No School Monday in Kent

Kent teachers are saddened to announce that no tentative contract agreement is in place. The district continues to refuse to meaningfully negotiate solutions to the issues that sparked this strike: over-crowed classes and too many administrative meetings that rob our teachers’ time with students. As a result, we have no contract on which to vote, and KEA will NOT meet this afternoon for a general membership meeting.

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. 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!

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? What happened to the leadership in Kent Schools? Each day of School Board procrastination will now cause one more day’s delay to the start of school.

Picketing will resume at individual schools across Kent Monday morning.


162 Responses to “No School Monday in Kent”

  1. Barbara Says:

    If anyone would like to carpool out of Enumclaw, we can take 3 or 4 additional people and would leave around 7:20 or so.

  2. theresa Says:

    I want to get back to work! I can’t wait to see the 38 smiling faces scheduled to greet me in my second period class.
    Why don’t we have a contract to vote on? Why didn’t we have a contract to vote on when we met on August 26?
    Why does KSD continue to disrespect us? Where is the leadership? The district doesn’t have any sense of urgency for school to begin.
    I am so disappointed in the school board. They held listening sessions and heard from teachers about their concerns and their workload last year. They saw over 100 teachers at their meeting four times last year (once we had 200). They knew we took a vote to strike if we didn’t have a contract last June. What do they do? They continue to “drink the koolaid” that the district gives them.
    KSD has dragged their feet, only meet with our bargaining team 5 times before calling an impasse in mid August. Refused to consider our bargaining proposals that they deemed “not a serious offer”. The school board needed to push the administration for a quick resolution to our demands. They needed to take a leadership role.
    And our new superintendent, Lee Vargas, who is being paid $240,000 a year (more than Joe Biden, vice president of the United States of America)can’t seem to answer questions involving the strike without his trusty PR gal Becky Hanks. Where’s Vargas? He is no where to be found. He calls us his partners and yet he doesn’t even communicate with us. He doesn’t understand the issues. He doesn’t seem to understand that he needs to step up, take a leadership role, and help get this contract resolved quickly.
    We need to that kind of leadership at the KSD.
    And here we sit…tomorrow is supposed to be the first day of school. I am supposed to be worrying about what to wear, what jokes to tell, what games we’ll play. Normally, I make a mad dash for the mall to buy a new outfit for the first day of school. Instead I’m going out to buy a candle for the rally tonight at ShoWare Center at 8 p.m. I hope you’ll join us.

    • Covington Family Says:

      According to the Kent website, you did have a contract to vote on August 26th.

      • theresa Says:

        No, the contract was not accepted by our bargaining team. It failed to address the issues of time (less meetings) and workload (class size and workload). These issues have continuously been ignored or rejected by the KSD bargaining team.
        I should also tell that this 40 page document was presented to our bargaining team 15 minutes before the end of mediation that day, only a couple of hours before our vote. It was basically the first contract they presented to us that our bargaining team rejected in June.
        KSD refuses to treat us with respect. They continue to change figures and lie to the public. We really want to get the word out but how can we compete with robo-dialing, the imformagent (they used to use that system to tell folks when there wasn’t school due to snow or wind but now use it to promote their inaccurate web site
        We did not vote to reject their contracts. Our members voted to accept a contract that showed us respect and concern for our issues- time, workload, compensation- or to strike. We did that in June.
        When our bargaining team who is representing the members feels that we have a viable and fair contract, then we will vote on it.
        We just proposed a contract with several concessions in it to the KSD bargaining team and they have yet to act on it. But you don’t know that because KSD doesn’t tell you that. We want a fair contract and we want to get back to work. Tomorrow would be nice!

  3. Fourth Grade Teacher Says:

    I find it interesting that Grass Lake posted their class lists last Thursday. A friend of mine called me upset because there where 34 students on the roster for her son’s fifth grade class. In addition there where over 30 + in 6th grade as well.

    Mysteriously those class lists have all been changed since last Thursday. She reports now that there multiple blended classes all under 30.

    Just goest to show how far the district will go to “show the public” that are class sizes are not all that bad. My guess is they didn’t want to have the public see that large numbers. Hmmm….I wonder why? I wonder if the 35 students in the two EP park 6th grade classes have mysteriously dissapeared.

    • isntthatthepoint? Says:

      Sorry but don’t we want lower class sizes? I don’t care if they do it “show the public” or to win a prize or just because its the right thing to do. The point is that they do it. I am just saying we can’t become so jadded that we stop seeing a good thing when it happens.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      Teacher, could you please call the KEA office and make sure they know this? Sue

    • Anonymous Says:

      LOL – You are correct as I saw it all happen, the huge before lists, no lists and the after lists, There are multiple split classes now and numbers in the upper grades hovering around 28 + / -. Some call it a shell game, some call it smoke and mirrors, but I call it just plain several years of poor administration from the state and KSD administration. I am not fooled or satisfied by what is happening!

      We have more students who have unique learning needs now and those class numbers are still too high. Also split classes are a cheaper way to assign kids to a class and not worry about getting another teacher – they are still not getting the education they need. In addition, workload is an issue…well, I hope Dr. Vargas realizes split classes are EXTRA work! Also, another “adult” in the class is not the answer either, the students need the teachers time and expertise.

      KSD really needs to get serious about class sizes and the composition of each class too (mixed, ELL, special ed. etc.) – this is at all schools Elementary, Middle and High School. You teachers speak the truth about all going on and these are not new issues! I support our teachers!

      A parent who is also frustrated that problems known for years were never solved!

    • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

      I believe that all our classes should have 25 or less students. We could do so much more if our class sizes were reasonable. Imagine how much more time PER student we would have!!

    • michelle Says:

      The same thing happened at Pine Tree. The class lists were posted, then removed saying that they were being revised and would be reposted on the 31st. I find that interesting. I wonder how many other schools this as happend too.

  4. Evanna Johnson Says:

    My family and I will be at the vigil tonight. As much as I wish my daughter was going to school tomorrow, we all appreciate your stand and still back you up wholeheartedly. I checked the KSD website and saw a little monotone speech from Vargas. This is the first thing I have seen from him since this whole thing started. Will there be teachers picketing in from of KM or Phoenix? Would like to offer our support, prayers, and best wishes to all teachers in Kent. Stay strong, continue to stand for what you believe in. My oldest daughter is in her 2nd year of lteaching in Chicago! Why Chicago, when she was raised here in Kent? She attended NO, PL, SQJR, and KM. She graduated from Western. But when she started looking for jobs in Kent, and spoke with a friend from Chicago, the difference in pay was ridiculous. And this is at an Inner city school.
    So, I support you, and my family supports you.

    • teachers are not the enemy Says:

      Thanks Evanna. I am grateful for people like you.

    • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

      Teachers will be picketing in front of their own schools tomorrow.

      I would encourage a huge group of parents (no teachers) to form their own picket line in front of the admin building. …each day that their children are out of school.

      Thanks for your support. Thanks for seeing the truth.

  5. question Says:

    When this gets settled, and we all agree at some point it will and hopefully somewhat to everyone’s satisfaction, what will be the approxmate notification for school to begin. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a vote at 7 pm, then school starting the next day but I also would think school starts soon after the vote. I’m figuring 24-48 hours notice, is that reasonable?

  6. Barbara Says:

    I just received a lovely voice msg from Dr. Vargas himself. Why is it he can tell me (as a parent) that KSD has offered a 3% (average) pay increase in year 1 and 1.5 in year 2? Can someone from KEA explain what this is coming from? (I’m calling “hogwash” on the idea and would like further explanation).

    He also mentioned that they have addressed time by reducing mtgs and increasing teacher collaboration time. I’m sorry, by only mandating 1 – 50 minute staff meeting a week in middle schools, he neglected to say that numerous other meetings can still take place (curriculum leaders, SST, IEP’s, departments, etc…).

    And finally, he mentioned they have offered extra support and IA time in grades 5 and 6 if classes are more than 29…Two problems with this…1) The work still needs to be done w/ 29+ kids (IA or not)….and 2) What about the rest of us in grades K through 4 and 7-12? Why is it that my friends in high schools have 35+ and it’s not a problem?

    Cheers to the bargaining team for all your hard work and TIME…I, for one, stand behind you. I will rally my troops tomorrow back on the line and stand united in support of our issues of Time, Workload and Compensation!

  7. Aileen Says:

    I want you all to stay on strike past election day.

    Christine Gregoire is a Democrat. Patty Murray is a Democrat. Maria Cantwell is a Democrat. Most State Representatives (except Riechert) are Democrats. Jim Berrios is a Democrat. Bill Boyce is a Democrat. Edward Lee Vargas is a Democrat.

    Yes, Republicans have been unsympathetic. However can you really say that democrats have been sympathetic, supportive, or kept their promises to the 1700 teachers in Kent?

    Yes, teachers want and should be able to educate their students. But now, after 100 years without a strike, teachers have their backs against the wall. It is not about salaries – at least not about teachers’ salaries – or about the Union, or really even about class sizes. This strike is about the fact that the State has reduced the available financial pie by twenty percent, and instead of asking the Directors and administrators to reduce their compensation by twenty percent, the School Board is asking the teachers – who earn less money and do more work (yes, I’m biased) – to shoulder all of that burden.


    The teachers have a chance to show the politicians that the politicians have become too greedy and too powerful and are failing to represent the teachers. The first step has been taken – now the children, and the teachers, must bear the cost of the politicians’ failure to lead.

    Please stay out. Please don’t compromise. Please insist that Vargas be removed, and replaced by someone who can lead instead of speaking about leadership. Please do not let Jim Berrios collect a victory, and political office, on the backs of the teachers.

    Thank you, and please work together to restore Kent School District to its former prominence.

    • Sheri Says:

      Well said. I support the teachers stickcing to their principles as long as it takes. I’ve not been impressed with the District’s actions so far.

    • DEADLIFTT Says:

      In light of the upcoming elections I think it’s important to point out that Mr. Berrios is a Republican. I have heard he has represented himself otherwise several times for this campaign. He has been very involved in pushing Washington as a tip credit state (think about that when you discuss wages)..definately not an issue any democrat would tackle.

  8. Kent parent Says:

    First off, I support the teachers in standing up for our kids- you know your classrooms and your workload best and I trust that you didn’t pick your profession for the “glory” so stand strong for kids and we’ll continue to support you. I would, however, like to mention two things. First, like “question” who posted a short time ago, I am interested in practical information- like how much time will we get between a contract being agreed on/signed and the date that school starts? Second, I support the idea of an evening event to raise awareness about the strike but wish that it weren’t a candlelight vigil- it seems to me that those are usually reserved for grave tragedies, such as missing children or unexpected deaths. Another type of public showing would have been preferable. Thanks for listening.

    • Teacher Says:

      As far as how quickly we get back to work after a settlement, I guess that depends. When Issaquah settled their strike at 6:50am, school started that day (but then again, they’d been on strike for 19 school days). The difficulty here is that I’m guessing most teachers haven’t set up their rooms at all, so starting the same day would be a challenge. This is typically part of the back to work agreement with the district, and I’d guess the bargaining team would seek one work day prior to school starting.

  9. Answer Says:

    Sure would think that students would start school even if the vote was at 7 am. Certain the students would start that day. Too bad teachers wont have time to set up their rooms.

  10. Confused Says:

    I am confused as to why there is going to be a vigil this evening. Not the correct way to draw attention to the issues. I believe this is completely inappropriate, and a waste of time. There are many other ways of gathering and taking a position on any issue, and I hope that “IF” there is a next time this will be taken into consideration more carefully.

    Also, I am sad that no agreement has been made as of yet. But I am also disappointed in that many people blame the administration so heavily when this issue is not only theirs to own. As some have stated, changes will snowball, and ultimately take a toll on the tax payers. Not such a good idea considering our state of the economy. Please also remember, top administrators are paid higher wages as they are in positions to better the districts they are responsible for. Yes, teachers weigh heavily into molding our future leaders, but the administrators have to run our district (currently) as a business factoring in all pros and cons, tough job and they will never make everyone happy. Lets just find a common ground everyone can live with.

    My sons school has been over crowded (although not grossly) for some time. However, all it takes is a bit more effort on the parents part to make our childrens education that much more successful. Crestwood teachers are always willing to work with the parents. Email, call, conference and they find a way to make it work, because they recognize the parents involvement will make for more successful outcomes.

