Monday, May 4, 2015

A Letter to the Community

It’s Time
Dear Neighbor,

The 1,280 members of the Northshore Education Association (NSEA) will not report to school on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Instead, we will be participating in a one day walk out in response to the state legislature’s failure to fully fund the costs of basic education and its continued defiance of a State Supreme Court contempt citation, and we ask that you join us.

Your children continue to pay the price for the inaction of the legislature. We ask that you join us in a protest march from Pop Keeney (9809 NE 188th St, Bothell, WA 98011) to The Park at Bothell Landing (9919 NE 180th St, Bothell, WA 98011) for an education rally at on Wednesday, May 6th. Add your voice to the chorus across the state demanding that the legislature follow the order of the Supreme Court and fully fund basic education in Washington State. Please carpool and meet up in the Pop Keeney parking lot by 11:15 am for the march; the rally will begin at 12:00 pm at The Park at Bothell Landing.

Northshore is a litigant in the landmark McCleary case. NSEA members have gone to the State Supreme Court. We have lobbied in Olympia. We worked to pass I-1351 to reduce class sizes in every grade level. Yet Washington continues to rank near our nation’s bottom in class size (47th), per pupil funding (40th), and teacher compensation (42nd). Despite the 2012 State Supreme Court’s decision that the Constitutional rights of Washington’s students were being violated, and despite the Court’s ruling last September that the legislature was in “contempt” for failing to remedy this, school funding has changed little. It’s shocking, and your children are paying too high a price.

The state legislature is currently deliberating on school funding, but the current proposals don’t adequately address the needs. Like educators in Lake Washington and 18+ other school districts around the state, we did not make the decision to walk out lightly. We know how our community counts on our schools to be open. We have made accommodations for all AP and IB testing to continue, and encourage all after school activities to be held as usual.

We recognize this is an inconvenience, but we ask for your patience and support. We are advocating for resources your children need to be successful in both school and in life. By closing for a day (which will be rescheduled like a snow day), we hope to shine a spotlight on the legislature’s current deliberations and to achieve a better outcome for our children.

If you cannot attend the rally on Wednesday, May 6th, please call your legislator on the Legislative Hotline (800-562-6000) and leave a message: Fund our schools with adequate and stable revenue.

For more information about the McCleary decision and the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools, please click here.
For more information about the legislative session, click here.

Sincerely,

Tim Brittell
President
Northshore Education Association

Letter to the Community (Spanish Version)

Querido vecino,

Los 1,280 miembros de la Asociación Educativa de Northshore (NSEA) no van a presentarse al trabajo en las escuelas el miércoles 6 de mayo, 2015.  En lugar de eso, vamos a participar en un día de protesta en respuesta al fracaso de la legislatura para financiar en su totalidad los costos de la educación básica y su desafío continuado del desacato de desprecio de la Corte Suprema del Estado, y le pedimos que nos acompañe.

Sus hijos continúan pagando el precio para la inacción de la legislatura.  Le pedimos que nos acompañe en una marcha de protesta desde Pop Keeney hasta el parque Bothell Landing en el centro de Bothell para una marcha de protesta de educación en Bothell Landing el miércoles 6 de mayo.  Añada su voz al coro del estado demandando que la legislatura siga la orden de la Corte Suprema y financiar en su totalidad la educación en el estado de Washington.

Northshore es un litigante en el caso histórico de McCleary.  Los miembros del NSEA han ido a la Corte Suprema del Estado.  Hemos presionado con mítines en Olympia.  Trabajamos para pasar Iniciativa-1351 para reducir el tamaño de las clases de cada nivel.  Todavía, Washington continua estando cerca del fin de la lista de los tamaños de las clases en la nación (47 de 50), financiamiento por estudiante (40 de 50), y compensación para maestros (42 de 50).  A pesar de la decisión de la Corte Suprema del Estado de 2012 que los derechos constitucionales de los estudiantes de Washington fueron violados y a pesar de las decisiones de la Corte del septiembre pasado que la legislatura estaba en "desprecio" por el fracaso de remediar eso, el financiamiento para escuelas ha cambiado muy poco.  Es espantoso y desgraciado que sus niños están pagando un precio grandísimo.

