UNABELIEVABLE! After 51 hours of not negotiating, KSD files injunction

In a shocking and outrageous maneuver, the Kent School District filed an injuction against the Kent Education Association in an attempt to halt the current teachers’ strike through bullying and intimidation, rather than by negotiating in good faith.    Despite District claims, bargaining had been going slowly prior to today’s action.  KEA received the KSD’s last communication through the state-appointed mediator sometime around noon on Sunday.   KEA’s response a few hours later was met with silence– 51 hours of silence, to be precise.  Instead of continuing negotiation, KSD chose instead to stall while they waited to serve the KEA’s leaders with the injunction.

  • What is an injunction? It is a legal process in which the district asks a Superior Court judge to rule that our work stoppage is irreparably harming Kent School District students. The judge can approve or reject the request, or order another remedy such as additional bargaining sessions. If the judge grants an injunction, employees will be ordered to return to work. Membership will then decide their next steps to win a fair contract.  
  • KEA’s message to its members and supporters:  Don’t panic, this is a tactic that we anticipated given the district’s reluctance to bargain.This strategy is considered bullying…we won’t back down or run away, but instead we will stand up to them…there are over 1,600 members united in our cause.

As of the time of this posting, KEA is reviewing the claims by the District in the injunction.  It seems from a preliminary examination that the KSD’s main argument is that after only two days of delay to the beginning of the school year, students’ education in Kent is being irrepairably damaged, that Seniors are now in jeopardy of not graduating or getting admissions to college, and that our high needs kids will be unable to catch up if the strike continues.  It makes KEA members wonder what will happen to all of the students in other Districts who are starting as late as the 8th, 9th, or 10th of  this month?  Of course, this is obviously completely laughable.  In fact, one reporter in the KSD newsconference held to announce the injunction today directly asked Superintendent Vargas how Kent’s students were being damaged, when Bellevue’s strike went 9 days before any legal action was taken by that District.  Vargas’ nervous response was that the District only wants kids back in the classroom, because the District cares about our kids.  Some KEA members were left wondering how Vargas could care about kids he had never met or had any knowledge of….

While the District continues to claim that it is working towards a settlement, KEA’s head bargainer, Mike McNett, begs to differ.  Superintendent Vargas’ claims in his earlier letter to staff and automated calls to parents that KEA had rejected offers to increase teacher compensation by 3% and alleviate class size issues, were intentionally misleading, he said.  McNett responded, “I wish we’d seen the sort of things at the bargaining table as he described them in the letter.  If they were really making proposals like that, we’d probably have a settlement by now.   Any claims that they have offered language that meaningfully addressed class size, caseload, or meetings are totally misleading.”  Instead, McNett described the District’s behavior at the bargaining table since the strike vote last Wednesday as, “a rehash of earlier proposals, combined with what was obviously a set of delay tactics.  They were waiting to see if KEA members would actually participate in the strike, in the hopes that a poor turnout by KEA members on the picket line would mean a quick victory for them.  When it was obvious that KEA members were out in force and things weren’t likely to change, they chose to go to the courts rather than actually try to accomplish anything at the bargaining table.”

How did KEA members react to the news of the injunction?  Despite the fact that KSD scheduled a clandestine press conference to announce the injunction, KEA members responded with righteous indignation.  Most KEA members had spent the second day in a row on the picket line during their normal 7.5 hour workday, and were preparing to head home when they got the news.   Over 200 KEA members attended the press conference in the Board Room of the District office.  This was despite efforts by some KSD Administrators to block their access to the meeting.  Representatives of the WEA were on hand to prevent the District from blocking members’ rightful access to the press conference. Dr. Vargas read through a prepared statement. He was questioned by the media who asked about his experience in strikes, why he is filing for an injunction so early, and what percentage of the community is behind him? He had limited to no response. The members who managed to make it into the meeting voiced their concerns, and Vargas was escorted out by Assistant Superintendent Mari Reiger and Spokesperson Becky Hanks as a result. Afterwards, KEA President Lisa Brackin-Johnson told reporters that KEA was extremely upset with the KSD’s ambush tactics and bullying, and repeated our call to settle the issues at the bargaining table through collaboration.  In addition, 200 other KEA members lined the sidewalk in front of the KSD Administration complex, picketing and chanting, “Smaller Class Size Just for Kids!!”  In less than 30 minutes, KEA was able to mobilize 400 members from individual sites to the district office. Absolutely incredible …

While KEA and KSD slug it out in the courtroom, we call upon our community members and supporters to put pressure on the School Board and Dr. Vargas to settle this contract.  It is our belief that the School Board is not actively or adequately pushing their Bargaining Team to find creative solutions to the issues we have identified.  We believe that if the School Board would take a more active and direct role in the bargaining process, a solution could still be reached that will not leave KEA members even more angry and disenchanted with the District. 

You can find the contact info for the School Board here:  http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/KSD/BD/meetboard.htm

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92 Responses to “UNABELIEVABLE! After 51 hours of not negotiating, KSD files injunction”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Whether you believe in the strike or not you need to believe in the teachers who direct the education for our children. They are in those classrooms everyday and they understand the problems that come with overcrowding and lack of time in the classroom. I want my kids back in school but not in a classroom of 30 children, there is less time for one on one or even one on two instruction. REspect their opinions and ask what you can do to help them. They don’t ask for much just for what is best for the children they are there to teach. Our future is the children in those classroom and we need to ensure they have a fair opportunity to learn. The Kent School District needs to remember where they came from and make an honest offer, they have had a long time to figure it out. It’s not like they didn’t know what was coming.

  2. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    Well, whatever happens, for the love of all that is good and decent and holy, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE….do NOT settle before Sept 8th

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/10582301/President-Obama%E2%80%99s-Address-to-Students-Across-America-September-8-2009

  3. D.G. Says:

    Mark these words. The injunction will be held up as they have in the past. The Union will cave returning to the table because they know the next step would be in a court of law where the verdict wouldn’t be in their favor. Thus at longgggggggg last putting the legality of strikes in this state to bed.

    That won’t happen – the bullies recant – they take a “lesser” offer. The attorney general of the Washington State says teacher strikes are illegal. Others (the vast majority being legally naive) contend otherwise. It’s possible that a higher court might side with the unions but if they think that a possibility why would they cave? They cave because they know they hold very poor cards. Because they are bullies of the worst sort. Worse than school yard child bullies that have dominated PTA discussions for a least a decade!

    So like Texas Hold-Em, you fold when chances of losing are high. Then the Superintendent and school board negotiates understandably because they don’t want to rattle the teachers any more than necessary. They don’t want to take the heat of upset parents and they don’t want the kids out of school any longer than days, sometimes weeks, and rarely months. Back to work until next contract time. History repeats itself over and over and over and over.

    I say let’s get this settled legally once and for all. If we lose those of us that can take our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to private schools. That’s not much of a loss anyway especially in larger populated areas. The public School system goes down the drain and so does the nation. Over and over and over and over.

