Candlelight vigil is at ShoWare Center (not earlier park location)

It is looking increasingly unlikely that a tentative contract agreement will be in place Sunday in time for an afternoon KEA contract ratification meeting. Check back for an update after 12 noon at our blog or the e-mail account where you get your bargaining updates. IMPORTANT NOTE: If no agreement is reached by midday, no meeting will be held at Kentlake Sunday afternoon. KEA will instead proceed with our alternate plan, a downtown candlelight vigil.

On the eve of the scheduled start of classes, KEA members will gather Sunday night for an 8 p.m. vigil acknowledging our disappointment that the district has not yet addressed our key issues of overcrowded classes and too many meetings. The vigil, marking our hopes for a speedy and adequate contract settlement, will be on the plaza outside ShoWare Center, 625 West James. Parking is either at the ShoWare Center parking lot or the Park and Ride across the street.

The vigil is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.; the parking lot officially opens at 7 p.m. Note: It’s BYOC! Please bring your own candle with a small paper cup for a wind screen and to catch drips. (We’ll bring some extras, but not nearly enough for everyone.) The more who attend the merrier — KEA families, supporters and community members are welcome!

Negotiators from KEA met all day Saturday and will return to the bargaining table Sunday morning. The district’s proposals continue to offer relatively meaningless changes, similar to what was described in the On The Line negotiations update Friday (i.e., the district agrees to limit “meetings,” but we just won’t consider all the other gatherings meetings any more.) Apparently the Kent School Board does not yet understand the resolve demonstrated by our overwhelming, 1,500-member turnout at our strike vote, or the more than 1,500 members who lined the sidewalks outside the administration building Friday. Overcrowded classes and endless staff meetings are important issues that are harming our students, and the district will need to address them before our contract can be settled. We hope they choose to do it sooner rather than later.

Where’s Vargas? Each day of School Board procrastination will now cause one more day’s delay to the start of school.


31 Responses to “Candlelight vigil is at ShoWare Center (not earlier park location)”

  1. Tom Larsen, KW Says:

    I know some are upset with this notion of a Candlelight Vigil, because they associate this type of event with a tragedy. I say this strike is a tragedy! Are the costs of large class sizes and misguided District priorities not tragically affecting our kids? I sat through Wednesday’s workshop day hearing about how Kentwood’s dropout rate is too high, and how not enough kids are passing the WASL. The tragedy is that our failure to act earlier on these issues of class size and caseload and time and compensation has hurt our students’ education.

    I am on strike because I am morally and ethically bound to help all my students have every opportunity to succeed. I cannot sit by and allow these kids to have their education jeopardized because of poor decisions from central administrators who have never stepped foot in my classroom or met any of my kids– unless they were standing next to them for a photo op. I have tried other avenues to change the system from within.

    I have taken many actions to change a system I believed was broken. I attended all of the teachers’ forums with School Board members to tell them of my concerns. I have been to nearly every School Board meeting in the last two years, and have spoken before them several times. I have written letters to them. I attended the public forum when Dr. Vargas was interviewed. I was not alone in these actions, my colleagues were there with me. Now we are on strike because these actions were not enough to move the KSD’s Administrators to take appropriate action.

    I am attending this vigil because I am in mourning. I’m in mourning for money and opportunities wasted. I’m in mourning for the kids who have suffered through sitting on the floor in my class because I had 40 students and my room only fits 36 desks. If you find this event is not for you, then rest up for the picket line Monday.

    • Julie Says:

      According to Wikipedia:

      “A candlelight vigil is an outdoor assembly of people carrying candles, held after sunset. Such events are typically held either to protest the suffering of some marginalized group of people, or in memory of lives lost to some disease, disaster, massacre or other tragedy. In the latter case, the event is often called a candlelight memorial. A large candlelight vigil will usually have invited speakers with a public address system and may be covered by local or national media.

      Such vigils may also have a religious or spiritual purpose. On Christmas Eve many churches hold a candlelight vigil.”

      I’ll see you there tonight!

    • Anonymous Says:

      All you have done and are doing is appreciated!!!

      I am a parent and also see how the younger children in too large of classes are not getting the education they need. I also see how in the upper schools those large classes are not giving the kids what they need. My son’s geometry class had 30+ students, way too many! Many times my son would email a teacher in the evenings, and guess what – they answered, but it was during their unpaid time. By answering those emails, you helped my son continue what he was doing, rather than give up in frustration. (with a large class, all questions can’t be answered)

      I know there are more issues to be worked out than just class sizes. Some of the issues are surprising to me as it makes me think..what is KSD administration thinking….no boxes and tape to move, lots of meetings (they disregard the needed prep time for classes and that you need to be there for students!)!

      So, thanks again to all you teachers, I support the stand you are taking! KSD and the state need to give teachers and our students much better!
      (by the way, I have written both to the state and KSD (Vargas & the board) in support of teachers / students needs).