La legislatura del Estado está deliberando sobre el financiamiento de las escuelas, pero las propuestas actuales no responden adecuadamente a las necesidades.  Como los educadores de Lake Washington y 18+ otros distritos escolares en el estado, la decisión de protestar no fue hecha facilmente.   Sabemos cómo nuestra comunidad cuenta en nuestras escuelas para estar abiertas.  Hemos hecho alojamientos para continuar todos los examenes de AP y IB, y alentamos que todas las actividades después de escuela pasen de costumbre.

Reconocemos que esto es un inconveniente pero pedimos su paciencia y su apoyo, y que nos acompañe.  Estamos abogando por recursos que sus niños necesitan para ser exitosos en ambos la escuela y en la vida.  En cerrar por un día (que sera reprogramado como un día de nieve) esperamos a enfatizar las deliberaciones actuales de la legislatura y para lograr un mejor resultado.  Si usted no pueda asistir la marcha de protesta el miércoles 6 de mayo, en el parque Bothell Landing, por favor, llame a su legislador o llame a (800) 562-6000 y deje un mensaje: "Financie nuestras escuelas con ingresos adecuados y estables."

Sinceramente,
Tim Brittell, Presidente

Northshore Education Association

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Day Walk Out: May 6

With a 63% vote, NSEA members will participate in a one day walk out on Wednesday, May 6th in response to the State Legislature’s failure to make adequate progress toward fully funding public education. Thank you to everyone who voted—we had a tremendous response rate.

Instead of reporting to work on Wednesday, May 6th, schools will be assigned to picket locations for either an AM shift (7:15 to 10:15) or a PM shift (2:30 to 5:30). We are also holding a rally around the noon hour. Details are still being worked out with the city of Bothell.  Parents, students, and community members are invited to join us at this rally. A separate email is being sent to the home of all Northshore students explaining this action.  Wear red and dress for comfort. AP and IB testing will go on as normal. SBAC testing can and will be rescheduled. Field trips and after school activities will go on. The day will be made up just like a snow day. The last day for students will now be Thursday, June 18; the last day for teachers will be Friday, June 19th.

This promises to be an exciting day. Lake Washington EA will also be participating in a one day walk out on May 6th; Shoreline EA is voting right now and they are planning to go out on the 6th as well. We will be among the over 20 districts across the state that are walking out in protest over the state’s lack of education funding. The last time NSEA participated in walk out was back in 1999. Through our picketing and rally next week, we hope to influence the state legislature as they work to create a final budget.

Washington continues to rank toward the bottom for education in the nation. We are:

  •  40th in per pupil funding, despite a State Supreme Court decision that students’ constitutional rights are being violated due to lack of funding
  •  47th in class size, despite voters supporting I-1351 to reduce class size
  •  42nd in teacher compensation, despite voter support for educator COLAs.
Washington can do better. It’s time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Walk Out? It's Up to You

Every day, more local education association members across the state are voting to take a one day walk out against the state legislature.

Our vote starts Monday at 7:00 am. Please take some time this weekend to consider how you will vote and visit our website for more information.

You'll be asked to vote yes or no to the following:

The State Legislature's proposed budgets fail to make adequate progress toward fully funding basic education, as ordered by the State Supreme Court; they also fail to implement voter-approved I-1351 to reduce class sizes. In response, local education associations around Washington are participating in a series of coordinated one day rolling walk outs.

Should NSEA participate in a one day walk out?

The Legislature has made it clear - they are not interested in finding the way to fully fund education.  Their solution for school funding:
  • Less money than required by the Supreme Court and I-1351;
  • Less money than necessary to improve pay to the competitive level that is needed;
  • Less money than our schools need to ensure the best opportunity for success for our students.