    • parent Says:

      Well put. I would also like to say that I am questioning my decision to enroll my children in the Kent School District. As a parent of twins entering kindergarten, I have watched their disappointment in their first brush with public education. They were excited to start school. The great tragedy in all of this seems to be that a lot of people from both sides are most interested in pointing fingers and laying blame. My kids are missing out. No one can tell them any differently.

  11. Covington Family Says:

    Again, I ask, how does the KEA’s proposal for class size actually lower class size or benefit students? As a community member with kids in the schools, I am concerned that you are telling the public you want the District to lower class size, but your proposal does not address class size. It just asks for more money! The KEA class size proposal even asks to ignore parent requests for conferences. How does this benefit students.

    So tell me, how does your proposal address class size?

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      It does address class size. The money aspect is essentially a fine if the district allows classes to stay big. Otherwise, they can have those extra students in the classes but have no disincentive for doing so. It also helps compensate the teacher who has the additional workload with those students.

    • CedarValleyParent Says:

      Hi Covington Family,
      The KEA proposal does request more money for the teacher in the event the class is not made smaller. Of course, it’s less expensive to pay the teacher a little more than actually make two classes of 16 from one class of 32. So, the net effect to the students is no change. The teacher will make more money for the bigger class. Of course, the KEA spins it to the public that they are fighting for smaller class sizes. A small group of us know this not to be the case.
      Your second point, I think is just the wrong interpretation of a poorly worded proposal. I believe the KEA means to say that a conference is not necessary if the parent requests to not have the conference. As unfortunate as it is, not all parents want to meet with their child’s teacher.

    • Bawbert Says:

      To Covington Family

      Page 1 of the KEA proposal that you have linked in your statement addresses class size and nowhere in the document does it mention compensation. It talks exclusively about workload and class size.

      In regard to the August 26th proposal from KSD, it is the exact same proposal presented to us on July 23 via e mail by Dr. Vargas. It was an eleventh hour offer in order to tell parents that an offer was made. at no time was a “new” offer made. It’s much like advising a student that the essay they wrote needs certain improvements and then they hand in the exact same essay. It still doesn’t make the grade, so to speak.

      • CedarValleyParent Says:

        To Bawbert:
        See Page 2 of the KEA Proposal. As mentioned in previous post, when faced with creating one class of 32 or two classes of 16, the less expensive route is to keep the class of 32 and increase that teacher’s pay. Net result: Students will see no change in class size, teachers will receive no relief in workload, but teachers will go home with a bigger paycheck.

        “Time Limit
        When a class size limit has been exceeded, the District will make reasonable effort to reduce class size to, or below the contractual limit within twenty-one (21) calendar days. If class size is not reduced to, or below, the stated contractual limit within twenty-one (21) days, the teacher will be compensated with payment of $2.00 per student per period per day in secondary schools, and $10 per student per day in elementary schools. Such payment will be retroactive to the first day the contractual limit is exceeded, and will continue until class size is reduced to or below the stated contractual limit.”

      • DISGUSTED Parent Says:

        This comment deleted for violating blog policies. I ask that you retype your comment without resorting to personal attacks, name calling, etc. There were some legitimate points/questions you made that I would love to have on the blog. I have been asked by members to be more vigilant in deleting these types of comments, so this goes for everyone reading the blog, whether you are for us, against us, or neutral.

    • rupert Says:

      With this proposal you have to look at the long term effects. For this year there may not be many immediate, earth-shaking changes in class size because the district is not prepared/nor willing to hire more teachers.

      However, once the district begins to see how much extra money they end up paying their current teaching staff, you better believe changes will be implemented for next year! Suddenly rooms will become available, and more staff will be hired to accomodate the need for smaller class sizes.

      This type of proposal has been bargained in other districts and the results take about a year to see.

      It may look like it’s all about the money, but it’s actually an effort to get the district to change.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I challenge the readers of this blog to look to the contracts of neighboring districts for class size language, and compare it to Kent’s. KEA’s proposals are based upon what many neighboring districts have, along with considerations of what our financial analyst has determined the District can afford (by looking for hidden money and slush funds in the budget), and what the needs are in this District. Any District in the area that does not have strong class size language is watching Kent closely, and is hoping to use whatever we negotiate as a model for their proposals, if their members identify class size is important to them.

        If you find any class size language from other Districts, please add a comment with a link to the language and the name of the District in question.

  12. MultipleStakeholder Says:

    I got a recorded phone call from “our superintendent” tonight, and I am finally furious.

    I am a part-time KSD teacher. I am a KSD parent. But I also work for other school districts, etc. I have access to info others don’t. I’ve been “centrist” because I work “on both sides of the fence.”

    As a parent, I need school to start for my kids. As a teacher, I need the district to get its act together and MOVE. As a union member, I need the union to push a settlement… but realize KSD’s issues are a tangled web, and we need to stay on top of it for longer than just Now.

    But as a parent, I am APPALLED at the propaganda auto-call I got tonight from the school district. I am an “unusual employee” and I have been “walking the line,” trying to honor both sides’ opinions– since I am on both sides. But the auto-call tonight is pushing me to lose faith in our administration. It was offensive, misleading, and dishonest.

    Teachers: hang tight. Read everything. Stick together.

    KSD: get it together. Quit punishing us and quit dissembling. Help us open school. NO TEACHER wants school to start late. Not one.

    KEA: settle carefully, quickly as possible… but keep your eyes open throughout the year. There are too many issues to deal with right this moment.

    And fellow parents: stay informed from as many sources as possible. This strike is the product of years of conflict, hidden political agendas, and opaque policy. It’s not “just about money.” It’s about our kids’ education– and we deserve school to get rolling.

    • Split/Combo Grade Reality Says:

      THANK you for your unique, powerful perspective, I’ve worked in other nearby districts as an elementary teacher and still can not believe how the KSD and Board remain adamant about not supporting a more child centered policy of MORE time for teachers and staff to work with KSD students in reasonably sized classrooms and wit a cap on case loads. The compensation issue should be a no brainer for KSD – they have plenty of $$$- I’ve been to the board/budget meetings and research the public record. We are only asking them to REALLOCATE these funds.

    • New to Kent Too Says:

      I am also Kent Teacher and a parent of a student in the Kent School District. The call infuriated me; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    • Sheri Says:

      Well said. I, too, thought it was inappropriate and slanderous.

  13. M Says:

    I am being forced to take a 3-5% paycut to help my employer balance the budget, and it will be greater next year. People are losing their jobs. And you guys are turning down a 3% INCREASE in pay? I guess they don’t teach logic any more in the schools……

    • Very Frustrated Says:

      We turned down that package because of the many unacceptable strings attached, not because of the money. We also turned it down because it did not address our issues of Time and Workload which for most of us are much more important than the Compensation aspect. Also, when was the last time you had a COLA in your paycheck, prior to the economic downturn? I’m betting you had quite a few since the teachers last got one.

      • CedarValleyParent Says:

        When was the teacher’s last pay increase, COLA or otherwise? I’m asking merely out of my effort to be an informed citizen during this crisis. Many of us in the private sector do not get COLA’s. I actually had to look up the term a week ago because I had never heard of it. So, though I have no supporting data, just my own experience, I don’t think a lot of us receive cost of living adjustments.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        So, if the district didn’t give you the salary increase, but gave you everything else, would that be acceptable?

      • rupert Says:

        Why are you trying to bait teachers with a question like that?

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Because I want to know what the REAL issue is. They are naive if they think they are going to get everything they ask for, so something’s going to have to give. Just curious what it is. if they get classroom and meeting concessions, but not salary, is that enough? Conversely, if they get salary, and, say…meeting concession, but not class size, is that enough?

      • kteach Says:

        I will say that, personally, I wouldn’t want to sign a contract that gave me the biggest raise of my life, if it meant kids had to suffer the class sizes they did last year. What I really want is to be able to do my job well.

        Seeing as how members of the union are individuals, however, I know that many people DO find the pay raise as important as the lowered class sizes. Many of us have spouses out of work. When you become the only bread-winner on a teacher salary, things can look a bit scary, as I know many community members can identify with. The biggest frustration is that we haven’t had a reasonable cost of living increase in years and years (since well before the recession began). As a side note, I’ll say that I got paid MORE in Missouri, where cost of housing was HALF of what it is here.

        What we do is very important and requires a LOT of education at our own expense, and yes, sometimes, although we love our jobs and knew “what we were getting into” from the start, we feel under appreciated. Just because the job is EXPECTED to be a nightmare with measly pay doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be that way. We have a chance right now to make Kent schools better by lowering class sizes, giving teachers enough time to do their jobs, and raising pay to attract highly qualified teachers to our district.

        I want to go back to my classroom knowing that we’ve done everything we could to get a contract that will benefit first the students, who are the reason we got into this field to begin with, and second the teachers, counselors and specialists, who are there with me every day giving of themselves and trying to make a positive difference in kids’ lives.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        Personally and most of my colleagues that I’ve talked to, yes, we would accept such a package. With the furious amount of disrespect being shown to us by the district, however, I’m not sure what the feeling is anymore.
        I’m not entirely sure, but I know it’s been awhile. I have not received one in the three years I’ve been in the district. I will try and find the information for you.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        CV Parent –
        In 2000, the state voted to give the teachers a COLA but that funding was later suspended by the legislator in 2003.

  14. Northwood Mom Says:

    When school finally starts back, these teachers are going to want some support and many of us who have done so through the years are losing total respect for them. When we are all not getting raises I find it hard to respect people who are getting 3%…how about you forgo those to help pay for some new colleagues to lower those class sizes. Many of your students’ parents are getting pay CUTS. Staff Appreciation is the one committee at Northwood that I will NOT be volunteering for this year.

    • Former Kent teacher Says:

      Northwood mom,

      I can understand the frustration at this inconveniently timed strike, but I can assure you that the teachers on strike are equally frustrated. I think that it seems reasonable for you to request teachers to forgo the 3% raise in return for some of their other demands. From my view of the situation, I think that there are a few reasons why that isn’t happening.

      I perceive the 3% raise offered by the district as the spoonful of sugar that “helps the medicine go down.” The 3% raise that was offered was packaged with contract changes that were unacceptable to the union bargaining team. I don’t think any Kent teachers were expecting a raise this year, but they *were* hoping that the district would make changes in other areas of the contract, like adding class size limits and limiting meetings.

      Another reason why the district is offering the raise is because it knows that the Kent School District is not competitive with other area school districts in terms of pay. If they don’t increase teacher compensation, then there will be no reason for good teachers to choose to work in the Kent schools. Good teachers are always in demand, and why would a teacher looking for a job choose Kent instead of the same job in a different district that has significantly better pay and fewer meetings?

      As a teacher who left the Kent School District this year, I know that the reality is that the KEA bargaining team is fighting for changes to the contract that already exist in many districts. In order for Kent to retain the hardworking teachers it already has and attract new one, changes are needed. I just wish that the district was showing the same sense of urgency that I know all parents are feeling.

      Even though I’m now an outsider viewing this situation, I sincerely hope that this strike is resolved very quickly so school can begin, and teachers, students, and parents alike can have a great school year!

    • Sheri Says:

      Northwood Mom~
      I, for one, will not be “losing total respect” for the teachers. If you are staying informed by all sides, you will see that it is NOT just about a 3% pay increase. As a parent of KSD students, it is my desire that teachers LOVE the district they work for and LOVE their jobs. Human nature is such that if you take care of your employees, for the most part, they will perform above and beyond for you. While I recognize that every district has poor teachers that may not have those ethics, generally speaking, I think teachers are in the profession b/c they love kids, love teaching and want to be part of a team that feels the same way.

  15. How do you sleep at night? Says:

    Dear Becky Hanks,

    I saw your comments on the news Sunday night, and I have to wonder, how do you sleep at night?

    How do you sleep at night knowing that each interview you do, you participate in creating a larger and larger web of lies surrounding the KSD administration, and a wider and wider chasm between teachers and the KSD? As the community spokesperson, shouldn’t you at least pretend that you are trying to unite us?

    How do you sleep at night knowing that everytime you talk about the teachers of KSD you speak with such condescension and disdain for the very people who are the backbone of the KSD. Your acerbic tone of voice makes it clear that you are there to demean and demoralize teachers. Nothing about what you say, or how you say it, comes across to the public as having a shred of decency or honesty on your part.