    There’s a small possibility that the union wouldn’t budge (ha-ha-ha-ha) and that the court would hold teachers in violation of the law dealing severe penalties. That would end this long debate creating avenues for merit pay, higher wages, and a better educated teaching environment where management, employee, unions, parents, and most of all children win. NEVERGIVENUPNEVERGIVEUP…………….

    • Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

      I’m just curious…Have you volunteered in our public school classrooms?

      You may want to read this again:
      http://www.atg.wa.gov/opinion.aspx?section=topic&id=5736

      Who is really getting hurt by lowering class sizes? The English speaking child in a class full of non-English speaking children? Or the non-English speaking child who has to take a standardized test in English?

      These children have lost nothing – they will still get 180 days of education and services regardless of when school starts. If anything, they have gained more time to enjoy their parents. And if that’s unbelievable, at least the parents will enjoy more time with their own kids, and the knowledge that someone is finally advocating for children in public schools.

      What will be lost is time to help a child. What will be lost is time to contact a parent. What will be lost is compensation for the 3-5 hours of work teachers do at home infront of the television or at the computer or at the kitchen table while their family eats dinner or their children do their own homework.

      In this state there is a law suit against the State of Washington to get the state to “pay up” for education. And the Snohomish County Sheriff will be having information out today about early childhood education as a preventative measure for keeping kids out of jail – he said most folks in jail don’t have a high school diploma (check out KING5). Why is that? Class size? Teacher work load?

      I’m just curious…Are you volunteering in the schools to make a difference in a child’s life? Seems to me when a child is lost or missing, it takes way more volunteers than law enforcement to find the clues to find that child.

  4. Hello Says:

    For years, this union was not proactive. As a result, it started this slow downhill spiral that left their members in a pit of hissing snakes (aka KSD admin). Kent teachers have been victimized for years in this district.

    Thankfully, our current leadership in KEA has the backbone to protect its members. They could easily choose to take the easier road as what happened just four years ago, but they will not.

    Those against unions don’t fully understand their purpose. Google the shirtwaist factory fire and learn something.

  5. Len Dawson Says:

    The union certainly might lose this one in court. Between the attorney general and what happened in Issaquah in 2002, there is reason enough to be concerned about that happening. I will remain hopeful that a good and fair judge will look at what the district has done in not even remotely bargaining in good faith for over a year and realize who truly is mostly responsible for causing this situation as it is right now.

  6. Kentlake Parent Says:

    Kudos to Dr. Vargas for standing strong and filing this injunction to get our kids back in school!!

    • HS Teacher Says:

      I’m not sure you know what you’re asking for. You want your kid in school with so many other kids that the teacher can’t possibly meet YOUR child’s needs?

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Last year, in my class of 40 students, I did not learn every kids’ name for 2 months. Helping individuals goes out the window at that point, and we are left with talking to the group and hoping it sticks to as many as we can. We know this in our daily lives. If you have a large family and you need to get a particular point across to them, is it more effective to talk to them each individually, personalizing the message to their personality and level of comprehension, or to simply make an announcement to the whole group? Now amplify that to a class full of teenagers….. Are you getting a mental picture?

    • teachersarenottheenemy Says:

      did you see the video??? he didn’t look very strong to me.

    • KSD Student Says:

      How exactly is hiding away from the public eye, publishing blatant lies, and then treating our good teachers like criminals “standing strong”?

      Seems like signs of a coward to me.

    • Kentlake Student Says:

      This injunction is Dr. Vargas way of bullying the teachers. I support the KEA, because as a student I know they have my best interest at heart, unlike the district. Don’t get me wrong, I want to get back to school, but not until the district is willing to be fair. Where is the compromise?

    • Charles Allen Says:

      Kudos to Dr. Vargas?

      *Comment portion deleted for violating Blog policies

      Shame on the administration, shame on Dr. Vargas, and shame on any parent who believes that siding with these liars and thieves will result in anything less than reducing our public education system to more of a travesty than it already is.

  7. KSD Student Says:

    We don’t usually start school until later in September anyway. So I’m not sure exactly how they figure that starting a little later is going to hurt me that much. You know what? I don’t care if my graduation is pushed back a week, or even a few. I’m still going to get the same number of days in school. I’m still going to have the same cool teachers. I’m still going to go to Western next fall.

    Whatever. This is garbage, and I’ll be back out picketing today…

  8. Concerned Kent Parent Says:

    That’s right Jimmy Hoffa, I could live without ‘O’ganda in the classroom, I think that would take away from learning time. I will continue to support the teachers despite Dr. Vargas.

  9. Please consider... Says:

    I have two things to say:

    First, it saddens me to hear the turn out at in the board room celebrated. Whether you agree with it or not, this was a meeting between the Superintendent and the media. The people who charged in were trespassing and lucky that no one pressed charges. More importantly, what are we teaching our kids? I watched the uncut video on KIRO7 and it is embaressing that our teachers could be so rude and act like such a mob. I question whether I want my kids educated by the group that attended that meeting. Please review the video for yourself at KIRO7. I would hope that these kinds of actions are not encourage.

    Second, please take a second to read the injuction. I would encourage both sides to read everything on the table (all documents). A lot of misinformation is out there. In addition to the above, the injunction also speaks to all the kids that aren’t being fed and classified staff not getting paid in September.

    If this is truely about kids then please review all of the facts and truely think about the 40% – 50% of our kids that are on free and reduce lunch not getting food.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      The press conference was called without notifying KEA until 30 minutes before. There was no time to organize our members or inform them of do’s and don’ts, only to get a presence there. The behavior inside the conference was a direct result of teachers acting on the emotion of the moment. This was compounded by the fact that the press conference was an official action of the school district that any taxpayer or member of the community has every right to attend. District officials trying to bar people from entering was completely out of bounds, and only served to rile up the people that were there. This was an ambush, pure and simple.

      You are right, about a ton of misinformation. We’re working to get more posts up here on the blog and on http://www.kentschools.org to explain our position and the issues at hand.

      • concerned parent Says:

        School district news conferences are open to parents, students and taxpayers who want to attend. They cannot be closed to the public. But rudeness and inappropriate behavior are inexcusable. The union shouldn’t have to tell its members how to behave. They’re adults with common sense and should behave as such.

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      Well, if I were a teacher, I would be embarrassed to have whoever that was speaking on behalf of the teachers being the spokesperson. She seemed absolutely clueless.

    • Kent Resident Says:

      The Kent School District Administration Building is NOT private property, it is public property paid for by my tax dollars. Many of those teachers who were there also live in the district and pay their taxes to the district. They should not be barred from public places any more than should the general public. Whether you agree with their behavior or not (at times I think it was appropriate, at times inappropriate), their RIGHT to be there should not be questioned.

      • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

        Well, following your logic, anybody should be able to waltz into any school any time of day, no questions asked.