Why a walk out? Why now?

WEA members from across the state have collectively sent hundreds of thousands of messages to legislators through emails, postcards, phone calls, and visits to Olympia but the attacks just keep coming.

Attacks on compensation:  After 6 years of no COLA, the best proposal on the table is a 4.8% increase over two years while the legislature is poised to be receiving an 11.2% raise.  Senate Republicans just put forward legislation that would cap already bargained pay and eliminate the future ability to bargain compensation at the local level.

Attacks on class size:  Not one of the budgets proposed by the Governor, Senate, or House fully funds I-1351 to reduce class sizes in all grades K-12.  The Senate budget goes even further by eliminating the additional supports for grades K-3 in high poverty schools and putting the issue back to the voters.

Attacks on local control:  The latest proposals take away the ability of districts to bargain competitive salaries to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers.  It also limits the ability of a local school district to supplement state funds for class size reductions or provide resources that are considered part of basic education.

Attacks on health care:  The Senate wants to eliminate bargaining of our health insurance at the local level.  All school employees would be part of a state-run system. 

Attacks on the profession: Although currently none of the bills contains language around tying test scores to evaluation, we fully expect this issue to be thrown into the final budget at the last minute. 

This is a walkout against the Legislature, not the District.  By joining other locals from around the state, we can put the pressure where it belongs - on the Legislature for finding a way to put the resources in our schools for student success.

Help legislators understand: 
  • It's time to support teachers, specialists, school employees, and KIDS! 
  • It's time to fund schools, reduce class size and caseloads and increase our pay to comparable professional levels!  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Walk Out: Some History

To provide you with details about the school funding controversy in our state, the following document was prepared for you utilizing information from the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) organization. I am the teacher representative on the NEWS Board of Trustees representing the 80,000+ educators in Washington State. This will help provide background information for you prior to our vote to participate in the one day rolling walk-outs across our state. I hope you find this informative.

McCleary v Washington State is a landmark case dealing with the funding of basic education in our state.  Following years of neglecting and eroding school funding, the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools filed a lawsuit against the state in 2007. NSD and NSEA (YOU) are plaintiffs, and YOU funded the lawsuit with $1 per month from your dues. You can read about the case by clicking here.  

In 1889 when our state constitution was written and ratified, the founders of our state had the foresight and wisdom to write in Article IX of our state constitution the following, "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders". It is clear the importance that was placed upon free public education. For an overview of the debate and struggle for adequate funding for basic education going back to 1974 click here.  

In January of 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state is continuing to violate the constitutional rights of our school children by not amply funding the public education system.  In this historic ruling, the Supreme Court also decided to retain jurisdiction in the case something unheard of in our history. To read more about the Washington Supreme Court ruling, click here

Following the unanimous ruling of the Washington State Supreme Court in 2012, the court again ruled unanimously in September, 2014 when it found that the legislative branch was in contempt of the court order for the legislature to devise a plan as to how it intended to fully fund basic education costs. The court stopped short of issuing contempt sanctions, and instead gave the legislative branch one last chance this year to devise a clear plan to fully fund basic education.  To learn more about the contempt citation, click here


The NEWS organization sent a letter to legislators this past April. In that letter was a chart showing their failure to fully fund basic education. Click here for the letter andhere for the chart

Tim Brittell, NSEA President

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walk Out: The Stakes are High

Teachers across the state are participating in one day walk outs-strikes against the State Legislature's lack of leadership. NSEA members will vote on a one day strike next week.

There is a lot at stake this Legislative Session, and whether NSEA holds a one day walk out or not, we need to know what's going on. What happens in Olympia impacts every classroom across the state. It's time for us to pay attention and fight back-for our students and for ourselves.

What's at Stake for My Students?