    Over the past few weeks, you have expressed how you are disappointed in the choices teachers have made, while showing no genuine hope for good relations between the district and the teachers. You have claimed that the KSD has been striving to be transparent and has been bargaining in good faith, when you know very well that the KSD has been neither of those. You represent a district who fails at every attempt to clear up their tarnished image….one of a district with misplaced fiscal values and a district which values its administrative staff more than those in the classroom.

    Tonight, you told more lies….claiming that the KSD had addressed the issues that the KEA has stated have not been addressed by the district. How do you expect teachers and the community to believe what you are saying when we know that these negotiations began in the spring and KSD made sucha minimal attempt to meet with KEA’s bargaining team? The package proposals KSD has set forward have been those of the “all or nothing” variety…any intelligent person would see that those were only put out there to make the KEA look bad when they rejected it because you did not address the core issues KEA is fighting for. Do not feign being bothered that people are saying that KSD is not addressing the issues of time and workload when KSD offers proposals with insignificant changes and loopholes one can drive a truck through…because as each day goes by, more and more of the community is becoming informed and seeing that your attempts to trick them have been futile. I know your job is basically the community relations person, but your “can’t be bothered with this” demeanor and general insincerity makes me more and more want to join the picketing teachers in their justified fight.

    Of all the parties involved, YOU are TRANSPARENT…because I can see right through you.

    • Kentlake Parent Says:

      Earlier, I read that we are not to “slam” people, call people names, etc. What are you doing to Becky Hanks in this blog? Why was your comment not deleted? Oh, hmmmm…..that’s right…’re a teacher and not a frustrated parent or community member!!

      I would like to know how you sleep at night when we have had employees cut at the admin campus…..classified employees who have been basically been “demoted” from Admin Assistant IV to Admin Assistant III? That is a cut in pay for those employees. What about the employees who have worked for many years in one department and have now been “bumped” to another department or even a 10 month or 9 month position? The district did this so that the TEACHERS could have more money.

      So, tell me, how can you sleep at night when you have more money in your pocket and these employees are now struggling to make ends meet?

      Kentlake Parent

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Answer is, I haven’t been sleeping, so I read your comments, which gets me worked up, so I sometimes write respoonses. Some of these responses are written to clarify issues, answer questions, or simply to point out when a comment is of particular interest. Occasionally it also becomes an opportunity for me, like all other users of this blog, to vent. As I said before, it is a heated issue, and sometimes emotions get the better of all of us. I’m doing my best to make sure from here on out that EVERYONE is a little more respectful.

        With that being said, know that KEA believes that the vast majority of cuts were unnecessary, and that the KSD made these cuts to project the illusion that they were in dire financial straights, while at the same time protecting the pet projects that do little to help kids, but do a lot to make some Admin look good. KEA did not make those cuts, the KSD did. The District is very happy that you paint the picture with the colors they supplied you and the outline they drew for you, which is that all of KSD’s woes are due to these “greedy teachers.” You, my friend, are being used.

  16. Response Says:


    In answer to you questions, yes, the offer of pay increases for year 1st and 2nd year teachers is accurate. However, it was specifically targeted mostly at first year teachers for the somewhat obvious reason that there are so few of them around this year. Remember all the teacher layoffs happening last Spring? There aren’t many first year or second year teachers around right now! This is basically a pay increase for nobody. Also, even if there were significant numbers of teachers who benefited from that increase, it would not follow them up the pay scale, i.e. it would not apply in their third year of experience.

    Regarding reducing meetings, consider the definition of “meeting.” If staff meetings are not considered a meeting, then the one-per-week rule is basically a limitation on nothing, since any meeting can be considered except.

  17. RE: one the edge of Auburn Says:

    I AGREE with this individual. Where is the outcry from the Parents! I have not seen it. WHY aren’t the parents picketing in front of the administration building!
    These administrators control our childrens education and we need to hold them accountable for the positions that we all elected them to do.
    I hope you all remember that come election time!

  18. private citizen Says:

    Can anyone answer these questions….

    Does Vargas live within the KSD? How much of his salary is going towards his daughters college education? Is he looking out for YOUR children or his own childrens education?

    Why has Vargas moved around so much?

    Why aren’t the teachers demanding that their union request an internal investigation (contact the WA state auditor ) ?here is the link for you parents.

    Than we can find our where our tax $$ goes that Beck Hanks says is not there for our classroom.

  19. Greg MacPherson Says:

    I have a question – totally off topic – regarding lunches and ESL.

    Why is the National Education Association in Washington DC not lobbying for enforcement of the Federal immigration laws to reduce or eliminate the increased influx of foreign students into the American educational system?

    American citizens are REQUIRED to read, speak, write, and understand English, so why is there a “minority – majority” population and why is there a requirement for ESL at all?

    Can someone please explain to me how the Union can justify tolerating the continued influx of illegal immigrants into the United States when those immigrants, and their children, continue to clog up the school systems, creating additional burdens, costs, and requirements for local school districts, all the while being in violation of existing United States laws?

    Is it possible that the Union actually benefits from the increased class sizes – at the teachers’ expense?

    If costs are an issue, then look at what generates those costs, and correct the root cause of the problem instead of demanding more money for programs that shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

    Yes, I know – I’ll get flamed for this one, but honestly where is the union? If they are supposed to be battling for the teachers, then perhaps it is not too much to ask that they should be taking on the Federal government to require the government to ENFORCE ITS OWN LAWS?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:


      Your question is totally off topic and not appropriate to this forum, which is about Kent issues. KEA is certainly part of the larger National Education Association, but the issues you raise are about legal matters outside of the realm of the current contract negotiations and strike. I think it is certainly worth discussion, but we would point you to the Washington Education Association (WEA) or National Education Association (NEA), which has discussion threads on this or related topics. In the future, please limit your comments to the realm of Kent School District and the current contract issues.


      KEA Blogger

  20. Clarified Says:

    How do you sleep at night?

    Becky Hanks sleeps quite well thank you very much with her $101,542 salary and her $23,297 benefits package (2007 figures).

    How well will you sleep at night after you lose your home because you cannot pay your mortgage, while Vargas, Berrios, and the rest of them continue to bank their compensation?

    Bill Boyce, Chris Davies, Jim Berrios, Debbie Straus, and whoever replaces Sandy Collins are ELECTED OFFICIALS accountable to you. Why are they not doing what YOU want?

    Demand across the board salary reductions for all administrators, from Vargas on down, in line with Governor Gregoire’s announced budget reductions.

    • CedarValleyParent Says:

      I am not sure why you would bring up Hanks salary, but just to keep all of us informed. The union president, Lisa Breckin-Johnson’s total annual salary in the 2007-2008 school year was $125,565 with a $10,459 in benefits. She is the 7th highest paid person in the District.

      • theresa Says:

        If only dreams came true…wouldn’t it be cool if a union president could make that much money? And a classroom teacher?
        You have been misled. I asked our fearless leader, Lisa Brackin-Johnson, how much she made and this is what she said, “I only wish I got that much! I’m guessing that they got the salary info from a website that supposedly lists all teacher salaries. No one seems to know where they got the information.
        I get the same salary as any Kent teacher with 20 years of experience and a MA+45 and a small stipend as president. The stipend is a little more than I would make as a department head and debate coach. ”
        Sadly, you have been misled. Sorry to disappoint you. She is not the 7th highest paid person in the district…

      • Wondering Says:

        Lisa, as a paying member of the KEA and a strike supporter I would appreciate your response to this since the highest teacher base salary in this district is $64,531. Thank you.

      • On the Edge of Auburn Says:

        Your figures are way off base. Did you get them from EFF? If so, that explains it. If you got it from a KSD administrator, way off base again. Lisa only makes what she would have as a teacher in the classroom with the credits and experience of a 20 year teacher.

        Here’s the catch: Lisa EARNS HER PAY.

    • How do you sleep at night? Says:

      Agreed! Not a single one of them has offered to take a pay cut. I guess they are quite willing to keep their cushy salaries that they managed to steal from the taxpayer before this all fell out. Shame on them!

    • Kentwood Parent Says:

      Are you kidding me? The Union is spouting constantly (interestingly, something the District isnt ALLOWED TO DO) about salaries, and the person doing so makes more than 2.5 times as much as the average paid teacher? KEA has repeatedly stated how much the district is paying out to try to keep parents informed.. how much has the KEA spent? How much for all the strike signs? I’d like to know why we cant get information on the other side and are ONLY hearing from the Union.

      And also, I would like to know why there was no vote called on the latest contract offer? Why arent teachers being allowed to voice their opinion? Seems to me in this serious of a situation (children being uneducated) teachers would be given the right to accept or deny. I’ve heard from 7 teachers that they were hoping to vote on the latest offer and havent been given the opportunity. To me this says that the Union is running this WHOLE show and this really has little to do with my teachers.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Wow. A lot there that you are assuming based upon rumor to clear up. A couple of things need to be addressed about your post:

        First, KEA pays for all of its activities through the dues of its members, as well as money and services offered by the WEA and NEA. There is no requirement that a the union needs to publicize its salaries or budget info in the way that a government agency like the Kent School District does. All salaries or other budgetary information KEA uses as part of its negotiations are in the public record, and are considered fair game in the negotiation process. KEA members can ask to review KEA finances at any time. Members can call KEA’s office or stop by if they have questions about the budget. (Be nice to Madelyn!) On the other hand, KSD finances its anti-union propaganda with your tax dollars. This includes things like paying overtime for office workers to stuff envelopes with anti-union letters or getting student interns to create to post their strike claims. They also have Becky Hanks, a full-time District Spokesperson paid for from your tax dollars to speak for the District. The District is “ALLOWED” to post any salary info about KEA elected leadership they wish because they are paid teachers’ salaries, which are public record that you can feel free to look up. The bottom line is that while the KSD has a full time public relations department and access to the home addresses, phone numbers, and emails of all parents, the vast majority of KEA’s communications and activities related to organizing for this strike have been done by KEA members who volunteer their time because they believe in KEA’s actions. (I am one of those people.)

        Second, despite what was posted on a comment earlier, Lisa Brackin-Johnson, the President of KEA, is paid her normal teacher’s salary plus benefits while she is on full time release as the KEA President. (Smaller districts often have a part-time President. Kent’s size as the fourth largest district makes the job full-time.) If Lisa was to see the claims of the previous post that she makes over $100k+ per year, she would laugh. Before Lisa’s term as KEA President, she was an experienced ELL teacher at Kentlake High School. She is toward the top of the teachers’ salary schedule due to her level of education and years of experience. (Again, feel free to look up her salary on a number of public sites. I will leave that for you if you are interested.) When her term ends in a few years, she will probably go back to that position. And before another silly rumor starts, I’d like to point out that unlike the District’s hired negotiator, Lisa is not paid extra because we are on strike.

        What contract offer were you referring to that members should have voted on? The District’s latest offer was largely a rehash of what they offered in July. (Many of the pages were photocopies from the July offer.) KEA’s Bargaining Team only brings a tentative agreement to the membership to vote yes or no on when all issues are settled. The District’s proposal did not have anything close to any real offers about our issues. (More on that in a new blog entry coming as soon as I finish approving these comments.)

        Finally, KEA has almost 1,800 members, so I think it would be hard to argue that talking to seven teachers is a representative sample.

        I hope this clears up some of your misconceptions.

      • Concerned Says:

        Listening to rumors is as bad as reading those tabloid newspapers. Try to understand the motive behind the rhetoric of the District. If you don’t know, I’ll tell you: MONEY. The motive/intent behind the union? CHILDREN AND TEACHERS.

      • CedarValleyParent Says:

        Here’s the website where Lisa Brackin-Johnson’s salary, as well as every other district employee in the State is listed, courtesy of the Seattle PI. Their source is the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

        Fact, not fiction.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        According to Lisa, that is not her correct salary. It may be that the PI’s numbers include benefits or something else. A previous post had her salary, straight from Lisa herself.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        I am actually questioning the validity of the database since I’m not even listed at the correct school.

