Nothing To Talk About?

That’s what the Kent School District told a parent when asked why they recently cancelled a school board meeting.  Rather than “Successfully Preparing Students for Their Future,” perhaps the Kent School District should alter their mission statement to “Nothing to Talk About.”   Fittingly, that has been and continues to be their governing philosophy regarding their negotiations with Kent teachers.  Why?  Here are a few pieces to think about:

  • Kent teachers asked for class size caps that are equitable with comparable districts in our area.  The school district instead ignored that request and went on the news explaining that their class sizes are equitable with neighboring districts.  If that is correct, why won’t KSD use the same contractual language that those neighboring districts have?  Instead, it seems more like they care about retaining their power than doing anything that could benefit students.  Nothing to talk about?
  •  Kent teachers asked the district to more efficiently use their time with meetings.  Some schools dealt with up to four 30 minute meetings a week resulting in over 2 hours of meeting time.  The district proposed a compromise that made the limit two hour long meetings a week… Wait.  Isn’t that the same thing?  Once again, the district is telling the public that they are working to get kids back in school but instead it seems like they are stonewalling the teachers.   Nothing to talk about?
  • Kent teachers asked the district to increase compensation to move us from the bottom of local school districts to begin to become competitive with our competition.  Since then, Kent teachers have lowered their demands significantly to ease the district supposed money woes.  In the end, the KSD offered a 4.5% raise in pay over the next two years.  Unfortunately, when examining the logistics of their offer, it isn’t a raise. It is actually 5 extra days of work.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper for the district to simply give the teachers a 4.5% raise for the work they already do?  Sadly, it seems that the district is not really negotiating but dictating.  Nothing to talk about?

The district is cancelling school board meetings because they believe there is nothing to talk about.  Call the superintendent at 253-373-7701 and tell him there are many things to talk about.


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17 Responses to “Nothing To Talk About?”

  1. Chris Smith Says:

    Keep up the good work! Below is a flyer we are circulating in your support.
    Chris Smith, Freedom Socialist Party

    Support the Kent teachers
    who are on strike for quality education!

    The courageous Kent teachers have remained on strike over the last week, in defiance of a court injunction, because they insist on two simple demands:
    1. Smaller class sizes. (Kent has one of the highest student-teacher ratios in the area.)
    2. Increase the time to spend with students by reducing hours spent in staff meetings.

    Rather than supporting the teachers, the Kent School District is trying to punish them for taking a stand in defense of their students. When the district insisted that the back-to-work order be enforced, a King County Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday, Sept. 10 that if they do not return to work by Monday, Sept. 14, each teacher will be fined $200 per day that they remain on strike, and their union, the Kent Education Association, will be fined $1,500 per day, retroactive to the beginning of the strike.

    But the teachers are standing strong, due to a conviction that they are doing the right thing — and because of the strong support they have received from parents, students, and the broader community and labor movement.

    Fate of teachers and students are tied together

    The Kent School District, the courts and rightwing media commentators have all tried to vilify the teachers, saying that children are being denied education and parents are facing hardship since they must scramble to make childcare arrangements. But Kent parents have organized themselves and stood up in support of the teachers, precisely because they want schools that will educate their children, not just provide a babysitting service! Email kentparentscoalition for more info.

    Defend the right to strike

    In this time of economic depression, bureaucrats and bosses are attempting to deflect blame and balance their budgets by pitting parents and students against teachers, and pitting taxpayers against city, county and state employees who deliver their services. But it is public workers, who, despite being hit with layoffs and furloughs, have taken the lead to defend social services and education. And nationally, no group has been more vocal than teachers. In Los Angeles public school teachers led a rally of 15,000 in January to defend public schools and followed it up with a series of demonstrations, civil disobedience and a hunger strike to protest massive layoffs. Their actions forced the district to back off and saved over 6,000 jobs.

    Here in Washington, the Kent teachers are putting their livelihoods on the line to defend quality education – something the Kent School District and the state legislature have refused to do!

