why do Kent teachers pay the second highest union dues in the state–$1037/yr ? (Bellevue being 1st). What do you get for that amount of money? That seems like a lot. It would seem you all should be getting the top of the line negotiations for that price.What does the WEA do with all that money? I know I would certainly love $1037 back in my pocket.

    You teachers need to get a consistent message out and stay on it if you want continued public support. As I read through these posts I can’t figure out what the core issue is. Is it pay? Is it class size? Working conditions? What?

    • Got Boxes? Says:


      I apologize if I have offended any non-teachers out there. I’m just addressing the idea that if you haven’t been a teacher, befriended at teacher, been related to a teacher, it’s hard to know how much work goes into it. Many teachers I know make this job look easy (because they’re so good at what they do).

      Our consistent message is this: We are EXTREMELY concerned about
      1. Time (too many meetings, too much paperwork, not enough time with kids)
      2. Workload (unmanageable class sizes
      3. Compensation (for the 4th largest district in the state to be paid at the 80th ranking, something is not right)

      I noticed that you reference the Kent School District’s website in your posting. Please make sure you check out the KEA website at as well. There are numbers there that may be clearer for you.

    • Tuvok Says:

      Did you know that the state counts counselors and librarians as teachers when they do their student to teacher counts? Librarians and Counselors do not hold classes, thus the numbers in classes are higher than one would think. Probably about 10% of schools certificated staff fall into this cateogory.

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      I’m afraid you are doing a lot of over simplification.

      Our per student funding is closer to $8700. This money is used for a wide variety of things outside the immediate classroom but are still necessary to having a successful school. Some examples that I know of focus on the elementary level as that is where I teach.
      *Teaching staff
      *Lunch staff
      *Secretarial Staff
      *Specialists such as Counselors, Special Education, English Language Learners, Teaching Coaches and Therapists,
      *Teaching specialists such as Music, PE, Library and Technology
      *Instructional Assistants
      *Classroom supplies, everything from paper, paint, tape, pens and staplers to copy machines, computers and printers
      *Equipment such as desks, chairs and tables for classrooms
      *Equipment such as musical instruments, balls, jump ropes, mats and first aid equipment
      *Bills such as electrical and water
      *Building Maintenance such as painters and gardeners.

      This list focuses mainly on the school structure and doesn’t include things provided by the district such as technology services and assistance, printing services and someone to call when a pipe blows up. I keep thinking of things to add but will stop there.

      As to the rainy day fund, we are not asking that the district get rid of it, just stop adding to it and put the money in the classrooms. The district policy is to have 5% of the budget in reserves which comes to about $12.8 million yet they are at $21 million and keep adding to it. One thing my school has asked for are portables so we can have full day kindergarten but the district says it costs $100,000 to move one. Why not use some of that rainy day fund (and if it isn’t raining now, what are they waiting for?) to move the portables so we can help our kids better? We have some specialists teaching kids in a glorified hallway, our band rehearses in the library and we do not have the space to offer full day kindergarten. Those portables are at other schools sitting empty because those schools don’t have the numbers we do. That would be a one time cost and would not have to be sustained but would be a huge benefit to our school. Another one time cost would be to adjust some boundaries so that we could lower our numbers and help some of the smaller schools fill their portables.

      As for taking the number of students and dividing by the number of teachers, that is not an accurate reflection of how schools work. For example, at my school we have 30 teachers who are considered such because they have teaching certificates and can work with students. Of those 30, 8 work in capacities other than classroom teaching. We have music, PE, technology, a teaching coach, educational assistant, special education and a teacher who works with English language learners and two who work with small groups to help support students who are struggling. All of those teachers would be counted in your equation but none of them help solve issues of class size, though what they do provide is important.

      Finally, as to our issues we have three categories we are working on improving. Time, Workload and Compensation. Within those categories are different things we are trying to negotiate with the district as a contract is more complicated than a single issue. Issues in the Time category talk about excessive meetings, teacher directed time for collaboration and issues of leave. Workload addresses class sizes, case loads for people like therapists and Special Education and working with violent students. Compensation is trying to help Kent become in line with other districts in the area so that good teachers will want to come teach here rather than go to another district and get paid more. You can go to and click on Contract Proposals to see everything that we are talking about.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Very Frustrated,
        Thank you for the additional insight. Again, from the outside looking in, what you describe would seem to be a lot of overhead. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but I don’t recall there being so other “teachers” floating around. I’m not denying they don’t think they serve a useful purpose. However, I know that in the private sector we are always doing an assessment is what is essential to running a successful business. Now I’m pretty certain the union wouldn’t go for it, but it would seem to me if class size was really the major issue, many of those “certified” could be put to work teaching smaller class sizes rather then focusing on some specific specialization or task. I mean, if it was really about “the kids” and smaller class sizes and quality of education. You have certified teachers, which I’m guessing means they are “certified” to teach. Why send them to the front lines, so to speak.
        I guess I’m a bit confused. If you want smaller class sizes, then that is going to mean requiring more teachers to be doing daily class teaching. As I pointed out, the ratios currently exist. But you are saying that’s an oversimplification because some of these teachers are performing “specialized” roles. Okay. Fair enough. So if the district does grant you the class size issue, from where will these additional teachers…AND additional classrooms come?