      • Please consider... Says:

        Let’s be clear, public buildings are not public spaces. When was the last time you could go wherever and whenever you wanted in a court building, city hall, fire stations, capital building, or the Whitehouse? These are all tax payer paid for buildings. When was the last time you could enter a school building without checking in with the office and getting approval to move around the building? Just because we paid for it, does not mean we own it. Would you want a group of 150 or more people to rush a school and just allowed to do whatever they wanted? Sorry, but they didn’t have the right to be there. Try it at a city hall, county, or capital building press conference and see what happens. Let’s not reinforce or justify bad behavior. It’s OK to acknowledge a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

    • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

      we’re teaching our kids to stand up for their rights. we did nothing wrong in that board room, except a little MILD civil disobedience, which has a long, proud history in our country. No one was hurt, don’t worry.

      Our custodial staff is working overtime like crazy, our admin assistants are at work every day. IAs are standing with us in support, and will work as soon as we do.

    • NotateacherbutstillKEA Says:

      A mob? I happened to be one of the lucky hundred who got in, and I guarantee you, it was not a mob. Mobs yell, call names and obscenities, and commit violence. Yes, emotions were running high, and to get the first look at the person who is supposedly our leader, who has shown us nothing but disrespect, disdain, and lack of leadership, and to hear him say that the district has bargained in good faith, and that the decision to seek an injunction was a “difficult decision” – I’m sorry but we had to laugh. To hear their lies in person was just too much. It appears the decision to seek an injunction was made immediately after the strike vote, even before children missed any school and were “irreparably harmed”. There were days left to bargain and come up with an agreement. Instead, the district chose to bully and intimidate. In addition, I don’t believe any KEA members behaved inappropriately. Most of the more-assertive behavior came from a WEA media consultant/liaison person, and that’s his job. You may not like it, but it wasn’t one of your children’s teachers. I also have kids in KSD and I would be proud to have my children’s teachers be people who stand up for their beliefs and for the betterment of not only current students but future generations of students.

      • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

        I was in there too, and believe me, it was not like we planned to laugh at his comments. It erupted spontaneously because of the OUTRAGEOUS disingenuousness of a couple of Vargas’s comments.

        Really, it was a tough decision to file this injunction 4 days into a strike?

        The spontaneous outburst was over as quickly as it began.

  10. kentteacher Says:

    My take: Bottom line is, the district is bullying us. Again. As Lisa Brackin-Johnson said yesterday after the press conference, the district is running away from the bargaining table and the issues. The courts cannot make class sizes smaller or limit meetings. Only bargaining will do that, and the district seems unwilling to find a resolution to the issues. Also, there WILL be 180 days of school this year, same as last year, and the year before, and………. The students will still be getting their education this year. I just hope it’s a better one because of smaller class sizes and time with teachers.

  11. PDX Chris Says:

    Be careful, teachers. I’m behind you in what you are seeking, but don’t underestimate your opponents and their ability to twist the truth to match the anger of the community at school being delayed. There’s a large swell of anti-government, anti-union sentiment out there that’s being tapped by this legal maneuver, and momentum for your cause could be tampled under it’s emotional outburst.

    Too many people out there view teachers as overpaid, glorified babysitters whom could be replaced by any bum off the street with a piece of chalk and a whip. These are the same people that you have to deal with every year during parent-teacher conferences that obviously don’t care about their child’s education and just use school as state-funded day-care, and blame YOU when little Johnny acts up and lashes out. They are compounded by the ignorant minority that don’t have children and don’t want to or care to understand how vital a strong public education system is to society.

    Teachers, your hearts and minds are in the right place. However, it might be a good PR move if you were to publically state that you were abandoning one of your objectives (pay raises) during this contact negotiation to focus on the other two, which directly impact the level of care and service that you give to the students. That you’ll shelve the compensation part of your demands in an effort to direct attention to the issues of class size and overloading meetings. I agree, being at the bottom of the pay scale against your fellow Puget Sound teacher peers isn’t optimal, and in fact, should be AGGRESSIVELY FOUGHT FOR, but unfortunately, in this economy, it’s hurting your total cause.

  12. Lake Youngs Parent Says:

    I am sickened that the district would choose to take this action in my name. I did write to Dr. Vargas prior to this press conference and here’s what I said to him:

    “I support the teachers and I have faith that your bargaining teams can come to a compromise that shows your respect for the work these men and women do. The teachers I’ve spoken to over the past several weeks feel unappreciated and beaten down by policies that keep them from putting their energy and passion into their classrooms. I beg of you: listen to them, respect them, find the solution that shows you mean to improve this district. I know you are new to your position, so I hope to see the enthusiasm and creativity that fresh blood can bring to old issues.

    Please find a compromise that will make my son’s teacher feel valued when he returns to the classroom. Be the leader you were hired to be.”

    This is not compromise and it is not leadership. I hope the judge sees this move for the power play it is.

    • concerned parent Says:

      Well said, LYP. If only the superintendent had listened. Although, he reports to the board, so that’s five people we can’t forget to address in this fiasco.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Thank you so much for your support. So much for Dr. Vargas’s claims that “virtually all of the parents are in support of the district”

    • ITeach Says:

      Lake Youngs Parent,
      Thank you so much for your eloquent letter to Dr. Vargas.

  13. KentLakesMom Says:

    Let me begin by saying I SUPPORT the teachers and their fight for better working conditions.

    BUT, I am extremely disappointed in the behavior of the teachers at the news conference where Supt. Vargas announced the injunction. The union talks about wanting respect, but no respect was given with all the heckling and booing. I would be ashamed if my children acted that way and I was shocked at the behavior those teachers (who are teaching my kids!) displayed at the news conference.

    It was very ‘entertaining’ on TV, but it does not support your cause.

    • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

      Sorry KentLakesMom, we are angry. If in our zeal we were a little rowdy, so be it. I was in there, there were short outbursts of applause, short outbursts of laughter, and a few people raised their voice in spontaneous anger. Our best moment? No. But lets not make more of it than it really is because it just distracts from the real issue.

      We did not want this strike. I am truly sorry for doing it. In a situation like this, there is no winning, only degrees of losing. At my building, we talked extensively in the months coming up to this about how hard of a choice this would be to do to our community and families, I’m sure these conversations occurred in all of our Kent Schools because we do grasp the gravity of the choice to strike.

      86% of us made the tough choice to do it anyway, knowing that a lot of families would support us unquestioningly because they trust us. Also knowing that a lot of families would not, but may come around, and that some would never swallow it or forgive us for it. It was a tough, but not a reckless decision.

      • FortheKids Says:

        It’s OK to be angry, but your students are watching this and might come to the conclusion that teachers can be rude and have outbursts. So if they get angry and get get rude in the classroom…

        An apology is what I expect when people are impolite, not justification.

      • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

        FortheKids.

        You will notice that the first word of my post there was the word sorry.

        If kids come to the conclusion that teachers can be rude and have outbursts, then I would say they are very astute observers of human nature.

        One of the first lessons I teach my kindergarteners is that EVERYBODY makes mistakes, but smart people learn from them.