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      On a related note, why do KDS teachers by the second highest union dues in the state (behind Bellevue), yet rank among the lowest in salary? Moreover, why are those union dues as high, or higher than Boeing union dues?
      (waiting for kenteducationassociation blogger to employ argumentum ad hominem by “shooting the messenger” (effwa) in 3…..2…..1…..)

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Hey, I’m all for answering legitimate questions, as long as they are not blatantly trying to promote the idea of the “evil union”.

        I’ll ignore your personal attack and get to the question you ask. I’m not sure if your info is correct. Like I said before, people should be wary of bias when looking at EFF numbers (just as they should when looking at numbers posted here). It doesn’t mean that everything EFF posts is wrong, it just means that people should be skeptical. We know what Twain said about, “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.”

        As far as the comparison between high dues and low wages, I will say that KEA had some major internal issues for several years that made it ineffectual. The end result was low member participation and some bad contracts. It’s not my place to get into them here, but if you ask around, you’ll find out why. It was when KEA got new leadership a few years ago that things started to change. That was the time I and many others started to get more involved in the union, and members were willing to bring their issues to the union. Pay is just one of the many things the union fights for, which is why it is only one of the issues we are working on currently.

        Do you believe that we should cut our dues or have our pay increased?

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        kenteducationassociation, I can appreciate the fact that not all the data floating around on the interwebs is accurate. But if there is something inaccurate about the effa dues report I would welcome the counterpoint. I would LOVE to know that Kent teachers do NOT pay the second highest teachers dues in the state.

        I’m not entirely certain you answered my “why” question regarding union dues.

        To answer your question; personally I’m not pro-union, so factor that in when I answer. I think you should cut your union dues (to $0) AND have your pay increased. I’m nonplussed as to why you would think it would be an “either/or” proposition. I can’t speak for all teachers (or any teacher for that matter), but I know if I were a teacher, given my salary, I would LOVE to have $60/mo back in my pocket.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Fair answer. I think we’re getting somewhere. I don’t know if anyone else is reading this anymore, but I’m interested. Alas, I have to get up early tomorrow to help raise the rabble.

        I don’t have an answer to your question now, but I will try to find out and comment back. Believe it or not, I am not the most pro-union guy around either. I’m actually quite conservative on many issues, and I have not been happy at the direction that our state and national unions have gone in many areas. That being said, I got involved in KEA because it was the best way I saw to make a difference for myself and my kids. I really believe that KEA, while not perfect, has done and continues to do a lot of good things in Kent. I believe that if you see things that you believe can be improved or issues that need fixing, you should work to resolve them using the tools at your disposal. I hope you at least respect that about me and my colleagues.

        I welcome your continued comments and questions.

      • CounterpointSue Says:

        That’s funny–I’m the same way. I’ve never been a particularly rabid union member. I’ve never been a building rep or taken any leadership role until now. I decided that the issues of time and class size were important enough to me that I needed to get in there and help make it happen because I really believe them to be core issues for the profession. I don’t agree with everything the union does (the whole seniority thing without weighing job performance really irritates me), but I recognize that I’m going to have to take the whole package in order to get the parts that I think are essential for the good of the body.

        Jimmy Hoffa, I may not agree with a lot of stuff you’ve said, but I certainly appreciate the interesting points you’ve made, and you have made me think a few times. Thanks for contributing to the blog. I love the debate.

      • Kent HS Teacher Says:

        I don’t know where EFF got those numbers, but I looked at my most recent paycheck and I paid $71.81 in dues. That means I pay $861.72/year, not the $1037 that your website claims.

        In looking back over previous year’s W-2 forms, this amount is slightly more than in previous years (within a few dollars) but has been relatively stable. I have NEVER paid $1037 in the seven years I’ve worked in Kent.

        Do you know where EFF got those numbers? If they are wrong, I’d be skeptical about anything else that EFF is claiming as “true.”

  21. Arlene Says:

    It seems to me that this whole discussion comes down to a choice between individuals versus the power of the government. Either teachers and parents and students work together to decide how best to educate their children, or else administrators, bureaucrats, and government decides how best to do that.

    I want the best education for my child. If administrators are so much smarter than teachers, and should be paid more as a result, then why not eliminate the teachers altogether and have the administrators educate the children?

    For me, I choose the teachers, since they are in the classrooms with the students. For me, the business of running a school district is secondary to the task of educating children and preparing them for their adult lives.

  22. Bophal Says:

    You people are all so greed. If you do not want to teach, go do something else. What about the kids? How can parents work when they have kids that they have to watch because there is no school?

    You talk about politicians and politics but you have jobs. The economy is bad you should be grateful for having work.

    I would send my son to private school but ai checked and they all are full. What you do is only hurting the parents and children. It is all talk about money and class room size but who will care when children fail the WASL and cannot go to college?

    This is all selfish talk. These people cannot make a difference. Cant you accept your job and do it? You already have so much why are you asking for more?

    Stop this picket and tell your bosses to settle so our children can go back to getting an education.

    • Evanna Johnson Says:

      Oh, I am so upset at your comments I don’t know where to start!
      1. If you’ve got the $ to send your kids to private school, then please do so. That will reduce the class size for at least 1 teacher!
      2. Greedy, Greedy, how much do you make? and is YOUR job instructing, counseling, nursing? Thats what the teachers do every darn school day (for your children as well as mine).
      3. Just because the economy is bad, does this mean, people should settle for being disrespected? Where are you coming from with this type of comment?
      Teachers, stick with what you need to do to get what you need to get through. There are always folks with small minds, and jealous natures that will try to bring you down. My children support you, I support you and all my neighbors stand by you.
      Stay strong!

    • Sixth Grade Teacher Says:

      It really upsets me when people say that teachers are greedy. Many of us donate time and money to our classrooms. My salary is based on a 7.5 hour work day…I can’t remember the last time I worked 7.5 hours. I get paid 7.5 hours at the beginning of the year to set-up my classroom and I’ve already spent 32 hours this summer setting up my room and I’m not done.

      I spent well over $500, out of my own pocket, in my classroom last year on things like books, classroom supplies and snacks for my students (because so many of my students come to school hungry)….I have put my own money into student lunch accounts because their parents can’t do it and I can’t stand to see my kids go without a lunch. Teachers are not greedy…

      Most of my evenings and weekends are spent planning lessons and grading papers and most of my summers are spent educating myself and planning lessons. I am not greedy…

      I love my job and am grateful for it every day…there’s nothing in this world I’d rather be doing. I would rather be teaching then standing on the picket line. It breaks my heart to not work with my students right now, but it’s because of them I am doing this.

      Too many of our students, who took the WASL last spring, are not meeting state standards. Most of our elementary schools have not met AYP as described in NCLB. Don’t you think that if our class sizes were smaller and our students were able to receive individualized attention, they’d have a better chance of passing the test and reaching their goal of going to college?

      If Kent was offering their child a quality education why are so many of the private schools full?

      For me, this strike is not about more money in my pocket, but about giving my students the best education possible, and I feel that I cannot effectively do my job when I’m responsible for 31 sixth graders. It’s hard to plan quality lessons when we are in meeting after meeting…and I’m tired of sacrificing my evenings and weekends, I have a family and they’d like to spend some time with me…

      Please don’t say I’m greedy…

      • Anonymous Says:

        Either you are professionals who should decide how to do your job yourselves, or you are hourly employees under direct supervision. Professionals are salaried and work till the job is done. Hourly employees are not professionals and work their hours and go home. Pick one.

      • Sixth Grade Teacher Says:


        I agree with you 100%.

        My point was to counteract the opinion that teachers are greedy…

        I sure wish that our district would treat us like professionals and allow me to determine what is important for my classroom and students…

        You mentioned that I need to learn to do my job myself…who do you think does my job? I also do the job of a nurse, counselor, and sometimes even a parent.

        I worked as a hotel manager for many years, teaching is a second career for me. Teaching is a much different profession and can’t be compared to working in the business world. As a hotel manager I had 100 employees I was responsible for. They came to work, did their job and went home. I didn’t sit up at night worrying about whether or not they were going to be fed when they got home or whether or not they were going to be abused when they got home.

        While working in the hotel I wrote evaluations, but didn’t have to create individual learning plans and come up with ways to ensure each student learns and grows to the best of their abilities

        When I worked in the hotel business I interviewed potential employees to make sure they were qualified for the job and a good fit for my staff. With teaching I teach anyone who walks into my door regardless of their “qualifications,” I’m glad to do it, but it poses some challenges.

        I am a professional and I do work many hours outside the normal work day. I do my job until it is done. I work until the wee hours of the evening and wake early in the morning to start it again. I spend most of my summer working, learning and preparing for the next school year. Most school breaks are spent writing lessons, grading papers and preparing report cards. I just wish we were respected as professionals.

        As a hotel manager, I made more money, had better benefits, wasn’t required to work on my days off or while on vacation, didn’t loose sleep at night worrying about my staff….

        Despite all of the “challenges” teaching provides, I love my job and I’m good at it. I wouldn’t choose to leave teaching because the rewards (the kids) truly outweigh
        the challenges, but I may choose to go to another district where teachers are respected and treated like professionals.

      • Anonymous Says:

        I support the teachers. It is a difficult, thankless job and too many parents see school as a free nanny and free lunch service. For parents complaining about the day care costs, you should have been prepared. News of the strike has been looming all summer, even before the last school year ended. It is your responsibility as a parent to keep informed of what may affect your child. Your day care costs have not increased over the year, because the number of school days remain the same.

        Everyone is talking about how this is bad timing, especially in a recession. Remember, this is an INVESTMENT in your child’s future. Can you really put a price on that? I, for one, have refused to participate in the recession and you can choose to do the same.

      • Sheri Says:

        Well said, and thank you for your sacrificial service to students! I’m sorry you had to read that previous comment from “Bophal”!!

    • Sheri Says:

      Your comments are insulting and uninformed. It’s a bummer that they weren’t moderated, but I’m glad you have given others an opportunity to enlighten you. Your kids are not in school so that you can work, by the way.

    • Got Tape? Says:

      I believe Maple Valley Christian has openings.

    • Got Tape? Says:

      That was in response to Bophal

  23. EX Staffer now in the real world! Says:

    We have laid off people in our office, cut hours, cut out janitorial staff and advertising, cut out the company 401 K matching for the year, and do a lot of the labor intensive work outselves since the economy has hit our industry very hard. Everyday, I speak to people who have been hit hard by the economy and are forced out of work, behind in their mortgages and other payments trying to keep their heads above water until we see things improve. My bosses clean our bathrooms, mop and vaccume the common areas, and we are expected to vaccume and dust our own offices weekly. We have a chore list for the mail, lunchroom and garbage. I suggest all you professionals, clean your own rooms and bathrooms, run your own copies, and do some other the other labor intensive jobs that others are hired to do for you. This way you can get your raises, smaller class sizes and excellent benefits. There is only so much money in the pot and you all need to learn what that means.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      If your company posted a profit in this recession, would you be afraid to ask for improved working conditions, a promotion, etc, especially if you were directly responsible for your company’s success? Our District increased its General Reserve Fund since this time last year by several million dollars (it took in more than it spent, which I believe some may refer to as a profit in the business world). It did that on the backs of teachers, support staff, and students.

      Many of the contract proposals we have put on the table would actually save the District money. We are trying to be creative and flexible to get this thing settled. The District may say that they are collaborating to solve this issue, but they are not. We have tried every other way of influencing District policy short of strike for the last several years to no avail. This is our last resort.

      • . Says:

        Grow up.

      • Big Joe Says:

        It’s too bad that although you’ve decided to draw your line in the sand and to play your final card, you’ve failed to realize over the last several years it’s not your job to attempt to influence District policy. Your job is to teach and carry out the District’s policies. You chose the profession and your position. Unfortunately, you also chose to work under a union structure that lumps everyone together, rewards mediocrity, and attempts to give the individual the idea that power is obtained by combining many voices.

        Welcome to the real world. The world where we all have to work longer and harder and smarter. Fortunately for some of us, because we don’t belong to a union, our employers can reward individuals based upon merit and achievement. In the competitive world a lot of us live in, we have to go out and identify opportunity and turn the opportunity into revenue that our companies can collect. Those of us who work harder, smarter, and longer than our competition generally win, but it is a battle we have to go out and fight every day.