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Oh, and thank you for attempting to clarify the key issues. But you still have a huge public perception to overcome. Even though you say it’s not about the money—-to the public at large?—it’s about the money.
        And someone from your union needs to edumacate all the teachers on how to talk to the media and stay on point. Because every teacher I’ve seen interviewed on the news talks about salary. Now, I grant you a lot of that has to do with editing at the newsroom, but you all have to control the message. If there is a rank order to issues, then every teacher needs to have that drilled into their heads, because the media is going to be seeking them out for comment. If any teacher goes off message, it will hurt your cause.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        Let me see if I can further clarify those other positions. Other elementary teachers may feel free to chime in as my view is a little different being music.
        Music and PE Teachers – These teachers see every class in the school and give them instruction in, well, music and PE. =) In addition to the instructional aspects of our positions, we help give teachers their planning time. The way my certification works, I actually cannot have my own general education classroom as that is not where my training is. I believe PE is the same way but a PE teacher may feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
        Educational Assistant – This person works in the capacity of a vice principal but does not have principal credentials so is considered a teacher rather than administration. Not every school has this but because our school meets certain thresholds of numbers and students on free and reduced lunch we have one. Again, she has teaching credentials but her role as an administrator is very important to our population. She helps with discipline and various other programs that are incredibly important to a well run school, especially with our high population of free and reduced lunch students which tends to be more difficult.
        Special Education – This is a teacher who’s sole purpose is working with special education students. She is in charge of writing student learning plans, working with small groups and assisting the teacher with instruction in regards to that student. I’m 99% sure we are required by the state to have such a teacher on staff.
        English Language Learner Specialist – This is similar to the special education teacher but works with students who speak foreign languages. Again, she works with small groups of students to help catch them up and helps teachers with instruction. Again, I believe because of our population we are required to have her.
        Two teachers providing supplemental instruction – These two teachers work with smaller groups of kids to help bring them up to grade level so they can stay in the classroom. This supports teachers with those large classes and streamlines instruction because those lowest students who need the most help are being helped elsewhere. I’m not sure why exactly we chose to go this route but I think it has to do with uneven numbers (so we don’t have QUITE enough to make that 4th third grade classroom) and the fact that we don’t have room for another class in our building.
        Teaching Coach – This is one person I know people have mentioned is nice to have but could be better used in the classroom right now. This person is in charge of helping teachers use the curriculum, work with students and gather and evaluate data. I never work with this person because of my position so maybe another teacher can chime in with a better description.

        I mentioned the space issue but I will bring it up again. There are schools who have classrooms and portables SITTING EMPTY. A few years ago the district did a lot of boundary changes and we for one got slammed with new students. Our school was built for about 550 I believe and we are at 580 last I heard and we will be registering students well into the second week of school. I would not be surprised if we hit 600. We are packed to the gills. Our instructional assistants teach in a glorified hallway, our band rehearses in the library and we have no space to offer full day kindergarten as the district has asked us to do the past few years. My friend teachers at an elementary school a few miles away and says they have four empty portables they are not using this year. As a one time cost, the district could move a few portables to my school and give us the space to offer full day kindergarten and possibly use our teachers in such a way that we could reduce class sizes because we finally have places to put them.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      Jimmy, I know you like numbers. Certificated staff reported are not necessarily “highly qualified” to teach in every subject area. In 1987, teachers entering the profession were required to get endorsements by the State of Washington in subjects that related to teaching. Those endorsements limit what subjects those teachers can teach. As a music teacher, and according to the State of Washington, I am endorsed to teach K-12 general music and 5-12 instrumental music. I would not ever consider teaching a subject I haven’t studied to teach, or done course work in long term unless I was substitute teaching and following someone else’s lesson plan. I did the same math you did today – but the reality is teachers must teach in their subject area. It skews the numbers. The district must hire according to qualifications AND school need. If principals were doling out the money according to your math, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

        But that still wouldn’t solve the TIME and WORKLOAD issues.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Well then, if you want smaller class sizes that would seem to mean the district will need more teachers to, because it would seem to create more classes to be taught. From where will these classroom teachers come? And they are going to have to get paid from the current budget, which is likely going to kill your demand for higher salaries.

        Where’s the money going to come from? The state can’t just go raise the money tomorrow.

        And finally, as someone mentioned earlier. You need to be cognizant of potential unintended consequences. If you guys get want you demand, don’t be surprised if the up coming bond and levy issues don’t pass. The public is likely going to say: “What the heck? They went on strike for more money (because that is going to be the prevailing perception–no matter how much you all say “it’s not about the money”—in the public’s eye, it’s about the money), and now they are asking is for more money, AGAIN?”

    • Kent HS Teacher Says:


      I’m wondering where you got the stats on union dues? I’m looking at my paystub right now and my monthly dues are $71.81. That comes out to $861.72. The WEA doesn’t get all that money, some of it goes to our local, and a small amount goes to the NEA I believe.

      What do I get? I get a union president and a uni-serv director who will come and defend me if an administrator decides to break the law and put a letter in my file without an investigation. I get legal services in case I am ever falsely accused of something in the classroom. (Yes, sadly, this does happen.) There are other things too, but it’s late and I’m too tired to think of them all.

      Are you from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation by any chance?

  74. true transparency Says:

    Dr. Vargas stated in one of his video clips that at the bargaining table KSD was being transparent. Of course they are being transparent, all financials are public record, they have to be transparent because KEA knows the true financial story. Maybe he and our School Board members should begin being transparent (TELL THE TRUTH) with the entire community in his video clips.

    For Example:
    1. 3.4 million cut from central office and administrators is EXTREMELY misleading to the community. Not one of the top 4 tiers of ‘management’ lost their jobs – everyone there kept their jobs. Now TRUE TRANSPARENCY would have been showing how many Asst. Superintendents, Executive Directors, and Directors there are and how much they make. I do know each of those positions make well over 100K a year. Instead they chose to cut administrators below them at the school level: Ed. Assist., Asst. Principals, TOSAs, etc…. positions that directly support and help students succeed. I have yet to see anyone in the top 4 tiers actually spend enough meaningful time at schools with teachers and students all day to investigate needs or concerns. SHAME ON YOU!!!
    2. Today a new link on KSD website so you can see class sizes from last year. Once again TRUE TRANSPARENCY would have been having the teachers agree on the published number printed and a way for them to record how many students there actually were in their rooms for the majority of the year.
    3. TRUE TRANSPARENCY would have been telling the community that there are numerous ‘Coordinator’ positions at the district that receive much more $ than teachers. Yes a 5th tier of management that does not have contact with students. Only 2 of those positions were cut. Several of those positions could be eliminated. People in those positions too should be required to spend a certain number of hours with students and teachers throughout the year.