        If I get the opportunity to experience Dr. Vargas speak about this strike again, I will have learned to clamp my hand tightly over my mouth at all times to stifle any spontaneous laughter, and to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor.

  14. Denise Says:

    my kids want to go to school

  15. Tyler Says:

    I’m not a very political person, and all I really care about is getting back in to school. I don’t trouble myself with the details from either side because this is mudslinging at it’s best.

    Again, I don’t know/care about the issues. I just want to be in school. I don’t care which side gets me there quicker… I just want to be in there learning. So I think that the district is doing what it needs to do to get people back in the classrooms so that they can work it out through the school year. And I also don’t know why they couldn’t start bargaining during the summer! It could’ve gone without affecting us as students.

    It’s obvious that the innerworkings of the district are complicated. The Bus Drivers, Lunch people, and so many more cannot do any of their jobs until students are back in school. And I will immediately fall to the district’s support if teachers go against the law and do not cease the strike if asked by the King County Superior Court.

    It’s obvious that the teachers are fighting for something they believe in, but it’s really not the time to strike, the economy is crap and people are lucky to have jobs right now.

    • KSD Student Says:

      Hey Tyler,
      They have been bargaining for a LONG time. KEA warned the district that a strike would be likely if something didn’t change, and that was MONTHS ago. Since then, the district has only met with the KEA bargaining team a handful of times, but KEA has been willing to go 24/7 for a long time.

      I want to get back to school too, but not at the expense of the teachers I love and care about.

      If this isn’t the time to strike, then when? They don’t get to negotiate a contract every year. Yeah the economy is bad, but it’s not hitting everyone equally. If KSD was in the hole like other sectors of the government, I too would question this. The district has money though. They made a profit last year. They are not being hit by the recession, so it’s a moot point. Yes people are lucky at jobs, but they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their working conditions for them. Your teachers work overtime without pay. That’s not alright.

      If you have ever in your life had a teacher that you respected, you should support the KEA now.

    • Another Kent Teacher Says:

      I agree that the economy is not in a good place, and my husband has had a number of furlough days over the last year. We can’t save for retirement or get our debts paid down, but we understand that when the economy picks up, we can catch up then.

      Tyler, when will you be able to “catch up” on missed educational opportunities? Maybe you don’t even know you’re missing something, but you are. Your teachers know it. They know what they could be giving you in improved quality if they didn’t have irrlevant meetings to attend, could direct their time on workshop days to improving their own practice, could give you more challenging material instead of teaching to the middle out of necessity, etc. They know all the ways they’re giving you forced mediocrity, and it makes them angry. They know the KSD could give you more, but they won’t. It makes them sad and angry. I appreciate that you want to get back to school as soon as possible. We do too! But this is injunction is just another example of the district trying to force teachers to do something instead of working with them for solutions.

      Right now, I’m not feeling so “lucky” to have this job. Teachers in almost all the districts around us make more money, have this class size language, and have more teacher-directed time to help students. Am I lucky to seemingly be working in the worst school district (for teachers) in the area? People may say, “If you don’t like it, get a job in a different district.” I grew up in Kent and live here. I like this community and my students. I don’t want to give up on them. I believe in fighting for what’s right, not just walking away. This is why I am on strike and not already working for another district. It is sad that I am fighting for you, Tyler, to get what students in districts around us already have. It is even more sad that the district doesn’t seem to care that they are not giving you the best they could.

  16. thecontractexpired Says:

    http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/ksd/cr/budget/budget_negotiations/budget_negotiations/budget_negotiations/html/documents/08_30_09KEAProposal.pdf

    If you read the very top of our offer to KSD it says this offer is a package deal and will be withdrawn if not accepted on Aug 30th 2009.

    I hope that our team wasn’t REALLY just waiting.

  17. Henry Noble Says:

    Sept 2

    KEA rocks! I support you and want to help. What can I do? I’m neither a Kent teacher nor do I have kids in your schools but I value public education and respect the tremendous job teachers do. I think this is a perfect time for leaders to shine who would be willing to defy an injunction even if it means time in jail.

    I’m a retired member of IAM 751 at Boeing and affiliated with the Freedom Socialist Party.

    In solidarity

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Kent parents are holding a rally at the Kent School District Administration office today (Wed) at 3 pm. While KEA is not involved in the organizing of this event, we support it, and many of our members plan on stopping by. Hope you can join us then. Otherwise, please contact the School Board and Superintendent as soon as possible, and let your voice be heard by them. If they get directly involved, this strike will end.

  18. Tim Says:

    I have to say that I was slightly appalled at the KEA’s behavior in the press conference. The District’s move was not “shocking and outrageous,” but the KEA’s response was. Shouting at Vargas while he read his statement, laughing at points you disagreed with and generally being rude did not cast the union in a very good light. Going so far as to say you’d continue to strike even if ordered back to work by the courts does not set a good example. Barging into the press conference and cornering Vargas – to the point he needed a police escort – was uncalled for. Shame on *you* KEA.

    I understand the KEA is upset and thinks KSD is doing everything in its power to make sure teachers don’t get what they want. In my opinion, this whole engagement is fed by misinformation, misconceptions and too much of an “us vs. them” attitude. Everyone reads into the data what they want and spreads it around as gospel. Example? Vargas’ salary compared to former superintendent Grohe. What were the figures? $180,000 for Grohe, $240,000 for Vargas, right? Seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it? These figures don’t adequately convey each package’s true compensation. This story helps:

    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/south_king/ken/news/40670963.html

    “According to District General Counsel Charles Lind, the new superintendent’s salary will be $240,000 per year, plus an $833-per-month car stipend to reimburse the superintendent for using his own vehicle during official travel. The stipend is in lieu of a district-provided vehicle. Vargas also will receive full medical and dental, life insurance, the state retirement plan and 30 vacation days.

    According to Lind, the total is similar to Grohe’s compensation package, which totals $261,000. Lind said Grohe’s base salary is lower than Vargas’, but the board wanted to be clear about the compensation and opted to include most of the additional financial benefits as a part of salary instead of as additional benefits.”
    ———–
    The figures alone don’t tell the story, which means whoever finds them can make up whatever story they want. Not only that, the KEA has put plenty of spin on its communications. Class size is one of the most important bargaining points, correct? More time with students is the goal. Then how does relief pay, to the tune of $25 per student (over a certain number of students), per day translate to more time? That seems motivated by compensation. What about classes like band that are meant to have 40+ kids? The heavily-spun KEA cliff notes (http://kentschools.org/index.php/contract-proposals.html) don’t address the impacts of their demands. No wonder the District has refused this stuff – it’s ludicrous and would prove onerous for any school District.

    Truthfully, I can’t side with either entity. I certainly support smaller class sizes and would love teachers to have a true 7.5 hour workday. I know teachers work the equivalent of a full time job in 9 months. I know the work requires personal time on evenings and weekends. I feel bad for the teachers having to face parents who have no idea what it takes to teach 150 kids. I had to deal with it too when my wife taught high school. Now that the District has (likely) taken away the ability for teachers to strike, what power do they have to help ensure the union gets what it wants? On top of that, facing the ridicule and wrath of so many posts on message boards just adds to the pain and feeling of helplessness. The teachers are battling up an increasingly steep hill.