        As teachers, your workload and responsibilities come walking in the door every day. So what if you have a few extra students to teach and a few more meetings to attend than you did five years ago, deal with it. If Kent Schools is so unfair, take your resume up the street to a better District and get a job there. If teaching is no longer providing you with what you need in life, take those degrees and find a new profession. If management and administrators seem to be making an unreasonable amount of money for doing nothing, go get a job at the District level and change the way things operate.

        There is no doubt there are many of you out there who actually can and do make a difference. There is also no doubt there are many who don’t and are just riding along with the crowd. Welcome to the world of union representation. Regardless of what the stated reasons and beliefs are for this inability to resolve the issues, it does come down to money. Either more money for doing more work or more money to hire more teachers so additional classrooms can be opened (resulting in fewer students per class), the end result is the same – money. As I said earlier, contrary to KEA’s belief, it is not your job to attempt to infleuence the District or tell them how to spend or save money. As employees and middle managers, it is your job to carry out their directives.

        There is nothing wrong with submitting action plans or examples of changes that could be made to the benefit of all parties involved, that is what good employees do to help strengthen their organizations. But in the end, you’re employees and it’s up to you to decide whether you can work under the provided parameters or not. Without KEA, it would be every person for themselves and much easier for both sides to resolve the issues on a case by case basis as it is done in the real world. Unfortunately, when 1,500 or 1,700 of you band together, you do so with the beief you have more rights that what you really do and it just hurts and slows down the entire process.

        In the end, this dispute will get settled. KSD and KEA will either resolve it together or a higher power or authority will decide it for you. In the meantime, KEA can have their assemblies, light their candles, feel proud that they’ve drawn their line in the sand, and decided to bail. Let’s not forget that the non KEA employees (whether you approve of their job skills or not) are either still showing up for work (or desirig to do so) and the students are sitting at home.

      • rupert Says:

        Big Joe,
        What you’ve stated here is simply an opinion. And no, that’s not the real world.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        rupert, maybe it’s not the real union world, but what Big Joe describes is the real world for the majority of working folks.

      • Fed-up Says:

        A profit, give me a break! The last time I checked the public schools have a captive audience and are funded with local, state and federal taxes. If the district has money beyond their budget in principle that money belongs to the taxpayer and the school board and administration are tasked with prudent use of those excess funds.

        Six grade teacher,
        You want an hourly job, go get one. Otherwise welcome to the rest of the world.

    • teacher Says:

      Dear Ex Staffer,
      As a teacher in the Kent School District, I do have to clean my own room, empty my garbage cans (In the middle of my afternoon classes mind you so they could be out before the custodial staff left for the day) and clean up any mess that the 30 students in my VERY small classroom make. We have basic “chores” as you call them as well, Recess duty, breakfast and bus duty. All of these cut into our time with our own students. Frequently I ran from one meeting to do these duties and was not able to get prepared as well as I needed to so I could teach the students in my class.
      Many of us have spouses that have also experience down turns in their jobs from the economy. But we must remember that we are all there for the students and we are taking this stand for them. We can’t help them pass the WASL or MSP when there are too many in the room. We just cant meet the needs of all!

    • TLT37 Says:

      Hi, Ex-Staffer.

      I am really shaking my head as to how delusional you are, and how incredibly misinformed you are about what educators (who you like to address as “you people”) do. We do pick up our own rooms and often have to run our own copies, because the district cut custodial and clerical hours. If you don’t think teaching is labor intensive, I invite you to volunteer at a middle school for a few weeks (especially in June, when the temperature rises to 85 degrees because we don’t have air-conditioning) and see how you like it. And 401K match???? What the hec is THAT?? I always find it humorous when someone from the “real world” likes to share how my reality doesn’t apply, because when last I checked, the only person grading my students’ 145 essays was ME–not somebody hired to do it for me.

    • EI@LY Says:

      Actually, we do clean our rooms because no one comes to dust, even weekly. The district has cut custodial hours so we are in charge of making sure our garbage cans are placed in the hall by 2:00. There are some days the custodian doesn’t have time to vacuum. The clerical staff doesn’t run copies for me. I run my own copies or sometimes a parent volunteer will do it for me. BTW, have you ever offered to volunteer in the classroom? I find that the parents who do are our biggest supporters. They see first hand what the job of teaching involves. Parent volunteers are a great asset to our schools and we are very thankful to the parents who give us their time and talents.

  24. Parent of Kent Students Says:

    I read an above comment as to why parents aren’t picketing. That would be because we are working at jobs where we can’t strike, must take pay cuts, lose benefits and sacrifice time off. We are straddling bad childcare situations and uncertainty of schedules due to the lack of planning and proper negotiations by the district and the union alike.

    This isn’t about the kids, this is about strategy, pure and simple. How long were meetings put off so that the strike card could be put on the table? I am sure there was much foot dragging on both sides of the issue that led us to this point. Everyone knew when the contract was up…

    Striking is the only card the union has to play and the district hopes the teachers will look bad when they strike. Next time a student delays a homework assignment well before the due date, then decides they won’t come to school until that assignment is made easier, everyone can look back at the example set by the teachers and administrators in their district.

    • Kent Parent Says:

      AMEN! Thank you, I agree.

    • teacher Says:

      These negotiations started back in April. The KEA negotiating team offered to meet at any time for however long it would take. The district cancelled meetings, got there late and unprepared and refused to meet for longer than 4 hours. In June, we voted to take a strike vote if there was not an acceptable contract. In JUNE the district knew we would vote on a strike. Still the KEA offered to meet 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. They made it clear that the district only need to name the time and place and they would be there and for however long it took. Yet, the district still refused to meet for more than 4 hrs at a time. I don’t see where KEA has been dragging it’s feet. I only see where KEA has given the district plenty of time to take us seriously. They dropped the ball this time. Even after we voted to strike they had plenty of time before disrupting an on time start to school.

    • Another Kent Parent Says:

      I also 100% agree. I will not show my child that I support a strike when his father is having to take furlough days. I am hoping the District files against the teachers for this illegal strike. I do believe our teachers deserve respect. I am in support of class sizes TRULY being under 30 students (not “have an aide for over” but only HAVE 30 students), I, as a RN, must attend often meetings on hours I am not scheduled..this is not an unusual thing in the workforce. I believe that you can negotiate these items without a strike. The strike is only hurting the kids. If it TRULY isnt about the money, then offer to give up the 3.5% raise (many people have LOST money this year by the way) and have the district utilize that money to higher additional teachers so as to lower class size.. I am not an angry or uneducated person… I am VERY involved in my childs classes and schooling.. and I believe whole heartedly that this strike is wrong. I will NOT show my support to the teachers whom I believe are being brainwashed by the Union. I’ve READ the contract offerings and find them fair, in fact some areas, I think they are getting a lot more than most workplaces!

    • Another Kent Parent Says:

      I also agree…thanks for stating this. My husband works 14 to 15 hour days for the majority of the year…including weekends. He is now being forced to take a pay cut. I am incredibly frustrated with both sides of this…both the district and KEA have disappointed me.

  25. Teacher of Kent Students Says:

    The issues of workload and time have been on the bargaining table since the contract re-opener LAST YEAR! Not just since April 2009, but since April 2008! Knowing that a strike was looming, the district chose to meet only 5 times since bargaining on the full contract began, for what I believe to be 4 hours each time. When the union offered to meet more, the district refused. The district has had 15 months to come up with a proposal that’s acceptable to both sides and to attempt to meet somewhere in the middle.

    • Angry Parent Says:

      Maybe the district simply hoped you guys would grow up already. Listen, you’re playing to the wrong set of parents, we all are not getting raises, working jobs, juggling childcare and tired of your complaining. If the district isn’t competitive enough for you or is not treated you well, then by all means, please leave. You have lost the respect of your parents anyway. I think you will be surprised when you start back how few of us will be very appreciative of you being there. Fact is, if life were financially easier for US, many would be seeking out private schools or homeschooling in lieu of subjecting our kids to teachers who think a candlelight vigil is even appropriate. Grow up already, life is hard for everyone.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I really have not heard yet from any strike opponents how this community benefits from teachers that are feeling mistreated, disrespected, and undercompensated. If the economy improves and teachers leave Kent in a mass exodus, will the community be better off if new teachers come in to face the same deplorable conditions? We’ve been working from within this District, trying to make changes from the inside because we care about the kids and the community, especially since man of us also live in Kent.

        In terms of finances, again I ask: If your boss posted record profits, would you ask for a salary cut, a demotion, and an increase in workload because your neighbor lost his job? The economy is rough, but Kent School District INCREASED their reserve fund and is wasting money.

  26. Concerned Says:

    TttThis is getting ridiculous for a one year contract, don’t you think? I hope the bargaining team is really bargaining for teachers.

  27. Len Dawson Says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the reality that the DISTRICT wanted this to go to a strike vote WAY more than the teacher’s union ever did. Which side constantly dragged their feet in negotiations for a year plus? Which side only dealt with minor issues like page numbers and numbers on contracts and constantly refused to focus on the big issues of class size, time, and compensation? Which side declared an impasse out of the blue and demanded a state mediator, causing the entire process to bog down and delay? Which side walked away and cancelled on negotiation sessions? All along the district was gambling on the union to go for a strike vote and to fail at getting the 70% for it. The district knew that was the best situation for their own strength. No teacher is happy about this, but when you’re an angry parent or community member about this strike, please remember that in reality the side that most pushed for and wanted this was never the teachers.

  28. Disappointed Mom Says:

    When school gets back in session, it would be nice if the teachers can offer an explanation to the kids as to why, when their parents are being laid off and not given raises, the teachers are not graciously offering to share their 3% raise and fund extra positions. If it’s really about the kids and about class sizes, then let the teachers help fund new positions. None of us can afford to anymore. They are the only ones GETTING raises around here. We are simply being held hostage by greedy teachers who don’t really care about the kids too much, else they would be in school TEACHING them instead of standing on the sides of the roads. Don’t expect too much respect from either students or parents when you get back to work, you haven’t earned it.

    • K_S_D Teacher Says:

      As a KSD teacher, I (and all those I have asked) would gladly work for last years salary to get lower class sizes. Out of the issues, class size and workload are the most important with pay a distant third. Why is it still there? I would bet because it is the only meaningful thing the district has offered us (probably at the hopes of making us look greedy, in my opinion).
      None of us got into the profession of teaching to get rich. However, as many have said before, pay is what attracts solid new teachers which is also a benefit to students.
      Less workload gives us the time to innovate and excel ourselves so our students can do the same. It is not remotely fair to ask us to spend all of our time home with family doing school work because our time at school is used in too many meetings. Even we need time to be with and nurture our own children (and knowing this we still spend lots of time doing scoolwork at home because we are dedicated to education and TRULY want our students to succeed).
      If you have not recently worked or been in the public schools you cannot imagine the difference two or three less students can make wether it be in grading, having enough space, or even in class management.
      I would like nothing more than to be in my classroom but we feel these issues are important and we have been working to remedy them is other ways for quite some time.
      Unfortunately, it has come to this.
      Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what is best for students
      Unfortunately, it does impact the whole community.
      Fortunately, we do have community support.
      Fortunately, I work with a great group of people.
      Fortunately, we all LOVE teaching enough to risk the ire of some to improve it for EVERYONE.
      (yes that is MY opinion)
      Thank You.

    • noneedtobemean Says:

      Martin Sortun parent,

      The offer that the KEA put out has the same; pay the teachers more if they go over a cap language
      So it seems this is one point that the KEA and KSD agree on

      But if you don’t want to follow the link here it is.

      4. Class Size Relief
      Class size limits will not be deliberately exceeded when enrollment is known or reasonably anticipated in advance. If numbers are exceeded, the District will provide relief by adding additional classes or sections, reassigning students to different classrooms, or schools, or hiring additional teachers, or by providing additional compensation as described below, or by an alternative solution agreed to by the teacher, the Superintendent and KEA President. In no event will any class size exceed the contractual limit by four (4) or more students.
      5. Time Limit
      When a class size limit has been exceeded, the District will make reasonable effort to reduce class size to, or below the contractual limit within twenty-one (21) calendar days. If class size is not reduced to, or below, the stated contractual limit within twenty-one (21) days, the teacher will be compensated with payment of $2.00 per student per period per day in secondary schools, and $10 per student per day in elementary schools. Such payment will be retroactive to the first day the contractual limit is exceeded, and will continue until class size is reduced to or below the stated contractual limit.