      Again, a BIG THANKS from this parent for giving our kids the best you can and taking a stand.

      • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

        Thank you! When you see an administration arguing about boxes and tape for 11 hours, it tells you something about them. And that “something” isn’t good. It’s all about control and micromanaging with this district. That’s evident when they insist on administration control over teacher workshops. Oftentimes, they have workshop agendas that are filled with either irrelevant training, or repetitive training. The latter training being one that should be optional for those teachers who feel they need more information on a certain topic or curriculum.

    • Covington Family Says:

      Tom – Did you really have 40 students in your class all quarter or year long?

    • Yes! We Are United! Says:

      I agree with you Tom. The District and the School Board members have had plenty of time to act on these issues to help teachers and students have the best learning environment possible. Their dismissal of our concerns, as if we were proposing which kind of toilet paper is necessary in our bathrooms) is disrespectful and irresponsible on their part.

      This District is vindictive against those who speak up for justice and common sense solutions to circular problems that affect our kids. Silence the whistleblowers? I think not! Call us liars about our working conditions? Who is really lying here?

      Now the District and Board members have mounted cameras in their Board room. Why? Never mind. I looked fairly good on camera, so film away.

      The vigil signifies hope…hope for a fair contract. It can also mean “in memory of” the days when Kent S.D. was run by intelligent and caring individuals who addressed teachers as the professionals!

      Some of us will go to this vigil to pray. Some of us will go with hope in our hearts. And all of us will be there with our students in mind.

  2. Kent HS Teacher Says:

    Very well done, Tom! I might also note that candlelight vigils are also often used to protest areas of injustice. The situation in our district currently would also fit under that definition.

  3. Covington Family Says:

    Class size matters! I agree that class size does matter, but have you all actually read your union’s class size proposal?

    I’m not sure how this resolves the problem. You get more money if the classes are larger and you are wanting to count ELL and Special Ed students at a higher weighted rate. Sounds like segregation all over again.

    I also feel that a candle light vigil is inappropriate.

    • Love Me Some Boxes and Tape Says:

      I read the proposal, and I am not seeing your connection to segregation. All that contract language means is that ELL or IEP students would be counted on roster as more than one student (1.5). Therefore, if there are 2 ELL and 2 IEP students in a teacher’s class, they would count as 6 students. This was put in place to make sure that the class that those students are in would remain slightly smaller than classes with, say, no ELL or IEP students. The idea is that keeping the class smaller allows teachers to give those students with more needs a little mroe attention in the classroom. Sound idea if you ask me.

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      The point of having to pay for additional students is that it will encourage the district to resolve the problem. If they have no financial disincentive to fix it, odds are that teacher will stay overloaded.
      The point of having special ed and ELL students weighted as more recognizes that those students take more work when they are in your class. I often see teachers from older grades talking to younger grade teachers trying to find reading materials appropriate for that ELL student as well as teachers working with the special ed teacher on how to include that student in the instructional model. A class of 28 English speaking children, non of which are Special Ed is going to be MUCH less time consuming than a class of 28 where you have 3 special ed students, and 10 ELL students with four different languages and 6 different reading levels. I’m not sure how that translates into segregation.

  4. CounterpointSue Says:

    I’ll throw my two cents in on this one. As a Christian, my husband and I are using this opportunity to pray for the children, the teachers, the school district negotiators, and the community of Kent. This will be a prayer vigil for us.

  5. a Kent teacher Says:

    I am one of those people that are on the side that candlelight vigils are for events such as remembering a fallen soldier, a death of a senator, and the Christmas Eve service at church. I would have attended if it was a “hold your sign up high” type of event. From friends and neighbors that I have mentioned this to, most feel the same way. Yes, I will be there Monday in front of my building walking the line.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Call this number to leave a message at district office.

  7. true transparency Says:

    Thank you Tom for stating the facts. You actually taught my daughter when she was in 9th grade (now in college) and I could sense your passion for education when I attended Open House and Parent Teacher Conferences.

    What the residents in the Kent School District and especially the administrators at Central Admin. need to realize that we cannot afford to lose teachers like Tom Larsen. He does what he does because he cares that much about his students and wants them to succeed. There are numerous teachers in the Kent School District that are just like Tom. However, too many get worn down trying to improve and change our very broken system in Kent. Too many of our good educators are leaving the Kent to work in districts that work as partners with the teachers, listen to their concerns, and then take action. Too many of our good educators leave the field all together out of frustration.

    Tom is here to help students and so are the majority of the teachers on strike. Show your support!!

  8. Been Around a Long Time Teacher Says:

    And this is why we wear black on Tuesdays!

  9. Unbelievable Says:

    Class size and less meeting? A few weeks ago teachers were complaining about compensation. What exactly are greedy teachers hoping for. Get over it and get back to work. Doesn’t sound like these greedy teachers really care about kids.