    Now TRUE TRANSPARENCY would be:
    1. Listening and working in a teacher’s classroom that has ELL students,
    IP students, and the majority of students on free & reduced lunch. Then tell the truth!
    2. Having the School Board members visit the schools more often and observe first hand the concerns of the parents, teachers, and students and then tell the Administrators at Central Office what really needs to be done.
    3. Listening to the cold hard facts about our student population in Kent (now a minority – majority district). Realize that our growing number of free & reduced lunch population, our expanding ELL population, and the increasing number of homeless students is and will continue to drastically impact the classroom on a daily basis. It is being honest with yourself and doing what is best for ALL STUDENTS. CUT CLASS SIZES!

    On a closing note, we often hear that parents, teachers and students must all come together and do their part to help each child succeed. I have yet to hear Superintendent, Asst. Super., Executive Director, Director, Coordinator included in that list.


  75. BaffledTeacher Says:

    I am concerned by the KSD’s report that shows our class size for the 2008-2009 school year. According to the district, it states that I had 23 students (they are showing numbers according to Semester 1, not Semester 2). In reality, I had 27 students in my class, so I am VERY concerned that the district is publishing inaccurate information.

    Please check the following link to see if your class size is accurate. This information is very misleading to all.

    • neelyparent Says:

      The class I helped out at Neely every week had at least 24 kids and at most 28 kids (our school is surrounded by apartments and class size is very dynamic).
      The class size list published by the district shows this class at 15. 15???? Are you kidding me?

      Another parent noticed the class size of the teacher she helped every week listed at 18. She remembers 22-25 kids in that given class.

      • neelyparent Says:

        I just did the math on the Neely headcount and the total students accounted for on the district spreadsheet for 2008 are 542 students. Neely had over 700 students last year….where is the accounting for these ghost students???
        Any other schools notice a huge discrepancy like this??

  76. ksdmom Says:

    Here’s a site where you can look up what teachers make, so that you can get a fair comparison of the salaries:

    • kenteducationassociation Says:


      Since your email address is, and since you point our readers to the EFF website, I imagine that you are actually an operative from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and probably not actually a parent in the Kent School District. Even if you are, we want to make sure our readers are fully informed. As most know, EFF is an organization funded primarily by corporate donors such as Wal-Mart to oppose labor unions, especially teachers’ unions. EFF believes that strikes are illegal and that public schools should be replaced by a system of vouchers and charter schools. That being said, the info you link to is taken directly from information in the public domain, so I will not contradict you here.

      As this strike continues, we remind our readers that many special interests may do their best to spread their own propaganda on this site. Just remember that KEA members’ “Special Interests” are the students whose education is being jeopardized by misguided spending priorities in Kent.

      • ksdmom Says:

        You have a wild imagination to picture me as some operative and lobbyist for sharing a statistical listing. I simply did a Google search because someone on the Komo news site said there was a site that listed salaries. This site came up as a site that listed the salaries and I took a look at it and the salary matched up for my two friends, who are teachers, so I personally felt comfortable with the salary information. I was actually disappointed to find that a couple of really great teachers were making the same amount as the teacher, at our elementary school, that everyone is trying to avoid getting this year. It is definitely unbalanced.

        It is a good thing that I didn’t give my e-mail as your site says that e-mails will not be published but I didn’t quite trust you and then you published what I had entered in that field, so you are not trustworthy.

      • concerned parent Says:

        An operative? Seriously? You call someone that and expect us to respect the union? Did you ever hear the saying that “you get more flies with honey”? I’d have more respect for KEA if I didn’t feel like it was using my kids to further its agenda. Maybe the changes the union wants would benefits KSD students, but guess who this strike is hurting: those students you care so deeply about. District officials couldn’t care less. They’re still fat and happy — and getting those fat paychecks.

    • alsoakentteacher Says:

      No need to be sneaky “ksdmom.” Just come out with your opinion as your website specifically does:

      • ksdmom Says:

        That’s not my web site and actually I didn’t look around at the rest of the web site until I was called an operative and I agree with many things on that web site. Before moving to KSD, I was actively involved in trying to bring Charter Schools to WA State on a grass roots community level on the Eastside.

        I use a fictitious e-mail because I’m a techie and I know about e-mail harvesting and I don’t like spam. I teach my clients to do the same thing. I’m surprised that more people don’t know that they should not use their real e-mail address in Internet forums. I could have used my junk mail address but it has something like 65,000 e-mails in it already and it’s a pain to wait for them all to delete.

  77. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    er…um…kenteducationassoction, why did you feel the need to out ksdmom’s email address? When you register on this site for comment, it says “email address will not be published”. So why did you do that?

    And why the need to employ an argumentum ad hominem argument in your reply? Basic high school debate teaches one to address the facts and steer away from logical fallacies.

    I think an apology to ksdmom is in order. I know as far as I’m concerned, you’ve just lost some level of support by doing what you did.

    • mytmel Says:

      Agreed, Hoffa. Now that I know the “E-mail (will not be published)” line is not a guarantee, I’m not going to EVER use my true email again in an unknown forum. I guess I should thank kenteducationassoc. for this new tidbit of knowledge. From here on out I’ll be “”

      Glad I didn’t have to put in a home address or phone number to post (strictly confidentially, of course)

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I’m sorry if people take offense for me publishing an obviously fictitious email address to point out that some of the posters here are not on the level. I have been posting everything that comes in, even the ones that the WordPress blogging tool we use screens it out as SPAM. Please know that this was done very purposefully to make the point that not everyone that is on this blog is a community member who cares about kids in this area. (It sounds from subsequent posts by “ksdmom” that she is, in fact, a member of the community.) Since this is a forum about KEA and the kids of the Kent School District, we are very watchful of the actions of our opponents, who are spreading misinformation at best, and flat out lies at worst. I encourage those of you who are conspiracy theorists to go back through the 600 posts on this blog and find a point where I posted any real email address.