    • BaffledTeacher Says:

      Can you explain when an appropriate time would be for us to stand up and say “enough?” I would like to know when the right time would be for us to be respected by the Kent School District.
      Do not underestimate the concern of teachers in regards to the economy or the situation that parents are put in by finding other means of care for their children. We are members of the community too and pay the same taxes as everyone else. We have spouses who have been laid off or are taking cuts in their salaries. We are having to find care for our children, while on strike. You are not a “select” group. Unfortunately, our contract came due during a crisis in our economy.
      Keep in mind that after the dust settles, your child will be back in school and we will be teaching your child, as well as making sure they’re fed, clothed properly, nurtured, learning, exploring, making goals, achieving goals and guided in the right direction, as some parents choose not to do. So to say that you are being held hostage by greedy teachers who don’t really care about the kids too much, severely lowers my respect for you. I challenge you to get off your soap box and shadow a teacher during their contracted time + time spent outside of their contract, grading papers, making phone calls, planning purposefully, designing lessons to reach each child, taking classes to keep our certificates current, participating in workshops on upcoming or new curriculum, for five days straight and tell me if you would feel the same. I highly doubt it.

    • Sixth Grade Teacher Says:

      Disappointed Mom,

      I’m sorry you’ve lost your respect for teachers. But standing on the picket line has shown me how much support we truly have from the community. The out pouring of support has overwhelmed me and I know that when I get back to school our community of parents will continue to support me.

    • DES Says:

      Disappointed Mom,
      I am sorry that you are frustrated. We all are. I would invite you to read the posts prior to yours for information as to the reason the 3% raise was declined. As far as “if it’s really about the kids and about class sizes, then let the teachers help fund new positions,” our union has given information as to how to lower class sizes. As for pay, are you aware that we are under paid in comparison to districts around us? Do you want your children to be taught by highly qualified teachers, or those that will settle for lower pay because they can’t get jobs in the higher paying districts? Do you want your child to sit in classes that are so oversized, that his/her questions cannot be answered or addressed?

      Are you aware that the teachers waited years to get the pay raise that the voters agreed to give us at the state level? If it were true that teachers were greedy, why would we be in a profession that is notoriously low paying? We are givers, not takers, by and large, in nature. However, there gets to be a point when you can see that even if it were humanly possible to work at our jobs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we would still not have enough time to meet all of our “obligations” to our students. That’s the time when an overly worked, underpaid, and under appreciated person stands up and states that something must change in order for human beings to do their job well and give the students what is needed.

      As for standing on the sidelines instead of teaching, please remember, each person out there is giving up their personal time to do so on the behalf of the educational community. Each person must work 180 days. We are out there currently on our own time, not time that counts towards those 180 days we must still work. Does that sound like something we’d choose to do with our free time? Or does that sound like something we feel we need to do to be change agents?

      I invite you to spend some time in the schools when we resume. I believe you would find out some amazing things that you might not now know.

      • Disappointed Mom Says:

        I assure you I have spent a LOT of hours in the schools, my oldest just graduated from KR and I have another child at Northwood. I have logged plenty of hours and have substituted as an IA. So I know exactly what you all are doing and I still am not getting your complaints. I have been, for years, stunned and amazed at your need for non contact time. When we were kids, teachers welcomed you before school, didn’t make you stand in the rain and line up to enter the school, they played with you at recess. From that vantage point your jobs look pretty cushy.

        You couldn’t do your jobs without moms like me, we’re the ones who take kids out and read and do testing and help with your bulletin boards and support you all the time to help with our kids’ education. I have SEEN first hand what you do in the Kent School District for the last thirteen years. So don’t assume just because we disagree with you that we don’t know what you are doing…

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Well said, Dissappointed Mom. I get very annoyed when teachers basically say “you just don’t get it” when someone disagrees with their strike. There are plenty of parents that devote as may hours to helping out in the schools as the teachers do, yet those parents don’t get paid for it. I’ve lost track of how much money we’ve put out of our own pocket to help the kids, the teachers and the schools. Never submitted a request for reimbursement from either the district or the PTA. So, to all you teachers: don’t assume that just because someone disagrees with your positions that means they “don’t get it”

    • Sheri Says:

      These comments are redundant. If you read the previous posts and the responses, read the KSD website as well as the KEA website, and ask specific questions to people who will know the answers (vs. listening to the rumor mill), you will discover that this situation is NOT like your workplace. The fact that the teacher contract is up this year has nothing to do with the economy–just coincidental timing. Get as many facts as you can, assume the best for the things you don’t have answers to, and when push comes to shove, support the teachers. They, afterall, are the ones spending more hours with your child than you are.

    • Tuvok Says:

      I was talking to some people today and they mentioned their friends at other jobs are getting raises up to 5%, but keep it quiet because some people do not have it as good. I wonder if many employers who are not struggling are using the recession as an excuse to keep more money instead of giving their workers raises?

  29. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    private citizen, what business is it of anybody’s but Dr. Vargas’ how much of HIS OWN MONEY he spends on his daughter’s college education? And how is that even remotely relevant to the issues under negotiation?

  30. kent teacher Says:

    I would like it known that KSD, which claims to have no money, has a large sum of money in the bank. At last count, 21 million dollars. Of course, some of those funds has been spent to hire an additional negotiator at $15,000. This hired negotiator received a bonus when a tentative agreement was not made. KSD also spent a sizable $13,000 on mailings to the community. Paid overtime and posted drained money from the district that claims they cannot afford much of anything. They cannot afford to make financial decisions in the interest of your child’s education but can ensure that administrators receive the highest salary for less than full-time work. Although spending on students and teachers is nearly at the bottom in the Puget Sound area, Kent administrators make the highest and are number one in pay. Exactly what are we paying for? I guess we are paying for the $90,000-$120,000 salaries made by administrators.

  31. Respect Says:

    You all talk about wanting respect and feeling like you are being disrespected by the school district, but have you read your own blog or website? I don’t remember seeing or hearing any personal disrespect or attacks coming from the school district website or media interviews, but this blog is full of personal attacks against the school district and its employees. I’m sure you have all taught your kids that respect is earned and not just given. Based on the posts on this site by individuals and the KEA, I don’t see why respect should be given.

    Discuss and debate the issues and leave the personal attacks out of it. Becky, Vargas, Berrios, and others are all just doing their jobs. Like all of you before you decided to strike. How would you feel if the District started pointing you out personally by name and blaming you for your WASL or any kind of classroom failure? You win as a team and you lose as a team.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Sit in a meeting behind closed doors with the District’s Bargaining Team for a few 12 hours shifts. Or in a meeting when you are pointing out how an Administrator has violated our contract (and sometimes the law) for the fourth straight time. See how they act. The KSD’s public face that you see is not the face that many KEA members see. It is not the one that KEA sees when it works to enforce its members’ rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and state and federal labor laws. If KEA members are emotional on this blog or in this strike, understand that teachers have been accepting abuse quietly for a long time. We simply could not take the conditions anymore, so we are on strike.

      Many in KEA believe that we are being too harsh in our criticism of the District, while others believe KEA isn’t being aggressive enough. I think your comment is right, though. We should all be mindful of how we act during this strike. It is appropriate, however, for KEA to point out when the District is being evasive or outright lying. It is also appropriate for us to point out where bad leadership and bad decisions are hurting both us and the kids we are here to serve.

      Now everyone take a deep breath and think about butterflies and puppy dogs….. 🙂 OK, now back to the arguing!!!!

      • what?? Says:

        I keep hearing about teachers accepting abuse quietly or that things have been sliding for a long time. As a parent I just want to say that the SECOND someone wrongs my child I am ON IT. I don’t want to look back and point fingers but seriously folks from here forward can we get it in your contract that you SPEAK UP ASAP if you think that there is an issue that is impacting kids, don’t hold it in till the contract expires. Don’t ever wait, kids need you to stand up for them and I would have THOUGHT that our teachers WERE ALREADY doing that on a regular basis I had no idea that they were waiting for the PERFECT moment to speak up.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Many KEA members have been speaking up recently, but you may not have heard about it.

        KEA filed over 60 grievances in the last two years against the District for violating the contract and state of federal labor laws. Several have been taken to arbitration, where KEA has won. KEA has also filed an Unfair Labor Practice (more on that if you search our blog archives) against the District for over a dozen examples of the District ignoring arbitrator or mediator’s decisions or for violating state labor law. This Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) could have been settled through a state mediator (which would’ve cost the District nothing), but the KSD instead decided to hire an outside Seattle law firm to fight the complaints, which come before the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) soon. KEA members have been attending School Board meetings, writing letters to the editor of local papers, and contacted the previous and current Superintendents and members of the School Board to voice our concerns. For three straight years, KEA held Listening Sessions to hear the concerns of over 1,000 KEA members, which informed our bargaining proposals the last several years.

        So, unfortunately, the strike is one event in a long line of actions taken by members to both improve their own working conditions as well as their classrooms. If we had any choice, we would not be in this mess right now. KEA was relatively silent for many years for a variety of reasons, which caused the District to basically violate the contract and our members’ rights. As a result, Kent’s teachers lost a lot of say in the decisions that affected us and our students. Now that we have started to reassert our rights and take our appropriate place as partners in shaping education in Kent, the administration simply does not want to give up its power and control. Make no mistake, the District is not bargaining in good faith because they do not want to lose control over what they believe is rightfully theirs.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        I’m not quite sure what point was trying to be made with your comment, kenteducationassociation. Are you saying the District rendered the contract null and void by their actions? If that is the case it would seem Section 18.1 of the contract carries no teeth, as you could likely find any lawyer that would find some technicality that would enable you to justify your strike, even though the teachers apparently agreed that if they were to go on strike they could potentially be fired.

        Where in the contract is there language that says.. “If the district does ‘x’, then Section 18.1 is void.”

      • Tuvok Says:

        Please read my post above. This section you have been quoting is from the classified contract and not the certificated.

      • Tuvok Says:

        this comment was meant for the post above kenteducationassociation.

      • classifiedemployee Says:

        Here’s another question for you. There are probably many community members out there that think you are making up the complaints regarding the districts. However, many classified staff have also experienced the same actions from the district. Administrators continually ask us to do things outside of our pay scale description yet when we balk we are told we are “not team players” and when we complain to our union, we’re told it falls under the illusive “other duties as assigned” in our job descriptions. We are talked down to, regarded as nothing more than moms who have taken jobs to bide the time while our kids are in school, and treated as though a monkey could do our jobs. We are continually told HOW to do our job instead of ASKED the best way to do our job and reclassification requests go unsupported by the district administrators and the union says they can’t help us fight to get them.

        Recently, with the budget cuts, positions were cut and staff were moved. In one particular case, one employee’s position was cut, she was moved and, magically, another position was created in that same department with just enough of a different job description to make the change legal. She applied and was not hired. This is a prime of example of the district’s standard operating procedure and it is this blatant lack of respect that is a black mark on the district. And it is not like this in other districts…..just ask someone who works at one.

        As I said in a prior post, there are many inside supporting you and cheering you on. It seems odd that our union has done nothing to show support to you….unlike the Teamsters, UPS and other unions who refuse to cross the picket lines. Unfortunately, in another successful attempt at manipulation, the district negotiated a “no strike” clause into our contract. We are expected to cross the picket lines. Yes, many of us feel like scabs–we’d rather be out there with you. We are able to do that on our own time, however, all it takes is one administrator seeing us to increase the changes that our position will be the next one eliminated. Is there another way our unions can work together to form a unified stance against the district? It would only strengthen our case and bring more proof that there really is a systemic problem within the district that the current administration feeds.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I think most of us on the picket lines not only understand, but are totally supportive of you. Keep doing your best. Hopefully, if we can start the ball rolling in the right direction, everyone will benefit from this strike in the long term.