    I feel for you.

    On the other hand, the District is caught in a tremendously difficult budget situation. Their counter-proposals show this. Every concession they make to the KEA costs money that has to come from somewhere else in the District. Laying off a sizeable portion of their administration workforce wasn’t done to divert more money into their own hands. There’s no greedy mastermind behind the scenes pulling the strings. It’s easy to make the District look that way, and doing so is a great tactic when you have to get a bunch of people on the same side. I get it: the District is evil, they don’t care about the kids, they disrespect teachers, they’re selfish money hoarders. Every day-long wait without negotiations is a stall tactic, every counter proposal is bullying. Get out the pitch forks!

    Seriously? Enough is enough. Even if teachers are ordered back to work, negotiations will continue and an agreement will be reached. Approaching those negotiations sans the martyrdom would be a breath of fresh air. Leave the emotion at home – everyone is working hard at this on both sides.

    I feel worst for Vargas. He’s very new to the District and now will probably be thought of as a union-busting, against-the-teachers superintendent when he hasn’t had the opportunity to move the District forward.

    I’m just getting tired of this, as I’m sure many of you are.
    Here’s to hoping it gets resolved soon.

    • Teacher in Kent Says:

      I was one of those people that “barged” into the news conference. I would just like to set the record straight. First of all, like it was stated by kentassociation, we had every right to be there. It was a public forum. Second of all, to paint all those in the room in the same light is false. While I will admit there were a few individuals who did interupt the Superintendent, 95% of those in attendence were abolutely silent for most of the news conference. There were only maybe 2 times that the the room as a whole interupted Dr. Vargas, and those were due to extreme misinformation that he stated. In fact most people in the audience were trying to keep a respectful atmosphere during the news conference. In watching only what is reported on the news, you are not going to get the whole story. They usually will sensationalize things to make the story sound more interesting. Finally to state that the the move by the district was not shocking is completely true. I agree to this because this is the same kind of underhanded tactics they have been taking from the get-go. From April until mid-August the District showed little desire to discuss the issues. They would agree to meet every couple of weeks and then show up late or unprepared to bargain. All they have done is stall. Prior to the injunction, the District had not responded to the Union in over 51 hours, not even a “no” to the latest proposal. In my book that is not how “bargaining” is supposed to work. Hopefully this will get done and we can get back to teaching our students as soon as possible.

    • Another Kent Parent Says:

      Thanks so much for your post…I feel the same way. I love my children’s teachers. I respect what they do for them. This whole back and forth…good vs. evil has really gotten on my nerves. Your post summed up how I feel…thanks for being so articulate!

    • Kent Taxpayer Says:

      You’re not shocked at Vargas’ compensation? The total may be similar to what Grohe got, but that doesn’t mean her compensation was right. As a taxpayer, I am livid that our Superintendent makes more than the Governor of Washington, or the Vice-President of the United States. Who needs a $833 per MONTH car allowance? Even if he’s continually driving the entire district every day, could he possibly use that much gas and cause that much wear and tear on his vehicle? What about the rest of us that have to commute hours to our jobs and get no money to do so? If he really cared about the kids in Kent, he would offer to give back some of that money since the economy is so bad and all.

      I don’t feel bad for Vargas at all. He knew what he was getting in to when he took the job. (Hey, if this argument works for teachers, why not for administrators too?)

    • I agree! Says:

      Thank you Tim! Finally a person who gets it. I could not agree more with you, and the direction you have chose to understand both sides.

  19. Tired in the community Says:

    As someone that lives in the community, has a teacher as a spouse and 2 school age children, I’m SICK AND TIRED of hearing about strike this, and strike that.

    What are we teaching our children?

    That it’s ok to push our way into a meeting that you’re not invited to? Would that be tolerated by the kids? Would preventing UPS and FedEx deliveries to the schools be a good example?

    Guess what. It’s happening.

    The community is sick and tired of hearing that Kent teachers are demanding this, and demanding that. They want their kids to learn. And not what the KEA is teaching apparently.

    If a strike is illegal, I (and EVERYONE I’ve talked to) believe firmly that we can and should fire the teachers that are violating the law.

    I guess that means that we could get new teachers that aren’t being held onto by the district when they can’t teach and can’t perform.

    Pay for Performance or nothing.

    Teach the kids properly. Not like this, KEA. At least TRY to rise above what you feel is a “shocking and outrageous maneuver” and teach the kids something without your own version of bullying.

    • HS Teacher Says:

      You want everyone striking fired. What kind of teachers do you think you’re going to get after that? You’ll get the bottom of the barrel teachers that haven’t been hired by ANY school district by the first day of school. Is that really the quality of teacher you want your kids to have? We work our butts of for our students and we are trying to make it so that we can give those students the attention/instruction that they should have had from the very beginning.

      Yes we are striking, but we are also standing up for people that cannot stand up for themselves. We are standing up for our students because they are being crammed into overcrowded classrooms where the teacher is forced to spend more time babysitting than teaching. We are thinking about what’s best for kids in the long run. This isn’t really about us. Most teachers would choose smaller class sizes over a pay raise.

    • concerned parent Says:

      Amen. Twice.

    • what is wrong with you Says:

      My question to everyone is, in the world of business if you were to walk into your bosses office while he was in a meeting, and started to rant and call him out in front of others, would you expect to have a job the following day? Show some respect for your boss you don’t have to like him or talk to him, but you do have to respect him. If I did what some of you people did yesterday I would have been fired immediatly. If you want to blame someone, blame your bargaining team for not bargaining in good faith. Mike Mcnutt wants it his way or no way at all. Ask the KEA what they have given up in negotiations, Then ask the KSD. The KEA has done nothing but send out inaccurate information to the parents during this process to try to get you on their side. Tell us the truth and we will be more likely to support your cause.

      • Very Frustrated Says:

        KEA has given up plenty. While I can’t find the original proposals (KEA can you help?) I remember one proposal being an extra few days of leave for teachers pursuing masters. I remember being excited about that as I am looking at taking a few weeks with out pay to pursue mine as there are no local colleges that provide a masters in my area and I’ll be traveling to Minnesota for it. KEA pulled it off the table along with other proposals to try and get KSD talking back in spring. Didn’t work, obviously.

        KEA and KSD started bargaining in April and we didn’t see a SINGLE proposal from them until July. When we DID see a proposal it was all or nothing, take it or leave it. There was no negotiation or it was taken off the table. How is that bargaining in good faith? KEA offered to meet longer, more often and any time. KSD responded with no, they’d stick to their scheduled sessions, thanks. Again, how is that bargaining in good faith?