      • concerned parent Says:

        Hey, KEA, if you’re so eager to help students, why don’t you stop using loaded words like “opponent” and “operative”? They’re not endearing you to me or to many other parents I know. Stop making this so ugly. You and KSD have to work together FOR THE KIDS once all is said and done, and with such disrespect on both sides, I imagine that’s going to be difficult. Take the high road if you want respect.

      • ksdmom Says:

        One option for a fictitious e-mail could be that someone is not “on the level.” But, that is only one option, there are many other options to consider.

        I’m a blogger and I used to be a moderator on an old-time thing called CompuServe and you really have to be open to considering any number of options from your posters. I believe that we learn much more by interacting with persons that we disagree with, than by those who share our own opinions.

        I appreciate those who have responded to me. I’ve been able to clarify my viewpoint and know fully what my views are now. I just bought plane tickets and we’re going somewhere warm on vacation to enjoy some more summer.

  78. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    btw, i realize if was a non functional email address you outed, but the point remains.

  79. Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:


  80. EI@LY Says:


    You have asked what are the issues? The issues are class size, time, workload, and then fair compensation. We have consistently stated those as being our issues.

    Class size, time, and workload are connected. When teachers have a large number of students it reduces the amount of time we can spend with each of them. The best teaching practice is working with small groups of students or individual students during the day, tailoring their instruction to meet their learning needs and abilities. When special needs and ELL students come back to the general ed classroom, we are suppose to meet with them individually to give them another “dose” of instruction. Giving all students the individual attention they need is very hard to achieve when class sizes are large. What happens is certain students receive most of the time and attention and the majority of the students tend to get left out, most of the time.

    From my perspective, I view teaching as a two part job. The 6.5 hours that your children are in school are the hours I get paid for. During those hours, I spend all of my time delivering instruction and making contact with students in some form or fashion. I could be teaching a whole group lesson, working with small groups, conferring with individuals or just simply circulating around the room peeking over students’ shoulders checking on their progress. And sometimes I just chitchat with students in an effort to build relationships with them. However, none of this would be possible if I didn’t do the second part, the most crucial part of my job.

    The second part of my job happens after the dismissal bell rings. That is the time I use to plan, study, and prepare for the following day. If this second part to my job doesn’t get done learning isn’t going to happen. A teacher can’t be effective if he/she is trying to teach “on the fly”.

    If I were to skip working those after school, unpaid hours you would find me, instead, sitting at my own desk, during my paid hours, reading my teaching manuals, filling in my plan book, preparing and gathering materials for the next day, correcting papers , and entering grades into my gradebook. During the time I am doing all of the preparation needed for the following day, students would be doing busy work to keep them from bothering me. That would be a very sad waste of their time and it wouldn’t add to the quality of their education.

    Well managed and organized classrooms don’t appear by magic. It happens through daily, careful, and thorough planning that takes place after the students go home. Those are the hours teachers would like to be fairly compensated for because it is part of our job.

    So once again, the issues are class size, time, workload, and fair compensation for the job we are doing already.

  81. KSDmom&teacher Says:

    I am a Teacher of KSD and a mom of 2 with the Kent schools. I do know for a FACT that the class sizes stated on the KSD website are FALSE! I teach 5th grade and it states that I had 27 students in my class; I had up to 30 at one time. My own children’s classrooms are also in-accurate as well. I wish the district would stop falsifying information to the public.

  82. sad&frustratedStriker Says:

    If the class size numbers are correct on the KSD website (which many have indicated they are not), why would it cost the district 2.7 million to cut 1 student from each overcrowded class? It appears that a class size cap would cost them very little. It seems that they would be happy to agree with KEA on class size caps on the contract then. Looking at their numbers it appears that class size is not an issue. How transparent is that KSD? What are the REAL class sizes

  83. luvtoteach Says:

    I noticed on the class list published from my elementary school that teachers who looped with their kids were listed at their 2007-2008 teaching postion. On the KM list a teacher who hasn’t taught at KM or anywhere else for 2 or more years was listed as having a class. Hmmmm What’s up with that?

    • concerned parent Says:

      I checked the class list for my child’s school yesterday and noticed several of the classes are wrong. Also, the elementary school class sizes refer to homerooms, but in all the years I’ve volunteered in the school’s, I’ve noticed that the sizes of homerooms are very different than the sizes of math and language arts classes. I don’t care a bit about how many kids are in my child’s homeroom, but I care immensely how many math students of different levels the teacher has to accommodate. Believe me, they aren’t the same thing.

  84. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    El@ly, thank you for listing the issues. What would be the rank order of those issues? Because you have to realize you are not going to get everything you ask for. So, if you had to give on one, which one would it be? If you say “none”, well, be prepared to for a long negotiation period, then.

    As for the pay issue. You bring up the fact you “only get paid for the 6.5 hours you teach my kids”. With all due respect, I have a hard time sympathizing with that mentality. You all are on salary, you don’t punch a clock. I am on salary at my job, too. If I look at the hours I work and divide it by my salary, I am working cheap, but that’s want comes with being a salaried employee. There are times I have to travel on Sunday to make a business meeting on Monday. I don’t whine about the fact I have to be away on Sunday because Sunday is not an “official” work day. My job sometimes requires I travel on weekends, entertain customers at business dinners in the evenings, attend conferences out of town the carry over into the weekend. This is what salaried employees do.

  85. Greg MacPherson Says:

    My wife went down to the School District Administration building Friday to support the teachers during lunch. Here’s what happened to her:

    My wife went to the lunchtime protest in front of the School District Headquarters in Kent. She showed up with a home made sign that said “Boycott Golden Steer”. She was told to leave by two KEA [n.b. actually WEA] people.