  32. Parent/Teacher Says:

    I had reservations about the strike from the beginning. The more I observe and hear, the more amazed I am at what groups are doing in the name of class size and meeting time. I hope it was only a rumor that one groupwants to picket early enough to stop construction workers from completing work on one of our newest schools. What does that prove and what place does that have in KEA issues? I also observed many discontented community members voicing their anger at the strike…not in support of it. We hear bout the board rolling their eyes and being disrespectful to the KEA bargaining team. I have been told of the angry comments made to those educators who have concerns about the strike by those in support of it. We all have a right to our opinions and feelings. I am not going to yell at someone or make unkind comments to any of my colleagues because I don’t agree with them. I am not seeing much differentc between some of the actions KEA is seeming to support and the school board’s alledged actions.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      So what you are saying is that this is an emotional issue? That might explain all the rumors that keep going around, such as the ones you are spreading. I will let others refute your statements. I think everyone needs to be careful about rumors that are going around, no matter what side they are on on this issue.

      • wantstohelp Says:

        where are parents supposed to meet tomorrow to picket? Saw on Q13 about an email campaign for parents? How do I get involved?

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        First, concerned parents should contact the School Board and Dr. Vargas and every media outlet early and often to let them know that it is time they step up and show some leadership. Vargas claimed tonight that parent phone calls to the District are one of the main reasons why they filed tonight’s injunction. He failed to mention that he has propagandized Kent parents three times this week with an autodialer call claiming that the District made proposals, but it was the KEA that rejected them. GARBAGE!

        KEA members will be at a few high profile sites on Wednesday. Probably the best place for parents to picket is at the KSD Administration building.

        Thanks for your support.

  33. Non-essential Staff Says:

    Don’t forget the classified staff (or non-essential as district calls us) who also without being able to vote are losing wages and possible benefits. Please everyone negotiate in good faith…both sides. Hurry please. When this is all over we need to work together as a team but it will be pretty hard if I lose my house or benefits.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      We absolutely agree. We hope that what we are fighting for will be the beginning of improvements for are non-KEA colleagues, as well. Talk to your union about some of the services they offer during a strike that may help you out. Good luck!

  34. Administrative Corruption? Says:

    In reading the Kent Reporter online, I read that one of KSD’s proposals for class size was to form a committee to study the issue: “The committee to look at class size would include administration, teachers and community stakeholders, such as members of the citizens’ budget review committee.” My response to the article was as follows:

    I find it interesting that the Citizen’s Budget Review Committee is listed here as a good example of community involvement in this district. I looked up a little information on this committee and was shocked at what I found.

    The members of this committee are appointed by the School Board members (2 each) and all of the schools in the district (1 each). In addition, there are 2 at large members, for a total of 52 members. The purpose of the committee is to help advise the School Board about the priorities of the budget. The committee meets twice a month from January to June and makes its final recommendations in June. In this way, the schools and the public is supposedly represented in the budget process.

    I have 3 major problems with the way this system is currently working.

    1. Since the people on the committee are “nominated” by the various interested parties, there is the possibility of a conflict of interest. If I’m a School Board member or a principal, I might “nominate” an individual who shares my outlook on the budget. If I do this, I am not offering an opportunity for anyone to advise me, merely to confirm what I already intend to do. This is wrong!

    2. Of the 52 positions on the committe, 21 are “open.” This is 40% of the committee. How is this supposed to be representative of the citizens of Kent? Again, it seems like they are a specially selected group that will give the appearance of “advising” the School Board, without the danger that they may object to what the administration wants to do.

    3. Of the 5 members of the School Board, 3 served on the Citizen’s Budget Review Committee–Debbie Straus, Bill Boyce, and Chris Davies. Now, I know these people were involved in other aspects of the Kent Schools as well, but it is very interesting that 60% of the School Board came from this very select committee for which membership had to be approved by former School Boards. Whether this is a good ol’ boys network or just a system of “you scratch my back,” it smells funny.

    It would seem that there is some sort of back-room power structure going on that the citizens of Kent School District know nothing about. Anyone who has been to a School Board meeting will see members of the board occasionally ask questions during the various presentations, but at no time is there real discussion or debate of the issues at the meeting itself. In fact, other than the budget, most decisions are voted on in a consent calendar, implying there is no debate necessary. How do the School Board members all magically agree on everything? They are not supposed to conduct business except in public meetings. Yet, meeting after meeting, there is no debate and no discussion. Perhaps something else is going on? Maybe the Kent or Covington Reporter will do a little investigative journalism and try to find out for us.

    Links to the above information:

    1. CBRC info:…. (link to membership from this page)

    2. Debbie Straus:
    Bill Boyce:
    Chris Davies:

    I do truly hope that someone investigates exactly what is going on in this School District. Something just doesn’t feel right, and it sounds like we are all paying the price for it.

  35. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    Not exactly sure what the AFT is, and how it relates to the KEA and the WEA, but…….hmmmmmmmm

    Section 18.1
    There shall not be authorized any strike, slowdown or any other stoppage of work by the Union regardless of whether an unfair labor practice is alleged. The District shall not lock out any employee covered by this Agreement. Should a strike, slowdown, or stoppage by the Union members occur, the Union shall immediately instruct its members to return to work. If the employees do not resume work as required by this Agreement immediately upon being so instructed, they shall be subject to discipline, including discharge.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Sorry, I accidentally submitted my comment before I was done typing.

      You quoted the contract that KSD has with our custodians, instructional assistants, and others, who are not part of the KEA or WEA or NEA. They are part of the American Federation of Teachers, which is the second largest teacher union in the country, after the NEA. Our contract is here: Click on the link at the top of the page that says, “KEA Contract.” Remember that the contract expired as of 18 minutes ago.

    • Tuvok Says:

      I wanted to check this out as well. I went to the contracts page on the Kent School District website.

      Kent Classified (AFT) Contract is what you have quoted Mr. Hoffa. AFT is defined on the first page as American Federation of Teachers Union. In section 1.4 the cutodial, grounds, matenance, etc staff are stated as the people this contract covers. Teachers are certificated staff.

  36. willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

    Let me introduce myself as a kindergarten teacher in Kent, just so you know where I’m coming from. I’ve been disgesting this blog, the district’s website, and as many other sources as I can find every day in the weeks and months leading up to this strike, trying to make sense of the whole situation from both sides.

    I’m a fairly new teacher, and I’ve got a lot of varied, and sometimes conflicting emotions and opinons around this strike, the nature of my chosen (and much, much loved) profession and union representation of it in general. As I walk the line with nothing but time to think, I dwell on my relationship with the public I serve (both directly, as in parents and families of my students, and more broadly as in the rest of the community that pays taxes to pay my salary to support the noble and hopefully unquestioned practice of freely educating all of our children).

    The whole ball of wax. Warts and all. Real soul-searching, ‘did I make the right choice to vote to strike?’ kind of stuff.

    First off…yes, I made the right choice.

    Sorry, I’m rambling already, and I’m afraid I might ramble quite a bit more before my night is through, but this is keeping me up and I’ve got a lot to say, respond or react to, etc. Bear with me.

    Someone earlier said: this is all about money, either KSD will “win” (and it does sicken me a little to think of this in terms of “winning” or “losing” when both sides know that in coming to a strike, we have all lost and let our children down) and they won’t have to fund things that cost real dollars like smaller class size and better compensation, or KEA will “win” and that money will move. In essence, you are right. This is all about allocation. 86% of Kent teachers decided it’s time to address class size because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR THE KIDS.

    Please, in all honesty, ask yourself if 86% of the educators you know from your kids schools are really doing this for a raise. Are 86% of the teachers YOU KNOW actually greedy people who would let down the kids they love for this strike just to line their pockets with 3%?! Think of the actual faces, the actual teachers you know. Think about 10 of them. 9 out those 10 would do that?! Really?!

    THIS IS ABOUT CLASS SIZE!! You ask me “Will you accept a 0% raise if the district made a meaningful move on class size spending?” and I would first ask you kindly to wait to ask that question until KSD ACTUALLY PROPOSES such a thing, because so far, they haven’t (at least that I’ve heard of, and if I haven’t then I WILL BE FURIOUS AT MY UNION, but I’ll get to them [well, us] later.)

    But then I would reply that I would actually accept LESS pay increase than the district has already offered for a meaningful and actual CAP on class size, and I believe more than 50% of us would agree (and I make no actual claims on data to support that statement, but only mention it because I talk to a lot of teachers.)

    Kent School District is a big place. 1,700 teachers. I’m still a short-timer, but I have had the tremendous good fortune to land my first teaching job in a district with some of the most brilliant and wonderful educators, amazing people who have earned their students families’ respect, gratitude and accolades through a committment to being the best they can be. The majority of Kent teachers are good, a big chunk are extraordinary.

    You know who these teachers are. They are amazing teachers (your kids have had more than a few of them) because they love kids and because the job of teaching is, at it’s core, a blessing. To those who love it and can do it (and I mean can do it well with the justice the profession deserves) one can not imagine life doing anything else.

    And yes, there are some teachers that are not good and don’t care to improve and are sticking it out (and making themselves and their students suffer) just for the money, and yes, the union system protects them. I find that unfortunate. That is one aspect of union membership i do not like and why I would support things like Merit Pay, as long as it was a fair evaluation system that took into account not just data from tests, but also things like peer review, principal evaluations, participation and leadership within the school community, anonymous parent surveys, etc. Plus, I consider myself to be a VERY GOOD teacher (although verrry unseasoned, check me out in about 3-5 years, I think I’ll be awesome!) so I have a good feeling I would (and would prefer to) earn more pay that way than collectively bargaining an increase for all the teachers regardless of performance.

    So I guess to Big Joe up there a few posts back I would say I see where you’re coming from, I really do, but look at where I am coming from too.

    Because comparing teaching with other businesses only makes sense in some aspects, and only coincidentally.

    Those dedicated parents out there know that teaching is not just any old job. We don’t manufacture commodities. If we do our job well, it is based not only on our skill (i.e. our education, training, and professional development thus far) but is equal parts an art and a science, nuanced with interpersonal savvy, driven by dedication to kids.

    Our product is not tangible. But is it measurable? Of course! In a thousand ways it’s measurable. From WASL scores to number of hugs received from kids and parents, you can measure my success as a teacher. I know how I measure it. One student, one relationship at a time.

    Ramble nearly over…

    A few loose ends: I don’t like the tone some of my fellow teachers are taking. Let’s keep the high road, my friends. Let’s not stoop to calling out people on their spelling, or calling their level of knowledge on our issues ‘uninformed’. If they are uninformed, inform them. Don’t insult them. A parent or two here has said “you wouldn’t talk to parents of your students like that.” They are right. You wouldn’t. So don’t.

    Oh, and on second thought, I probably would take 0% and a cap of 20 in K-4, 26 in 5-6 and 30 in 7-12. For this year. Let them fix compensation and time (and I mean really fix them, not jerk us around again) next year when the economy’s chugging a little better (just for public perception’s sake, which like it or not, has to be taken into account, not because KSD can’t EASILY afford it this year also).

    I’ll be praying again tonight for my students, for my fellow teachers, for Dr. Vargas and Lisa Brackin-Johnson, Becky Hanks and Mike McNett, for all the families in our schools, and even for that guy who drove by and yelled at me for being greedy. For all of us, to end this (fairly) and get on with the “business” of teaching the kids that I miss so much.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I can sleep now.

    • CounterpointSue Says:

      Nicely state, Middle. I can tell you’re a great teacher. Who needs to wait 3-5 years? I especially agree with your plea to keep everything civil. The tone is getting unfriendly. I’m all in favor of a friendly debate of the issues.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    do we have school on tuesday???

  38. Rhonda Says:

    Today I tried to take my kid to school, and they said that there was no school. He wants to know why there is no school. I told him that the teachers are not happy with their work, and he says why don’t they get new teachers? I heard some people saying that not all teachers are good and that some teachers cannot be fired. I read all about how these school administrators are bad and corrupt but I dont understand why they have jobs if they are so bad.

    How are people supposed to figure out who is telling the truth and who is not when everything that everybody says is mean and angry and hateful? I dont like fighting, and all I read here is about teachers fighting and administrators fighting and everyone is fighting. You people are all way too angry. I cannot beleve some of these things I read here. Its like all that you care about is class sizes and contracts. No one here has anything good to say here.

    Do you realize that there are bigger things going on right now, like healthcare and Iraq? Who had time to care about your complaints? Do you think that everybody likes there job? Why cant people just get along and stop bickering and arguing? If you don’t like your job, then go get a different one. If you think that these people are crooks, then vote them out or something. Just stop arguing and complaining because no one wants to hear all of you complaining about losing money and benefits and everything. Who are these other people who are so bad? If they are so bad why do they still have jobs? Cant the politicians fire them?