    Tax corporations to fund decent education in Washington State!

    The Washington legislature has consistently granted tax cuts to large corporations, like the $3 billion state tax exemption to entice Boeing to build the Dreamliner here, while refusing to fund voter-mandated raises for teachers.
    It’s time for collective action by workingclass people to demand fundamental change. In 1970, corporations paid 45% of the taxes for education in this state – by 2000 they paid only 16%! The Kent teachers are forcing a long overdue debate over whether education in this state will continue to be funded primarily through heavy property taxes on working families, or will corporations finally be forced to contribute towards educating the future workforce whose skills and knowledge they benefit from.

    Take action today!

    Contact the Kent School District at 253-373-7000 or and demand:

    · Call off the back-to-work injunction and grant the teachers’ demands
    · Open the books on district finances, as the teachers have requested
    · Stop fighting the teachers and take the fight to Olympia instead

    Support the teachers of the Kent Education Association.

    · Show up at their picket lines and rallies
    · Call or email and express your support
    · Write a letter to the editor
    · Ask your organization or union to mobilize support and make a donation

    Issued by Freedom Socialist Party,
    5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
    206-722-2453 ●

  2. Juan Figuroa Says:

    The tone of this blog is hostile, whiny and unprofessional. If it reflects the attitudes of teachers who say they want to be treated with respect and professionalism, I’m disappointed by the double standard.

    — A parent who has decided to homeschool in response to this blog. I will not allow people with this self-serving, hostile, and frankly, immature, attitude to have influence over my children.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      A blog is supposed to be whatever the blogger wants it to be. It is only one of many avenues of communication. This blog’s express purpose is to rile up our members, spark debate, and get people thinking. If you did not like it, there are other places to find out info about this strike. Different strokes for different folks, as my mom used to say. If a blog gets you to homeschool your kids, I’d say you were looking for an excuse.

      I wonder if you are also going to boycott all the news outlets who allow posts on their tv or newspaper stories, where vitriolic attacks on teachers are commonplace.

  3. Tegar Says:

    A continued Strike will have this effect:
    Teachers loose … Yes
    Kids loose ….. Yes
    Parents Loose … Yes
    Community Loose … Yes

    KSD Loose … NO
    KEA Loose … NO
    WEA Loose … No

    End the Power Sruggle for Domination … End this Strike!

  4. Grandma Sherry Says:

    I was reading the KSD website on their proposal of Sep 12 Article VII and I had a couple of questions as a lay person. They are asking for 2 req meetings per week, 8 per month lasting a max of 60 minutes which by my math is 8 hours per month of meetings? To include but not limited to Vertical Team, Grade Level Team, SIT, CAST and CASL. Could someone tell me what all these mean? You don’t have to go into detail but give me a hint.

    Also regarding class size. Would you say that in elementary school the kids are in the classroom learning about 300 minutes per day. I know they are in school 6 hours but minus lunch, recesses, etc does it average out to about 300 minutes? If this is the case and you have a class of 29 students that gives you about 10 minutes per student per day if they have problems understanding or questions. I don’t know about some but I have had to have a teacher explain a homework assignment to me and it took more that 10 minutes.

    The point I guess I am trying to make is that if a student doesn’t get IT in elementary school, what chance do they have in middle and high school were there is 145+ students to one teacher

  5. Jeff Ford Says:

    This comment delteted for violation of blog policy against personal attacks.

  6. Vargas Cleared of Charges Says:

    On a closed to comments area, accusations were raised about Dr. Vargas, but there is more to the story.
    Tuesday, April 17, 2001
    Last modified at 4:48 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2001
    © 2001 – The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
    TEA commissioner says Ysleta board incapable of running district

    Associated Press

    EL PASO, Texas {AP}— Texas Education Commissioner Jim Nelson says a West Texas school board is incapable of running its district and has threatened the board with sanctions if bickering and infighting continue.

    “The board is not capable of discharging its basic duties on behalf of the students, staff and community,” Nelson wrote in a March 27 letter about the Ysleta School Board.