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      I haven’t seen anyone complain about the pay offered, it’s just that the pay doesn’t cover or recover time lost with our own families due to correcting papers at home after school. The pay we get covers the 7.5 hours we spend daily at school, not the 3-5+ hours we spend at home on emails, phone calls, plans, and preparations.

      By the way, I’m so greedy I did this project for the KSD kids I work with. I spent unpaid hours on this, and thanks to Adam Lambert of American Idol and his fans, it got funded. I volunteer too. How much do you volunteer on your job? or in the community?

      Check it out:
      (The district doesn’t the the money, the kids get to use instruments.)

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        So, I hear teachers whining about “doing this on my own time”. Do teachers get paid by the hour, or on they on salary? I’m on salary and do a lot of stuff outside of my “normal work day”….travel (on weekends at times), entertain client dinners in the evenings, attend conference calls outside of my “normal business ours”. It’s part of my job….because I’m on salary. So, I’m sincerely confused. Are teachers on salary, or paid by the hour?

    • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

      Are you for real? LOL.

  10. Concerned Says:

    Since we are not meeting officially today–will KEA let teachers know what the KEA proposal is–the latest one? We were told that KEA prsented a new proposal, but were not told what was in it.

  11. Kent parent Says:

    Vigils are for when someone has died or is missing. Bad idea.

    • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

      I beg to differ. If we move away from the “religious” side of things, and read the post by “Julie” about wikipedia’s definition of a vigil, tonight’s vigil was appropriate.

  12. veteranteacher Says:

    I’ve been on the picket line every day and will be there bright and early tomorrow morning when I’d rather be welcoming my students on the first day of school. I am on the picket line because of the culture in this district that is very disrespectful of teachers. I am on the picket line because I think we can do better for our students. I am on the picket line because I think that our district has lost sight of what it has been charged with and has not been a good steward of the public funds it has been entrusted with.
    However, I cannot attend the vigil for the reasons many others will not be there also. Candlelight vigils are reserved in my mind for GREAT human tragedies, for senseless deaths, for violent acts, the gravity of which most of us who have not experienced these things do not understand. To equate our strike with these acts, is to diminish human tragedies that are entirely different in nature. I think that a strike is an appropriate act to protest the lack of a fair labor contract. A vigil is not.

  13. Len Dawson Says:

    It’s hard to keep supporting the union when they truly are standing up for totally legitimate requests in the areas of class size, time, compensation, etc. and then turn around and pull stunts like this that just come off as horribly misguided. Wearing black? Candlelight vigils? These are bad ideas and make the union look petty and juvenille. Would you ever tell your students to handle a conflict like that? Of course not. We are standing up for good reasons and right demands in the contract – let’s not paint ourselves so negatively with these antics.

    • Julie Says:

      Would I ever tell students to gather peacefully in times of struggle to find support from family and friends? A peaceful demonstration? I think I would. And I think it’s been done before in history…

  14. Angie Says:

    I hope that all the teachers who voted for a strike actually read the contract. In my own experience, most people who agree to strike are like sheep. They listen to the voices that speak the loudest. I don’t want sheep teaching my kids. I read the contract and saw the changes. What are you disagreeing with now? Do you truly know? I don’t want to sound insensitive because I have a high regard for our teachers. I think most of you are worth your weight in gold. Also why a candlelight vigil. Seems like a waste of you time.

    • Really Angie Says:

      I can speak for all the teachers at my school that we know what was in the contract or better yet we know what was not in it. Are you for real! You obviously do not understand the impact high class sizes have on your own child’s education.

      The candlelight vigil . . . waste of my time . . . no way! If it was a waste of my time then I don’t think very highly of the students I teach! The teachers are striking for every student in the Kent School District. Our children deserve more than the district is willing to give.

      If we were like sheep, we would have accepted the contract – but apparently we do not follow because we want a better contract that is better for kids!

  15. momof3 Says:

    While I totally support our teachers, I think the candle light vigil was out of line. I have to say I was shocked when I heard that was going to be happening. A better idea needed to be worked out. It came across as totally dramatic and over the top. Next time plan a rally or something.

    • Mom of 3 also Says:

      I think the KSD is out of line. It seems like their is so much criticism about what an evening event is called. It was a great event. It wasn’t dramatic or over the top! You should have been there and then you would have seen . . . Teachers, parents and students supporting each other TOGETHER! It was another way to show unity and support, and another way to tell the district they need to step up and do what is right for students. Let’s try to stick to the main issues – smaller class sizes, less meetings, more time with teachers!

      Thanks to all who were there to show support for KENT STUDENTS!

  16. Mom of 3 also Says:

    Oops – apologize about the typo. It seems like there . . .

  17. Mom of 3 also Says:

    Oops- apologize for yet another typo. Let”s try to stick to the main issues – smaller class, less meetings, more time with STUDENTS (not teachers).

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