Class Sizes
Last year, we worked hard to gather signatures to get I-1351 on the ballot. We then worked to get it passed in November's general election. Voters supported this initiative to lower class size for all students at every grade level. Both the House and the Senate are ignoring the will of the people and are doing nothing to fulfill the class sizes outlined in I-1351.

At best, we can hope for some improvement for students in K-3, but what about grades 4-12?

School Funding
Under the State Supreme Court's McCleary Decision, the state must make steady progress to provide ample funding for public education. Neither of the proposed budgets from the House or Senate do so; both budgets continue to underfund education by billions of dollars.

Social Safety Net
The Senate budget promises more money to fund schools without any new taxes. This would be attained by drastically reducing funding to essential social programs, like health care for the state's most needy children. This isn't good for our schools or our state.

What's at Stake for Me?
Pay
Legislators will be getting an 11.2% pay increase this year.

Educators have not had a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 6 years. A COLA is not a raise-it just keeps our pay on track with the rising cost of living.

The best proposal thus far (from the House) provides us 4.8% over the next two years. 

Health Care Costs
The state health care allocation ($768 a month) hasn't changed in years, but the out of pocket cost for coverage, co-pays, etc. has not stagnated. Health care costs have gone up, costing most of us more money every month.

The House budget proposal is to increase our monthly health care allocation so that there is parity with teachers and state workers. The House raises the monthly allocation rate to $869 in 2015-16 and $937 in 2016-17. The Senate's budget proposal keeps the monthly allocation locked in to the outdated $768 a month for two more years. Do the math: If we can win the increase of $169 per month, that's over $2,000 per year that will not be deducted from our checks.

Bargaining Rights
The Senate has a proposal (SB6901) that would dramatically restrict our ability to bargain over TRI pay. TRI pay is the portion of your pay that comes from local funds, not from the state. 

NSEA has been successful in negotiating increases to our TRI pay. Currently, TRI pay adds $8,367 to $16,918 annually to your pay (depending on your placement on the salary schedule).

Evaluations and Test Scores

The Senate passed SB 5748, which ties test scores to evaluations. The House did not pass this bill, but as the final budget deal is worked out, anything is possible. We continue to fight this battle at the state and national level.

One Day Walk Out: FAQ

What’s going on?
The Legislature is poised to produce a State budget that does not meet the court established timeline for full funding of basic education.  Unless we exert pressure and stand up, our schools will not get the funding needed, our compensation will not be sufficiently increased, and we will be pressurized even more by legislative “reform”. 

Under the State Supreme Court’s McCleary Decision, the state must make steady progress to provide ample funding for public education. Neither of the proposed budgets from the House or Senate do so; both budgets continue to underfund education by billions of dollars.

Legislators will be getting an 11.2% pay increase this year, while the best proposal thus far (from the House) provides us 4.8% over the next two years.  The Senate proposals cut social services, increase our health benefit costs substantially, and effectively eliminate collective bargaining for most matters. The Senate is likely to attempt tying state test scores to our evaluations in the final budget.

In response, local education associations around the state are taking one day strikes against the state. The decision to strike is up to each local; this is not WEA-initiated.

What do we hope to accomplish?
  • We hope to earn media coverage and in so doing deliver a compelling message to the public, parents, and legislators. 
  • We hope to deliver a message that is sufficiently powerful to sway the public’s and legislature’s thinking on the test score/evaluation bill, and to drive more funding into compensation, class size/caseload reduction and school staffing.  
  • More funding into class size/caseload reduction and school staffing.
  • More funding for public education without other social service cuts.
  • A larger pay increase.
  • More funding into health insurance.
  • Evaluations not based on state tests.

Are other locals going to participate?
Yes. Many locals already voted to take action, including Bellingham, Sedro Wooley, Ferndale, Mount Vernon, Arlington, Blaine, Stanwood, Lakewood, and Anacortes. Other locals, including Seattle, Everett, Marysville, Lake Washington, Shoreline, and Sultan are voting or meeting soon.