    The teachers whom she spoke with all were in favor of her sign and the suggestion. However some unidentified tall brown-haired guy and some unidentified woman told her “no personal attacks”. I find that an interesting viewpoint – I fail to see how a sign that says “Boycott Golden Steer” constitutes a “personal attack”.

    Of course, Jim Berrios is the owner of the Golden Steer restaurant – but that information was nowhere on the sign.

    Basically if the Union wants support from the parents for the teachers, the Union needs to stop being [expletive deleted]. If the Union wants the support of the public, then the Union needs to openly criticize the fact that the School Board administration is refusing to take a proportionate amount of the necessary financial pain for themselves. If the Union wants the support of the public, then the Union needs to criticize the School District Directors for agreeing to a hugely overpriced contract for Doctor Vargas – who may be a renowned speaker on leadership but who has exhibited not one iota of leadership thus far. If the Union wants the continued suppose of the public, then the Union needs to communicate that the School Board Directors are asking the teachers to walk to the unemployment line while the School Board Directors walk home to their plush homes with their fat compensation packages intact.

    If the Union is going to play political correctness games with parents, like my wife who is a REPUBLICAN and who wants to SUPPORT the teachers, by turning away people because of what a sign says, then their public support will erode and they will lose this battle. Remember, teachers are members of the community, and without the community the teachers face a difficult and emotional strike – with only the Union for support.

    I talked with [a Union official] about this incident. [The Union official] basically said “We cannot control what the public does” – yet my wife was denied her Constitutional freedom of assembly by two KEA [n.b. – WEA] people. Not a smart strategy if the Union wants to maintain public sympathy for a protracted walkout.

    My advice to the teachers is to remember the rules of the schoolyard – if you are going to fight, and the other guy fights dirty, then either you had better fight dirty or else you had better run away – because unless you are prepared to fight and to win, regardless of the rules, you are going to get your [expletive deleted] kicked all over the schoolyard.

  86. EI@LY Says:


    Whenever I have been asked to reply to a survey about school issues, I always rank salary below class size. My priority is class size because I know from personal experience that I can have a bigger impact on student learning if I have fewer students to work with. Just by reducing class size the workload issue would improve as well. Of course I would like a raise. But for me it isn’t as crucial, now. But when I was a single mother it would have been easier to be where I am on the salary schedule now, back then.

    I have several family members that have jobs that sound like yours. They seem to have more control over how they spend their time on the job than I do. They have more time during their 8:00-5:00 day to prepare for that business meeting, dinner, or conference. In fact, they tell me that is the time they use to call on clients, both face to face and on the phone. They use that time to write up proposals, contracts, business plans, prepare for presentations, and make their travel plans. So they have everything ready at the start of their meetings with clients and customers and it was accomplished between 8-5. Sometimes, if they aren’t quite prepared, meetings are postponed to give them more time to get ready. My sister said she couldn’t imagine doing those things while her clients were sitting in front of her, waiting.

    My students control most of my time. My students wouldn’t wait very patiently while I was preparing their math lesson or gathering up the materials for their science lesson. They wouldn’t like it very much either if I were conducting a phone conference while they were waiting for me to get reading started. I’m pretty certain they couldn’t wait quietly while I corrected their papers either. Kids are pretty tough customers and they don’t like to be kept waiting. When they ask for attention they expect to get it immediately. So I have to do my planning in the evenings, every day, not just sometimes. I would love to be able to punch a clock and be paid by the hour for every hour I work. It would come out to be more than my current salary divided by 12 months, which is how I get paid.

    Yes, you and I are both salaried employees. But there is a difference. Other salaried employees I know are paid for year-round work. I work a 182 day year and that’s how many days I get paid for. Every vacation that your children get is an unpaid week for me. Every holiday that your children get off is an unpaid day for me. The salaried employees I know receive paid vacation time and get paid on days like Memorial Day, even though they get the day off. Many salaried employees I have known have been able to continue their education, including earning an advanced degree, at the expense of their employers. Teachers pay for every single college credit they need to advance themselves up the salary schedule. If a teacher can’t afford to buy those credits, they stay at the beginning step of the schedule. This summer, I volunteered to take a series of math training classes because I wanted to be current on new math standards and our new curriculum. It was a paid training. I am a seasoned teacher, at the top of the pay scale, so the money I was paid will go straight into my pocket. All the teachers, new to the profession, were taking our their checkbooks to pay for the college credits, so they actually earned less for those weeks in class than I did. The salaried people I know don’t seem to have a cap on their salaries; teachers do. Once we reach the top, we stay there until either the state or our districts decide to give us a raise. We don’t automatically get COLAs either. It just seems to me that the salaried people I know don’t have stagnated salaries.

    Yes, I am a salaried employee like you, but even the friends and family I know who are salaried employees see the difference.

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      Not every salaried position in the private sector is a simplistic as you make it sound. I do see your point regarding PTO and holidays. Is that common in every school district?

      • EI@LY Says:

        Ahhh….so neither one of us is really as knowledgeable about each others’ jobs as we would like to think. Teaching is also a very complicated job. Yes, PTO and holidays are the same for ALL public school teachers. I believe that the biggest misconception the public has about teaching is how teachers are paid. Many people believe that we are paid for 260 days of work and receive paid vacations and holidays. But the fact is we aren’t. That could be why so many people think teachers are very overpaid.

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:


      Really the only time vacation becomes an issue as far as salary is concerned is if you don’t use it when you are either fired or quit. I realize that is not consistent across all the private sector. The point is, I take vacation or holiday I still get the same paycheck every two weeks. When one of your pay periods falls during a school holiday, are you saying your paycheck reflects one or more days not worked, depending on the time off the school takes for breaks and holidays? Do you get one less paycheck during Dec because of Christmas break?

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        If I may inject a quick explanation, that might help. If you get confused, think about how a first year teacher feels when they hear this explained the first few times.