        And as for misinformation, everyone puts their own spin on information and KEA is no different. HOWEVER, when the class database came out, it wasn’t KEA telling us to tell everyone that our classes were wrong, it was our experience of the last year! I would look at the class size listed for just about every classroom in my school and know they were wrong numbers. I didn’t get a call from KEA telling me to go out and tell everyone the district was lying. I KNEW they were wrong because I SAW those kids every week all year long. I KNEW they were wrong because their teachers were wondering where 2, 3 and sometimes 6 or 7 of their students had gone. KSD keeps calling parents and telling them “The teachers have chosen to strike another day.” The KEA bargaining team made a proposal and waited 51 HOURS waiting for a response. They had nothing to do! At that point, who was choosing to prolong the strike? The people reviewing the proposal or the ones waiting for a response?

        I’m not a huge fan of unions, though I admit they serve a purpose. I HATE teacher strikes but recognize that on occasion, when every avenue has been explored, there is no other choice. We had no other choice. Our backs were to the wall and we had to choose to stand up for ourselves and our kids.

      • Teacher Says:

        Where are you getting your information from? You state that the KEA has done nothing but send out inaccurate information. If you have been receiving information about this strike and the bargaining proposals, then you have been receiving your information from the Kent School District bargaining team. The Kent Education Association (teachers) have not sent any information regarding this strike through US mail. If you are interested in being informed about the teachers’s issue then go to kentschools.org. That’s where you will find the truth. Stop a teacher and ask one to tell you the truth. You just automatically assume that what you hear from the District is the truth. Seek out the other side’s story if you really are interested in the truth.

    • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

      They are kids, I’m an adult. Sometimes adults get to do things that kids don’t. That’s what this is teaching them, I guess.

  20. HS Teacher Says:

    The district doesn’t seem to understand that we are concerned about the sizes of the class for the sake of the STUDENTS. The size classes that we have are so outrageously large that there is NO possible way to EFFECTIVELY teach that many kids. We end up spending more time on classroom management than we spend actually teaching. The district claims to be requesting the injunction for the sake of the students, claiming that by delaying school we are harming the students “learning”. THEY are harming students’ learning by giving us class sizes that we can BARELY FIT IN OUR CLASSROOMS. Every year before school starts we have to go searching for desks because there aren’t enough in our room to accommodate our rosters. Then after the first day of school even MORE kids are registered so we have to request more desks and it takes SEVERAL days to get them. One year I had a student sitting by MY desk for almost a week before I got a desk for him. If they eliminate a class limit like they’re proposing we will not be able to physically accommodate our students much less teach them anything.

    They keep trying to paint us as greedy individuals wanting a pay raise in the middle of this economy. I would like to point out that if we were as greedy and money hording as they claim we NEVER would have become teachers in the first place. Money is nice and necessary but that is NOT what this whole thing is about. Quit wasting our time and start addressing class sizes and unnecessary meetings!

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      HS Student, so if the district said “no” to pay, and were to wave a magic wand and find the teachers and space to accommodate your class size demand, would that get you back to work?

      • HS Teacher Says:

        Me, most definitely. All of the teachers I have talked to, yes definitely. Unfortunately I haven’t talked to every teacher but I believe that they would.

  21. Working Hard for YOUR KIDS Says:

    Go get that which will make student learning and testing easier for students!

    SENT ON BEHALF OF DAVID A. STOLIER, SENIOR ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, EDUCATION DIVISION: (sent to a KEA member)

    Dear Ms. XXXXX: Your three email messages to the Attorney General have been referred to me for a response. It seems that your third message encapsulates the first two. You have reviewed 2006 AGO No. 3 regarding teacher strikes and wish to know what the nature of an Attorney General Opinion is and its role in the law. You ask whether the Opinion is a law or legislation. It is neither. It is a legal opinion. In order to better answer your question I will start with an overview of the role of the Attorney General. The Attorney General is, by constitutional provision and statute the legal adviser to state all agencies and state officials. See RCW 42.10.030. One role given to the Attorney General by statute is to provide written opinions when requested by either branch of the legislature upon constitutional or legal questions. Although much of our law is set down in legislation, there is also a significant body of law that derives from past judicial decisions. AGO 2006 No. 3 is a response to a request from a legislator for an analysis of the law. As you can see from its text, the Opinion contains an analysis of cases and statutes in order to come to a conclusion. The purpose is to predict how a court of law would rule if presented with the legal question. However, it is ultimately the role of the courts to bindingly say what the law is. Therefore an official Attorney General Opinion represents a careful and considered legal analysis of a question of law by the chief legal officer of the State. It is neither legislation, which is reserved to the legislative branch of state government, nor or a judicial decision, which is reserved to the judicial branch. It is a legal analysis by the executive branch entitled to such weight as the courts choose to give it. It is guidance to government officials and the public who may rely on it, at least until a court should hold otherwise. I hope this helps with your inquiry. You may want to check with your union and its legal counsel for more detailed consideration of how the Opinion may apply to your situation.

    I hope this information has been of some help to you. Thank you for relaying your concerns to our office.

    David A. Stolier

    Senior Assistant Attorney General

    Tammy Balliett

    Office of Attorney General

    Education Division

  22. Teacher in Kent Says:

    As a teacher in Kent who supports the KEA and my fellow teachers, I have to say how disappointed I am with the actions on the union and some fellow teachers during the Dr. Vargas press conference.

    The yelling, laughing, and interrupting during yesterday’s press conference by Dr. Vargas was incredibly inappropriate and disrespectful. Those that watched the news saw a very bad view of teachers. If we as teachers are demanding that the district respect us, then we need to show them respect by example.

    I understand and appreciate the passions that can drive our actions. But we need to make sure we act in a professional manner no matter what the district does or says.

  23. Len Dawson Says:

    I don’t know a single teacher who is in the profession or who believes the goal of this strike was to help them become suddenly wealthy. “Greedy” is a term that does not fit any teacher. I also don’t know a single teacher who doesn’t want to be back in the classroom and teaching the wonderful students of Kent. But the teachers have a contract with the district and when it’s time to negotiate a new one, that is what happens.

    The district has shown a clear pattern for over a year of not wanting to seriously, timely, and respectfully negotiate with the teachers. Walking away from bargaining sessions, cancelling them, refusing to address major issues, demanding a state mediator (who is nothing but a glorified note passer and whose prescence delayed the whole process further), and now this injunction effort has shown clearly that the district has never been interested in giving the common respect and professionalism to this process that anyone deserves to the teachers.

    Smaller classes are what is best for the students.
    Less time in meetings gives teachers more time to spend preparing lessons and/or spending extra time with students – which is what is best for students.
    Even paying the teachers more so good ones come to and stay in the district (and even so some can stop working second jobs) is even what is best for the students. (it’s true – ask the administrators – they are some of the highest paid in the state)

    Keeping millions in reserves beyond the already high amount that they CHOOSE to keep there isn’t helping anyone. And leading the charge to a strike and a refusal to negotiate in good faith is not what is best for the students – but it has been the district’s plan all along.