    The letter was written in response to a March 22 report from state-appointed school district master Linda Garcia Mora. Mora was brought in last year to help the district solve its internal problems.

    Mora can overrule any action taken by the board, the superintendent or a principal. After one year, she could lower the district’s recognized academic standing and replace trustees with a state-appointed board of managers.

    In her second 90-day report, Mora said, “the differences between the two factions on the board run so deep that the chasm may never be repaired and this board will never be able to work as a team without rancor and hostility.”

    Board President Ismael Legarreta said he was disappointed with Mora’s actions.

    “I think she could be a little tougher sometimes,” he said. “I voted to bring a master so that the district could move forward … not so that she would override elected official’s votes.”

    Mora has said the factions want her to choose a side.

    The board majority was angry when Mora reinstated Edward Lee Vargas as superintendent of the district.

    Vargas was suspended by the board pending investigation of charges that he misused district funds and broke several state and district policies. An independent investigation cleared him of the charges and Mora reinstated him over the majority’s objections.

    Last month, the majority — trustees Ismael Legarreta, Fred Sanchez, Roberto Lerma and Rosa Caballero — filed lawsuits against Mora and Nelson questioning their authority and claiming their actions in the district had violated the Voting Rights Act.

    U.S. District Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth said the lawsuits were unfounded and dismissed them. Several trustees have said they are considering appealing the decision and contend the state should pay for the appeals.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Thanks for this post. I had heard rumors of this being the case, but I wasn’t sure. I figured that someone would find it. How about the lawsuit he lost? Did you find anything on that issue? Somebody posted about that the other day, but I couldn’t find it, and didn’t have time to verify it.

  7. st Says:

    Once again you are taking things personally, bashing the district. It takes two to tango and your constantly pointing fingers and neagtive comments continue to make things personal. When we do get back to school, do you think the things you say are going to make relationshipts better? I for one am going to have a hard time looking at teachers the same way in the district becuase of the negativity of the KEA.

  8. what is wrong with you Says:

    This comment deleted for violation of blog policy against personal attacks.

  9. BaffledTeacher Says:

    Is this true? Was a background check done on Superintendent Vargas before he was hired?

  10. BaffledTeacher Says:

    Is this true? Was a background check done on Superintendent Vargas before he was hired?

    Please read the small article at the bottom of the paper?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      KEA brought up some concerns before he was hired after we did some initial research and called the unions of the districts he used to be Superintendent of. The School Board assured KEA that they vetted Dr. Vargas thoroughly. A member of KEA’s bargaining team informed me that Dr. Vargas was later cleared in the incident you have provided a link to. There were other concerns raised, however.

  11. JLR Says:

    Perhaps the school board isn’t meeting because they are tired of watching teachers grandstand, yell and act like 6-year-olds! I think they are ashamed of the way teachers have acted…like the rest of us taxpayers and parents are.

  12. Tegar Says:

    Who benefits from a prolonged strike?
    Kids ……. No
    Parents….. No
    Teachers …. No

    Kent School District ….. Yes
    Kent Education Association …. Yes
    Washington Education Assocition …. Yes

    KEA and WEA are useing Teachers in a struggle for Dominance of Power.
    Mostly all the school districts in this State have class size issues, yet KEA and WEA managed to convince KSD teachers to draw the line in the sand.
    Don’t pay the price of being a pawn in a Power Struggle, and go back to work.

  13. Kent Teacher Says:

    Latest statement posted that is attributed to Bill Boyce is yet another example of inflammatory hearsay.Good grief. The KEA will publish/post anything. The KEA and the teachers still don’t get it. This is not about the issues at this point. It’s about the law and a clear court order directing the teachers to report for duty tomorrow. Keep on thumbing your nose at the judicial system and see how the court of public opinion treats all of you. I hope those swell KEA lawyers are advising the teachers that failure to report to work is obviously grounds for discharge, nevermind the fines, sanctions, etc.
    Incidentally, where can one find the salaries of the union staff?

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