        Kent teachers are paid for a 180 day workload through mainly state and some local levy and bond funds, plus two Learning Improvement Days paid by the state. (Counselors and some other specialists work an extended contract, depending on their job description, but the vast majority of KEA members work the 182 days.) We are paid an hourly rate for 7.5 hrs per day, which includes the classes we teach, as well as our planning time before, during, and after school.

        We get additional pay called “Effective Education” for work we do outside the normal 182 day calendar, such as planning, grading, attending classes, and attending SOME meetings. This pay is standard across the state because every District recognizes that teachers put in a huge number of hours above and beyond our contracted day. The majority of our Effective Education pay in Kent is paid primarily in our December and June paychecks, and is “deemed done.” This is because the District knows that we work far more hours above and beyond the contracted day that we are not paid for, so they get our labor on the cheap. However, the District and KEA have negotiated that some Effective Education hours (called “Principal’s Effective Ed.”) must be documented via timesheet to be collected. We used to have to document all our Effective Ed. hours via timesheet, which the District admitted meant that about 20% of this pay went unclaimed by KEA members. (To use me as an example, I burned up all my Effective Ed. hours by the end of September one year, which meant that any hours outside the work day for the rest of the year I was putting in were unpaid.)

        The end result is that our hourly pay for 7.5 hrs times 182 school days is spread out evenly over 12 months, and then the Effective Education money is added at different rates throughout the school year. This means that any day we are not in school we generally aren’t getting paid. You ask if we are salary or hourly workers, and the answer is we are sort of both. Time off (like during this strike) is really time without pay for us.

        Perhaps this sheds a light on why teachers are getting angry when people are saying that we are greedy employees who should just do the work and shut up?

      • Teacher Says:

        Please read kenteducationassoc response. It is a far better explanation than I could have given you.

        BTW, thank you for the good questions and meaningful dialogue.

  87. Clarified Says:

    This is for Confused who does not understand why the administrators are the target of attack.

    The current financial problems of the State of Washington result from a very real decline in revenues. for the sake of argument, let us suppose that the decrease in the amount of revenue is twenty percent.

    Are Governor Gregoire, the State employees, County employees, King County Council, or anyone else reducing their compensation by twenty percent? No.

    Are Kent School District Directors and administrators reducing their compensation by twenty percent? No.

    Are WEA and KEA union leaders being asked to reduce their compensation by twenty percent? Are union dues being reduced by twenty percent? No.

    Who is being asked to shoulder the burden of the reduction in revenue? The rank and file teachers.

    I am not trying to start a class warfare argument. Personally, I have no problem with people being paid six figure salaries. The Puget Sound area is an expensive area. If you are fresh out of college with no home, no family obligations, and your priorities revolve around socializing, $37K is a pretty good starting salary. If you are an older, more established educator, with home and family, then you should be properly compensated. If you are a skilled administrator, then you also should be properly compensated.

    All salary figures are from the following Web site:

    These are 2007 salary figures for teachers and administrators. Notice that former School Superintendent Barbara Grohe walked away with US$180,000 in salary. Notice that teacher salaries range from US$37,000 to US$85,000. Notice that assistant principals, principals, and people like Rebecca Hanks make markedly higher salaries than the teachers:

    Last Name First Name MI Base Salary Other Salary Total Salary Benefits
    Hanks Rebecca M $96,748 $4,794 $101,542 $23,297

    Confused, ask yourself some questions: is Doctor Edward Lee Vargas volunteering to reduce his compensation package by twenty percent? No.

    Is Dr. Vargas, supposedly a “renowned speaker on leadership”, leading the negotiations? No – he’s recorded a telemarketing call that is being used to try to pacify teachers.

    Why did Dr. Vargas move around so much from school district to school district? Was he poached, or perhaps is he not as qualified as his credentials suggest? And why is his focus on ‘diversity” considered such a strength? Isn’t the Kent School District already ‘diverse’ enough?

    How is Dr. Vargas worth a reported US$240,000 in salary, plus a car allowance, plus benefits? Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell each earn approximately US$170,000 annually. Is Doctor Vargas “more valuable” than our two US Senators?

    The bottom line, as cliche as it sounds, is that asking the teachers, parents, and students to bear the burden of the proposed cost cutting measures (lower pay and benefits, increased class sizes, etc) is UNFAIR.

    Supposed leaders like Dr. Vargas, elected officials like Jim Berrios and Bill Boyce, and the over-bloated Kent School District administrative staff all get to keep their warm homes and their compensation packages untouched, while the teachers are being walked to the unemployment line and forced to make concessions in the quality of their lives and the quality of the education that they provide to Kent School District parents and children. Is that fair?

    And, just to clarify for Confused, you say that administrators are paid more because they have more responsibilities – they have to run the business of the school district. Fine – answer another question. Did the teachers, parents, and students make the bad loans and bad business policies that resulted in the bailouts, defaulted mortgages, and other economic news that is the genesis of the reduction in revenue that started all this? No.

    The decisions that resulted in the sordid economic picture that we all face today were made by administrators – highly paid, allegedly highly skilled people in companies like Enron, WaMu, and in the Federal government who got to keep their warm homes and fat compensation packages while regular people – like teachers and parents and students – lost their homes, businesses, and retirements.

    There is greed and corruption in the Kent School District, as there is in other parts of America today. The only remaining avenue to combat it is to take on the powerful people who want to continue to benefit during hard times while they sacrifice the teachers who actually go into the classroom and actually educate.

    There are unfair practices being perpetrated by the administration against the teachers who do not reap the rewards of being the policy makers and holding the purse strings. The only remaining avenue to combat these unfair practices is a walkout – to force the powerful to accept some of the burden of the current economic climate, instead of allowing them to foist it onto those least equipped to bear it.

    If you are confused, ask yourself how bad conditions must be to force dedicated teachers who have NEVER HAD A STRIKE in the one hundred plus year history of the Kent School District to vote eighty-six percent in favor of a walkout.