The decision to strike is up to each local; this is not WEA-initiated.

What does NSD administration say about this? 
NSEA is talking to NSD administration about what will happen in Northshore. This is a strike against the state, not the district.

While a district could choose to try to block a strike action or penalize employees, we have not historically experienced this when actions are aimed at the Legislature.  Districts could conceivably seek a restraining order to try to prevent a strike but this is unlikely. 

Since 180 school days must occur, and since certificated employees must work these days, it is unlikely a district would seek to penalize employees—the day is missed and the day is made up, just like snow days.  Most districts will simply accept the reality that this is the easiest way to handle this.  We hope and expect that Northshore’s leadership will work with us to achieve full funding. 

What will the strike activities look like?
If we vote to participate in a one day walk out, school will be closed across the district. Parents will know in advance (through press releases from NSEA and district robo-calls) so students will not show up at school.  The student day will need to be made up at the end of the year, just like a snow day.

Specific details are yet to be determined.  After NSEA members vote, a group of about 12 NSEA volunteers will meet to make a plan. Activities could include picketing in prominent locations, a rally, a march, teach-ins, etc.

NESPA and NEOPA members will need to take their own votes to determine if they are going to participate in the one day walk out activities with us.

What if I don’t want to participate?
We are not entering into this lightly and we know that this will cause concern among some members. Our strength is in our numbers.  We need to stand together to fight the state to get funding for public education.  We are also standing together for our students who are being harmed by the Legislature’s lack of action.

The state already lost a major court case (the McCleary Decision) and legislators know they face sanctions from the State Supreme Court if they do not provide adequate funding. However, they have yet to take the necessary steps to show progress towards ample funding. Legislators need to see that their lack of action has consequences.

How and when do we vote on the one day strike?
Members will receive an email at their home email address with an invitation to vote electronically on Monday, April 27. Voting closes at noon on Wednesday, April 29.

NSEA will send emails to your home email address with information about the one day walk out and the current Legislative Session every day this week. If you are not getting emails from NSEA, check your spam filters and Promotions folder (if you have gmail). If you still don’t have emails from Tim Brittell, let your Building Rep know. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Walk Out?

Right now, the Legislature is making the most significant decisions in a generation on education funding, compensation, bargaining rights, testing, class sizes, and more. You can influence the outcome. It's Time!

It's Time for Us to Decide: One Day Walk Out? 

  • Yesterday NSEA Building Reps decided to put to a vote of NSEA members (YOU!) whether NSEA will participate in a one day strike against the State Legislature's proposal for inadequate class size improvements, inadequate salaries, inadequate school funding. 
  • Your Building Rep will be scheduling a meeting at your school this week. Be at this meeting to learn more and to discuss the proposal for a one day strike.
  • Next week, you will receive an email at your home email address with a link to vote on whether NSEA should participate in a one day walk out. Please vote as soon as you get that message.
  • If you have not yet received the April NSEA newsletter from your Building Rep, click here to read it.       
It's Time to Support NESPA

  • Northshore's 470 Paraeducators, Nurses, School Assistants, School Tech Specialists, and others in the Northshore Educational Support Professionals Association (NESPA) begin bargaining TODAY. This affects you. They are seeking to professionalize their work by updating Northshore's outdated staffing model which consists of very low pay, reliance on far too much part time work, not enough time to prepare or to assist teachers and students, and inadequate training and professional development. 
  • Post your pink IT'S TIME poster outside the door to your classroom/workspace so it's visible in the hallway. Show your support for all of these efforts, above. Leave the posters up, as next year IT'S TIME for NSEA to negotiate. 
It's Time to Rally in Olympia
  • Join thousands of educators this coming Saturday, April 25 on the Capitol Steps in Olympia. 9 am to 10:30 am. Be there! You can be back home around noon. For details, and to let us know you are coming, click here.