    • Jimmy Hoffa Says:

      Len, if it’s not a about the money, then why all the whining about Vargas’ salary?

    • Split/Combo Grade Reality Says:

      HI Mr. Dawson,
      Your post beautifully addresses our issues, thank you for so eloquently stating them.

      Your last paragraph about the bloated reserve fund should be made into a picket sign.

      How about: KSD: REALLOCATE, NOT DICTATE SO WE AN EFFECTIVELY EDUCATE!

      • Split/Combo Grade Reality Says:

        Oops, sorry about leaving out the “C” for “CAN” in my picket sign suggestion of:
        REALLOCATE, NOT DICTATE SO WE CAN EFFECTIVELY EDUCATE!”

  24. Parent/Teacher Says:

    I was disappointed in the behavior of the KEA members at the press conference on Tuesday. We have heard non-stop about the alleged disrespect that the school board displayed during negotiations from the KEA leadership. Yet the behavior of the KEA members at the news conference was far from respectful. What if students dared to behave that way in a classroom? KEA demands respect from the board, but doesn’t give it in return.

  25. Long time Parent volunteer Says:

    I would like each of you who want to paint this as both sides just making up misinformation to really talk to the teachers and other staff and find out what the real problems are. The district bullies the teachers over and over and treats the teachers and counselors and nurses like children.

    Some staff has been told that during inservices they could only take a 13 minute lunch or a 21 minute lunch. Often there is no reimbursement when attending required meetings or trainings because the paperwork required to get reimbursed is so cumbersome or it is just impossible to get anyone to actually sign it to get the promised pay. These are just some of the tactics of the district and there are many more. Those against the teachers are simply uninformed about all that has been happening in the district.

    As far as classified staff, my understanding is that they are getting paid as usual. The custodians and secretaries are there. This strike will actually mean more money for them as they are getting their regular salary and then when we have the makeup days, they will have a chance to get extra pay for those days besides.

    IMPORTANT POINT AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION!!!! Regarding how paying teachers more for large class sizes helps the students: If the district has to pay more to teachers if they overload their classrooms, THEN and only then does the district have any incentive to make class sizes smaller. This has worked very well in other district and makes the class sizes much more managable since the district does not want to have to pay more money.

    I, for one, am tired of the district thinking that throwing an aide who is not necessarily well trained for the job, into the elementary classrooms that are overloaded and thinking that it solves anything!!!! The teacher still has just as many kids to assess, report on and oversee…and now the teacher has to work with training the aide besides! I have seen this in action more than once in my own childrens’ first grade classrooms where the district thought it was okay to have 31 students as long as they gave the teacher an aide for four hrs. a day. IT DOES NOT WORK. And the students do suffer.

    Please stay strong teachers. I have been out on the picket lines and I can tell you that the community support is very strong. There are some uninformed or bitter people in the community who don’t want anyone to do well in life….teachers, families or students. Please don’t let that color your decisions and resolve. Keep standing up to the district. The parents are behind you!!! At least the informed and involved parents!!!

    Hang in there and stay out, no matter what the judge rules— Until the district is actualy willing to bargain the real issues and make some real solutions!!!

    • Former Kent Parent Says:

      Try running a business sometimes. I work 16 hour days, with no time to eat. I have to grab a bite here and there in front of customers. They even follow me to the bathroom sometimes. Come on. We all have it hard. O.k? Be glad those folks have jobs!

      • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

        How is this related to my job or struggles as a teacher?

        Are yousaying I should be in the classroom 16 hours a day, eat in front of my students and forget to lock the bathroom door?

        I don’t get it.

  26. concerned parent Says:

    If you haven’t read Danny Westneat’s column in today’s Seattle Times, read it here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2009788569_danny02.html

    KEA and KSD are behaving like spoiled children. I don’t have a clue how you’re going to give my child a solid education when this is over. The district behaved badly by taking the union to court so quickly, and the union members who attended the news conference behaved abysmally and should be completely ashamed of themselves. Grow up, all of you.

    • willyoumeetmeinthemiddle? Says:

      Tempers and emotions run high in a situation like this. When I get back in the classroom, I am going to give your child a solid education just like I always do.
      When I get back in the classroom, I am going to show Dr. Vargas due respect, and I have no doubt that were he to come into my classroom, he will show me due respect as well. He and I will get along fine.
      This too shall pass.

  27. WasaDanielParentNowAMeekerParent Says:

    I’ve volunteered in my kids’ classrooms for years now. And I’ve watched as they stack kids on top of kids in the classrooms. It is so BAD at Daniel Elementary that they have resorted to having classes in rooms that were not designed for that type of class. (Orchestra in the Teachers lounge, ESL in a Teacher workroom, Kindergarten in the Music Room. I’m not sure where the music Teacher went.) They had teachers teaching classes in the workrooms. And I ask the School District, “What kind of learning environment is that?” What is the message that our children get? Your not worth it, your not worth the money. I wish my kids were in school just like the other Parents and Teachers, however I want smaller class sizes. We need to Support our Teachers and tell our kids, “You deserve the best, you are worth it. We will not stop until you get the Education you deserve.” Don’t forget we are doing this for our kids.
    Thank you to all our Teachers, We Love and Support you!!

  28. Bawbert Says:

    It is frustrating to hear the condemnation regarding the KEA teachers response to Dr. Vargas during the press conference. It has been referenced here that it was a private conference for just the KSD and the press. A parent attempted to attend and was told by security that they could not attend. When the district starts telling parents they are unable to participate in the process, then something is broken. This meeting was a public meeting and the person blocking the teachers was Chuck Lind, the KSD attorney who has developed quite a reputation as being a bully. The teachers got carried away because emotions run high in these situations. When hearing outright untruths, it is at times hard to restrain your skepticism. Our districtpurposely avoided bargaining with the KEA team in order to file an injunction, yet claim to be bargaining in good faith. Even the staunchest supporter of the KSD has to see there is something wrong with that!

    • rupert Says:

      I agree, Bawbert. When the district tells parents–PARENTS–that they can’t attend the press conference, and then the district locked out the PARENTS from the district office today, can’t the community see that something is seriously wrong?

      What happened to transparency?

  29. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    Bawbert, so if the students hear something in class or from their principal they don’t agree with, going forward it will be okay for them to shout them down?

  30. Another Kent Parent Says:

    I am just glad that we could only hear you and not see the angry mob during the press conference. Being emotional just doesn’t justify that behavior, I have been in support of our teachers, but that was truly disappointing.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    “Unabelievable”?

  32. veteranteacher Says:

    My college son was out there on the picket line the other day with his high school teachers. He was there because they were some of the greatest influences in his life and the ones who encouraged him to go on to college and gave him the skills to succeed. He was there because in 9th grade in 9th grade he had to sit on the floor in English class for a whole week along with several other students who didn’t have chairs. He was there because he and his fellow students had to personally purchase the books they read for their Enlgish class so that the money didn’t have to come out of the teacher’s own pocket. He doesn’t think it is right and he came home from college for the day to join the picket line. By the way, he also wrote Vargas a letter. Do you suppose that he will get a response?