    The issues may be confusing, but the direction is clear – the teachers must remain strong, and must demand concessions – starting with the removal of Edward Lee Vargas and his ridiculous, over-bloated compensation package, followed by an across the board reduction of administrative salaries, a freeze on capital expenditures for projects, and release of the US$20 million dollars being held hostage by Rebecca Hanks – before agreeing to return to work. As painful as the current situation seems, there are approximately seventeen hundred people whose livelihood and futures depend on the support of their community and their resolve.

  88. Martin Sortun parent Says:

    I was just reading the last proposal yesterday from the school district and I noticed that if they can’t get the class size reduced they will pay the teacher more per “extra” student over the limit. I know the teachers should be paid more in this situation but that doesn’t help my TWO special ed students in regular classrooms. The more students in their classrooms the less help they will be able to receive from the teacher. I don’t like that my kids need this extra attention but since they are mainstreamed like the district wants most IEP kids the fact is they need extra help, not to succeed but just survive the school year. I am very sad that my children’s quality of education does not seem very important to the district- they would rather “buy off” a teacher than create more classes.

  89. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    MartinSortun parent

    So that raises the question: If the district gave the teachers everything but the salary increase would that be acceptable? Conversely, if the district gave the teachers the salary increase but NOT the class reduction issue, would that be sufficient? Or is it “all or nothing”?

  90. M1A1 Tank LT Says:


    Clarified you said it all. That is the most remarkable posting of why we are striking that I’ve read. Well said!

  91. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    Clarified, do teachers have the same responsibilities and job requirements as the District Superintendent? What do you think the salary of the Superintendent should be? Keep in mind it has to be competitive with other school districts in the state, or KSD will have a difficult time filling the position when it comes open. So…you imply the salary is out of whack with the proletariat…so what would a competitive salary be?

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      I find this an interesting post because we are saying the exact same thing about teachers and being called greedy for it. (Not you specifically, Jimmy Hoffa, just in general.) I can’t find it right now (can someone help me out?) but Seattle Times put out a database of teacher salaries last year where you can search by job and one of those is Superintendant. You have to wade through the information a little bit because it doesn’t differentiate between head and assistant superintendent but $240,000 is a HIGHLY competitive salary and is definitely at the high end of the scale. If it is important to provide a competitive salary to attract some one well qualified for the job of superintendant, why isn’t that same idea true for hiring the people who actually work with the kids? Right now, the salaries Kent is offering are at the bottom of the of the pay scale for local districts which is why it’s an issue even in a time of economic down turn and maybe especially so. With things being difficult, teachers looking for jobs are going to place a higher premium on districts that pay better even though the lower paying district may have a lot going for it.

  92. Clarified Says:

    First and foremost, allow me to provide you with directions to find the School District meeting notes of the appointment of Dr. Edward Lee Vargas as Kent School district Superintendent:

    Start here:

    Click on the text link for Search below the blue banner reading Board Docs.

    Type the word “superintendent” (sans quotes) in the input field and click the Search button to the right.

    The second entry, dated 02/25/2009 – details the School Board meeting vote to appoint Doctor Vargas.

    You might also be interested in the first entry, dated August 26. 2009 – which details four resolutions that the School District Superintendent recommends be taken in the event of a work stoppage. Notice, BTW, that this strike is a work stoppage.

    What does this have to do with your question? Let’s review:

    Do teachers have the same responsibilities as teachers? No, of course not – let’s consider that one rhetorical.

    What do I think the salary of the Superintendent should be? Well it should be at least a living wage, so at least US$100,000. However beyond that, since this is a public position working with the community and the labor unions, I would not put someone who was asking for an exorbitant amount of money in the position for fear of antagonizing the teachers and the administrators. Keeping in mind that it has to be competitive – well, let’s look at those numbers, shall we?

    Kitsap Sun, June 22, 2009
    New Bremerton School District Superintendent Lester “Flip” Herndon will be paid $141,500 a year, slightly more than the average salary for top public school leaders in the state.

    So, just for fun, let’s call US$140,000 the average.

    Doctor Edward Lee Vargas, renowned speaker on leadership, earns a reported US$240,000 PLUS US$833 per month (personal car allowance) plus a full benefits package (conservative estimate an additional US$25,000 per year).

    How the heck that even comes CLOSE to the average I have no idea. Are there any math teachers in the crowd?

    Whether or not Vargas is qualified, or whether or not his appointment (and compensation package) was a mistake, is a judgment best left to the voters who will communicate their opinions when they vote on the School district directors in future elections.

    You can skip the whole Marxist proletariat baiting bit – I’m not interested in arguing Marxism and Capitalism here – save that for Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

    Now, I have a question for you – what makes you think that the salary is the issue in my original post (because it’s not)?

    The issue in my original post is the FAIRNESS of the policy being pursued by the administration against the employees.

    Obviously I did a poor job of outlining my position in that post, so let me recap here:

    Washington State revenues are down this year – thanks to reduced Federal government spending, reduced sales tax revenues, reduced property tax revenues, etc etc etc.

    Democrat Governor Christine Gregoire’s budget provides approximately twenty percent less funding for Washington State public schools in 2010.

    Not like *she* took a pay cut.

    So, who is going to have to absorb the financial strain of a twenty percent reduction in compensation?

    Is it the aforementioned (and highly compensated) Doctor Vargas? Fat and happy and exhibiting not a scintilla of leadership so far in the negotiations. Nope.

    Is it the (allegedly bloated) administrative staff of the Kent School District, many if whom make over US$100,000 per year? Nope. In fact, the School District Directors had the GAUL to introduce a newly hired Assistant Principal during their meeting last week – poor woman had no idea she was being used as a tool – it was embarrassing and arrogant all at once.

    Is it the KEA and WEA union leadership who make over US$100,000 per year? Nope. And why should they even be part of the discussion – they’re not paid with public monies (okay, indirectly they are paid partially with public monies through dues supplied by the union members). Still, the answer is no.