    None of this makes sense to me and I bet there are a lot of people like me who feel the same way. Why cant someone just explain what the problem is so people can understand why our kids have to stay home from school?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      First of all, I love your email address (which I’m not posting, for those of you who are paranoid). Second, I would say the best way to find out about teacher issues is to stop by one of our picketing sites, perhaps the one at the school you intended to drop your daughter off at, and ask the teachers there what’s going on. I think you’ll learn more than you can here.

  39. shh Says:

    kenteducationassociation thou protest to much

  40. Parent of Kent Students Says:

    I am hearing a lot of statements on both sides of the issue saying everyone wants to be back in the classroom, but here we are, with no school again today. Everyone sees $21mm sitting out there, but in this day and age, that is a drop in the bucket and care needs to be taken when deciding to spend this money. City and state budgets are near collapse, not to mention the federal budget crunch. Freeze salaries for teachers and administrators for one year, hire emergency teachers in schools with the worst class size issues and get back to school. I am reading in here that teachers are upset at having to dust their classrooms or empty their own garbage. Are those the complaints being voiced in the meetings? For the sake of the kids, I really hope not…

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      The point is that the reserve fund is far larger than other Districts normally operate with because of cuts over time to basic services and programs. Teachers’ responsibilities continue to grow in realms that are separate and are separating us from students and learning. That’s why we’re fighting for lower class sizes and less meetings. I think that if our class sizes were to shrink down to reasonable levels and we were to get more time with our kids as a result, many, if not most KEA members would take a salary freeze for now.

      One other thing to point out is that KEA members already are taking a pay cut of sorts, because the voter approved COLA that we were promised was once again suspended by the legislature this year to make up for state budget gaps. Any increase we get at the table in compensation is first and foremost going to hold us steady or slow the decline in value of our salaries in comparison to inflation.

      I’m still waiting to hear when the last time was that Kent teachers received an increase in pay from Kent without having added work days or responsibilities. Anyone remember out there?

  41. Concerned Says:

    I am deeply concerned that we have people on here bashing teachers. YOU don’t teach. YOU don’t walk in our shoes. So instead of coming on here pretending to know what you are talking about, you should be asking questions and learning. I don’t dare to profess how doctors or food service workers should feel about their jobs. I don’t walk in their shoes.

    Many of you on here bring personal baggage and are targeting the very people who ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN–if you don’t care to believe that, that’s your choice. However, your negativity will spread to your own children (our students) and we as teachers know how that will affect your child’s viewpoint about school in general. If you want your child to have a positive experience, then set aside your personal problems, and look at this issue with trust…trust that teachers are doing what they can to improve education despite the fact that the mountain they are climbing is wrought with naysayers who emulate huge crevaces that divide us!!

  42. question Says:

    jimmy hoffa,
    your missing the point. The strike is occuring during a period of time w/o a contract, so any wording on the expired contract is no longer valid and references to it are irrelevant. The first day of the strike, aug27 before school started was during the timeframe of that contact, and could be consisdered a violation, but all these days since are occuring in the absence of a contract. Strikes generally occur during the period of time where an contract has expired, and a new one has not been sucessfully negotiated. This is the norm.

  43. KEA Substitute Says:

    As a retired teacher in Kent after spending 22 years in the classroom, I would challenge any of the bloggers to this site who are so vitriolic and uniformed about any of the issues that separate the KEA and the KSD to spend a month in the world I lived in every day. I have seen a teacher fired on the spot for a trivial issue. She left the building in tears. I have seen a teacher learn he wouldn’t have a job in the building where he had a job for many years but not learn it until he read in the student course catalog that what he taught was no longer going to be offered in his building. No administrator had bothered to tell him. I was passed over for awards other teachers received for doing the exact same thing I did. The KEA did not strike for “light and transient causes.” I am appalled by the misinformation that is out there. While it is true the KSD is offering a 3% raise, that raise is not across the board. And what the public is not hearing is that the KSD wants to eliminate what it called their “effective education program” which provided a means by which teachers could get paid for certain extra duties. It is my understanding that without that progam many teachers would actually be looking at anywhere from an 8% to 11% reduction in salary. For the last few years in my building all of us on the staff were in meetings all of the time. And we aren’t talking about MDT meetings, or parent conferences or IEP meetings which directly involve students. We are talking about workshops led by administrators which typically were all substance and no content. We are talking about staff meetings to disseminate information which could have been sent in a building email. And as to the information regarding teacher’s salaries being quoted by some bloggers; it is utter nonsense. My highest salaried year was never higher than 55.000 dollars and change. I will admit I chose not to earn a masters degree which would have certainly raised my salary some, but I made a choice to be a father to my only daughter. However, that being said after my 16th year of experience where the KSD’s salary schedule bottoms out I was on a fixed income for the remaining 14 years of my teaching career in Kent. Many COLA’s were promised by the state in those years but none were delivered including the last COLA I might have gotten which was voted on the people in an initiative which that year’s legislative session overturned.

    We are talking about a local teacher’s union who has not had a labor dispute of this magnitude since 1976 some 33 years ago. The KEA does not have a history of doing anything for “light and transient,” But after a long train of abuses and usurpations,” including overcrowded classrooms, meetings ad-nauseum, de-facto salary cuts, and dictatorial administrative edicts from both the district and building level, and a general lack of respect for who we are and what we are expected to do, the teaching staff represented by the KEA in Kent finally and rightfully decided that they had had enough. I unequivocally support this strike and believe the teachers in Kent should not return to the classroom until an agreement both the KEA and the KSD is in place. I congratulate the parents in the Kent community who are currently supporting the position of the KEA and would encourage those folks who oppose the strike or are undecided to get the FACTS from as wide a variety of reliable of sources and then weigh in one side or the other. As a 22 year veteran teacher of the Kent School District, and a one time bargaining member for the KEA I know of what I speak. I have been there and done that and understand fully why the KEA has taken the stance it has. I thank you for listening.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      You kind of have your facts mixed up, because before the 3% was offered, the District first threatened us in the Spring with taking away all Effective Education, and only paying our salary schedule as a threat during early bargaining.

  44. wwake up Says:

    KEANTEDUCATION ASSOCIATION, you cant be serious in your remarks about making a profit. Remember where your revenue stream comes from. The taxpayers. Please do not put schools in the same category as private or public business. If you want to do that then we can get on the topic of salaried exept professionals. Teachers want to be treated as salaried professions, well in business a salaried exempt employee works more that 8 hours a day to get the job done for the same pay. You have also stated that teachers are leaving the district and going elsewhere, where are they going there are no jobs out there.

    • rupert Says:

      Many good teachers have left in the years previous to the strike. These issues have been building for years. I know a few teachers who left this summer and found jobs in other states. There aren’t as many jobs, but they are out there.

  45. KEA Substitute Says:

    After hearing Dr. Vargas in his news conference asking for a court injunction it sounds like the KSD is continuing to conduct business as usual. Instead of bargaining with the KEA in good faith it instead is resorting to its usual heavy handed tactics.

    I trust the KEA will continue to work towards a resolution both the KEA and the KSD can live with, but this legal action on the part of the KSD does not seem much like a step in the right direction!

  46. sleeplessinkent Says:

    I am a KSD employee at the administration center. Today at lunch I talked with a driver who, when driving a KSD truck with supplies for the kitchen at Glenridge Elementary, was booed by picketing teachers as she drove into the school parking lot. I am appalled at this rude behavior. Yes, this KSD employee is working during the strike, working to deliver supplies needed to get a school kitchen up and running so it’s ready when the students and teachers do return to the classroom. She also delivers lunches for kids to various locations in Kent where the summer lunch program has been extended because students who usually receive free lunches in school aren’t receiving them because the teachers are on strike. So come on teachers…. you want respect…. then you’d better give it. We’re all here for the children.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      I will pass along this to the strike organizers that work with Glenridge teachers and staff. We get disappointed when our picket lines are crossed, but we need to remember that District employees are forced to do their jobs because of their no strike clause. Sometimes emotions run high. Thanks for the input.

  47. MSteacherwholovesherjob Says:

    Just a quick comment after reading many of the messages left on this blog. I love my job, my students, my parents, my principal, my fellow teachers and would much prefer to be in my classroom than out in front of my school. I didn’t get into education to make the big bucks. It would be nice not to be 80th however.

    But the truth is, as someone who has been following the lack of progress in these negotiations for a long time, the district is not being fair or honest. They are using their funds to get their message out when KEA doesn’t have the funds to compete. There is no 3% raise on the table without the addition of more work days. The district has offered no relief on class size and has reported false numbers for many of my colleague’s classrooms last year. Too many meetings take away from planning and from time that could be spent with your children.

    As far as real world, I don’t know of a lot of other jobs that expect you to pay for continuing education to keep your job. There are not many jobs where you are paid for only 7.5 hours of work when realistically you need to put in 10 hours daily for several months of the year to make sure your workplace is an engaging place for your children to be. I make this commitment because I love my job and my community.

    Finally, I want to say that in the days since the strike began 95% of the responses we have received from our community have been positive. Parents and grandparents, former students, and other community members have been very supportive. Before you judge our union and our teachers, please check out the facts and make a just decision.


  48. Parent Says:

    My 1st grader wants to know why the teachers and the school district don’t use Kelso’s choices to settle their differences? That’s her perspective on the whole thing – she says that’s what the teachers tell her to do when she has an argument with a classmate. She just wants to go back to school. Please.

    • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

      That’s sweet, and I use Kelso too! I’m glad she has taken that to heart, and I hope she sees her teacher very soon.

      This situation is a little complex for Kelso, I guess.

  49. MultipleStakeholder Says:

    Dear Fellow Parents,
    I am someone whose “information streams” come from KSD admin, KEA, the state department of education, and most recently, the Washington State Bar Association. I am a KSD teacher, but I also work in other districts.

    I got “reports” about the press conference regarding the injunction from each of the above sources today… and each group had a totally different perspective of what occurred. I watched the news coverage– and it did not match what site admin are being told, nor did it match what we teachers are being told. If you are following the strike, please read and listen to all sides.

    I know how to fill cross-district paperwork. I’m willing to take on an extra job to send my kids to private school. Instead, I’m choosing to stick with Kent, because the teachers are wonderful. If you are frustrated, please go talk to some of those picketing. The teachers want school to start– but it’s time for some safety and accountability issues to be fixed.

    After getting my two auto-calls tonight (one in error?), I again am disheartened at the district leadership’s approach. We can get through this– but please continue to support your children’s teachers. They are there for your kids– 100%. Some people say, “why don’t you go to another district if you are unhappy?” I say, “Please, don’t go– I need YOU for my kids.”

    Thanks everybody for hanging tight, for thinking carefully, and for staying positive and remembering the ultimate goal is the best for our children.

  50. Proudparentsupportingkea Says:

    I received two automated phone calls today from Dr. Vargas. The first one was to inform me that there was no school tomorrow, Monday August 31st. Which I should have recieved on Sunday evening not Tuesday. I just laughed and hung up. Then not even 30 minutes later I received another automated call from Dr. Vargas explaining the injunction. Neither call had a number to contact back with further questions. I think the information desk received too many phone calls from the first calls to allow him to use the number again.

    I would like all of the KEA teachers that there are parents out here and other community members that support you all. I went to the candle light vigil and I could not believe the out pouring of support that was received by all that showed and people driving or walking by.

    My children do want to go back to school. I want my children back in school. But not with teachers forced to work. I am afraid that if you all are forced back into the classrooms then there is going to be animosity among the teachers that voted for the strike and ones that did not. And if you are not happy with being there the kids are going to feel this and it is going to make the 30+ kids in classes very hard to manage.

    Keep fighting we are here for you all. Good luck. Our prayers are with you all!

  51. Cici Says:

    I will be going to NM-courthouse to see the outcome this afternoon – hoping school will be in session tomorrow –

  52. Marj Njaa Says:

    I am keeping you all in my thoughts. Stand strong. I am so disappointed that the judge ordered you back. So sad that your district is more concerned with being in control than in finding common ground during bargaining. As a Marysville teacher and a member of our “Crisis Team” during our strike I know what you are going through today. Know that you have the support of your colleagues around the state.

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