  33. Cici Says:

    Wow – is all i can say in reviewing the video!!! And to think I know some of those teachers and how they reacted in public!!!! How do they act and what do they say in a private classroom? Do I want you teaching my children? I think not…. I’m sad to say I live in this district anymore – I used to be so proud – shame on YOU!

    • Completely disgusted Says:

      I too used to be so proud. We moved our family to this district because it was so great. Unfortunately that time has passed, it is no longer a great district!! The teachers ARE acting like children, not the adults that are supposed to be admired by the children in their classrooms.

      If the teachers choose not to go back to the classroom on Tuesday, as ruled by the judge, the message you are sending to our youth is that it is okay to break the law! Not a message that I want to be sent to the students!
      Grow up, be happy you have a job, and if you don’t like the job you have….look for another one.
      For those parent’s who brought your young children to strike with you….shame on you!!! Children should not be out there holding picket signs, no matter how much they “love” their teachers!!
      And people ask what is wrong with the world today….I think the video says it all!!!

  34. Brooke Valentine Says:

    Friends,

    Kent isn’t on strike because their teachers or admin are evil. They have simply been stretched past the breaking point. And they’ve snapped.

    The State funds Kent $15,000 per 25-student classroom, per year, less than Washington State average.

    Washington State, in addition, funds every classroom $25,000 per year, less than US average. So Kent classrooms are underfunded by $40,000 per year, less than US average. US average is not all that high.

    Please let’s not turn on each other. We can achieve better success for our schools for our kids, when we work together.

    We need to stop looking back, stop pointing fingers stop passing around the blame and each of us make a personal commitment to be quiet or be part of a solution. Our children our counting on us!

    Stand for Children is launching a chapter in Kent. (http://www.stand.org/Page.aspx?pid=226 )

    http://www.facebook.com/sledbet?v=feed&story_fbid=123852953193&ref=mf#/event.php?eid=139407682817&ref=ts

    There is a public event on September 21, 2009 6pm at the Kent School District Administration building. Stand will provide childcare and light refreshments. Many of Kent’s Community leaders and Teachers will be in attendance.
    I encourage all of you to come and learn more about Stand for Children and how they can help us raise our voices and be effective for our children.
    Also take some time to learn about the NEWS law suit
    http://www.waschoolexcellence.org/
    This lawsuit was started and is continually supported by a group of over 90 organizations that are constantly fighting for the children in our state. The Kent School District and the Kent Education Association are two of those groups. The Lawsuit is about how our state is underfunding our schools.
    If you would like to talk more about education funding, or about any of your concerns in Kent School District, I want to listen, I want to help, I also would like to learn about your ideas for positive solutions and how you want to be involved in the change.
    I will even be so brave as to post my email. coupons4brooke at gmail dot com (no spam please 😉
    Thank you for letting me post and taking the time to read it and now I guess it’s open season feel free to let me have it.
    Brooke Valentine

  35. anonymous Says:

    I think many people in the public have the vision of negotiation that I had until it was clarified to us. We envision both sides sitting at a big table talking things over.
    These negotiations have involved two hotel rooms with the mediator running back and forth with proposals. So when the KEA says they went 51 hours without any movement from the district, the public needs to understand that since the district, on their own website, said they were working on figuring out if the cost of the new KEA proposal was feasible, we actually trusted that that was what they were doing for 51 hours, when in fact, they were drafting the papers for the injunction. The KEA negotiators sat and waited for that response and even the mediator was led to believe that one was forthcoming.
    Our district, who supposedly is so strapped for cash, is paying for a suite where they sit day after day and waste time. Couldn’t they just sit and waste time in their own offices, like Vargas does?

  36. JLR Says:

    After watching the unedited footage on http://www.kiro7.com here are some thoughts: Dr. Vargas did a good job at the press conference, especially with such a raucous crowd. I would challenge any teacher to do a better job. Let a crowd of angry parents stand in the back of a classroom and shout at a teacher and see what sort of response you would get from the teacher. Some teachers have trouble dealing with 24, excuse me, 30 12-year-olds. Also, what is with the chant “We are KEA”…what the heck does that mean? We are union, or we are for kids? By the way, very unprofessional by those who shouted and chanted at the press conference; you can’t even do that at a school esembly.

    On a side note, I have to applaud the district for putting up all of the contract proposals, all of the documentation, and even the entire complaint on its website. You can’t get any of the info on the KEA website.
    JLR

  37. Lisa Says:

    “It’s never about lettuce and grapes. It is always about people.” C. Chavez

    When is the Kent School District and Board going to realize it’s about kids and what is good for kids?! I am offended by the District’s arrogance to blatantly disrespect the school employees by not bargaining in an earnest, good faith manner. Shame on you District! Get back to that table and get to work for the good of our children and the hero’s who work tirelessly in our school buildings

  38. Former Kent Parent Says:

    I have moved to another town in Washington, and I have to say that while I understand the emotion involved here, small class size sounds good, but there are stepping stones that are helpful. And there is no excuse for this childish behavior exhibited by laughter and rudeness.
    Now here is the other side….My sister lives in California. They passed a smaller class size rule, and her life became a living hell. She spent all day driving her kids around from school to school because none of her 5 children could go to the same school. And parents who didn’t have the luxury of having time to drive their kids to school (they actually had to go to a job) were forced to pay several hundred dollars per year to bus their kids around. My sister’s kids were separated from their friends. Teachers were hard to find, and the money just didn’t appear. You think it’s hard because a student has to sit at a teacher’s desk for a week???? Well, imagine your child having to sit in a hallway because they are forced into a smaller class, when there was no money to build new schools!
    I’m as made as anyone that money ear-marked for the classroom, from the state, goes to our general fund instead. But we put these stupid politicians there.
    But folks, many schools in states with far less money than Washington HAVE successfully solved the problem by bringing in math and reading specialists. No new teachers had to be hired. Infrustructure was far less than what it would have been, if class size was automatically cut.
    I brought these points up years ago at a PTA meeting, when we were being asked to lobby Olympia in favor of smaller class sizes.
    I explained what my sister was going through. Parents shouted me down and actually told me I didn’t care about my children! Rude, rude, rude.
    I’m glad to be gone from Kent. And for those of you who are still in Kent and are my friends, I wish you well.

    • HS Teacher Says:

      They’re buidling a BRANDNEW school right now and they just expanded the kentridge admin offices. There’s money. They’re paying vargas 240k a year. The admin are paid on the high end of admin in the state, the teachers are paid on the low end of teachers. They’re just not using their money efficiently. The people holding the purse strings pad their pockets and refuse to spend the money needed to help the students.

  39. Teacher Says:

    Chuck Lind, KSD attorney, tried to persuade the court to join in on the bullying. He asked the judge to restrict the rights of parents and teachers to assemble and picket. The judge was not interested in bucking the US Constitution.

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