    Is it the scheduled projects and programs and capital expenditures that will be cut, delayed, postponed, or otherwise curtailed for lack of funding? Nope.

    Is it the one thousand seven hundred rank and file teachers, who earn between a starting salary of US$37,000 and US$78,000 per year plus benefits including leaves for illness, injury, and emergencies (yes, I have a copy of the contract to read), who have to pay for their own continuing education, who have to buy their own school supplies in the Dollar Store (I’ve seen them in there), and who have to tolerate up to three dozen anxious, undisciplined, unruly children for one hundred eighty two days out of each year?

    Yeah, baby!

    Whatd’ya think, Jimmy, is that fair?

    Are you a proponent of the “[expletive deleted] flows downhill” school of collective bargaining? Is that why your entombed in Section 37 of the Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey?

    See, I went through the public school system, and came out the other side. I know what I’m talking about, can formulate an argument, and can back up what I say with facts and figures. None of this bourgeois “let them eat cake” nonsense from me – no. I’m not implying anything – I’m stating it unequivocally – and without spelling mistakes – to prove a point.

    My point is that in the United States of America it is unfair to ask the least among us to shoulder the burdens of this economic downturn while the powerful and wealthy who claim to lead do not share the burden.

    Let Doctor Vargas give back twenty percent of his contract compensation for 2010 as a sign of good faith. I know it will be tough for him to survive on a paltry US$192,000 a year, but we all have to make sacrifices.

    Let the administrators and the District people and the others tighten their belts. Put the multipurpose rooms and gyms and other projects on hold.

    Then, and only then, can the teachers in fairness be asked to sacrifice.

    Lead from the front – otherwise your that guy in the Pink Floyd song (Dark Side of the Moon) that says:

    “Forward he cried…from the rear…and the front rank…died”

  93. Silence do good Says:

    As before, I read some posts and ponder them, then I input my two cents worth. “Clarified” answered “Confused” as to the monetary situation in the state of Washington. I agree that the situation is very real. However, there is a trend. Remember the millions of dollars for the ferries? It seems that as soon as it hit the governor’s hands it vanished. Something similar to this appears to also have happened years before Katrina was even a breeze. Congress gave money to the President who sent it to the governor of Louisiana for coastal protection. The money never made it and the trail went cold. Who paid for that unchecked crime? No doubt one of our neighbors may know. Who is paying the bill now? This misappropriation of funds when unchecked becomes a fad for greedy people who like the position of [district] administrator and / or board member but stay away from the grease that makes the machine work while sporting their titles on their shoulders. The end result is that the students pay a hefty price in that they truly do not receive a fair education despite the endless nights the principals in the schools (I have one school in mind, and I am sure their are others) spend in the building trying to meet the teacher’s needs. For them, this is not about you. Cudos to you. The community would be well served to remember that they have power over the board. Fix the board, get better education. Simple.
    Again, “Clarified” talks about bad loans and such. There was a political move in the 1970’s that conceived a monster involving housing. We are now seeing it’s baby. A lot of this would never have come to fruition if the community (voters) stood up and said “Not only no, but NO!” If the parents, poor or rich, fat or skinny purple or green understand that the tune of their voice is what the district has to dance to, I suppose KSD would be a less hostile place to work in.
    Lastly, it cannot be about the money only. Teachers, soldiers, police and firefighters all have one thing in common, they bend over and say thank you, may I have another, while their eyes are fixated laser straight on their objective. When this gets corrected, the City of Kent should take notice.

  94. veteranteacher Says:

    Vargas makes eight (8) times my salary and I am on the front lines. I have no idea what he does. So far, I haven’t seen or been made aware of much at all. I am not in this for the money, so would settle for status quo on the money. However, the lack of respect and support from people who make WAY more than I do is what sticks. And I’ll bet that Vargas doesn’t have to buy his own desk chair or printer cartridges!

  95. momof3 Says:

    Hey everyone- several of us are organizing a “parent picket” for tomorrow afternoon at the School District Administrative offices. If you haven’t heard, the district has filed a court injunction against the teachers trying to force them to go back to work. We realize that there are two “sides” to this debate, but also feel very strongly that the school district needs to hear from the parents on this. The purpose of this email is not to start a discussion on whether or not you agree with one side or the other, but rather to let you know that this event will be happening and if you would like to join us, we would love to have you!
    WHAT: “Parent Picket”- Parent Rally in Support of Kent Teachers
    WHEN: Wednesday, September 2, 3:00-5:00pm
    WHERE: KSD Administrative Offices (12033 SE 256th St.; Kent)

  96. Auburn Supports KEA Says:

    Kent EA Members,

    You are supported by your fellow educators in Auburn!

    We stand with you in the struggle to attain a reasonable class size that allows students the opportunity to meet the challenging state standards and affords them the ability to have time with their classroom teacher for remediation or extension of learning.

    We stand with you in the fight for manageable caseloads for educators who work with students who have special learning needs and require individualized, unique plans for implementation.

    We stand with you as you bargain a professional work environment including limits to “volunteering” your time to attend endless meetings after the work day has concluded.

    We stand with you as you make a stand for what is right for the students of the Kent School District: smaller class sizes, more individual attention from teachers, and the time within the workday to an provide outstanding educational experience.

    As an Auburn teacher, I will stand with you and walk with you on the picket lines this Friday.

  97. Dedicated and Tired Says:

    Just one more piece of evidence as to how wrong KSD’s approach is: Listen to this sound byte to see what the Bellevue School Board had to say about filing an injunction last year:

    Isn’t there any sensible leadership at KSD? Where is the common sense?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Just want to point out again that this broadcast says that teachers’ strikes are illegal, and KEA believes they are not. (See previous comments for that argument.) Additionally, Bellevue did eventually file an injunction, which was defied by teachers. However, about 36 hours later, a settlement was reached.

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