As we reported last week, Highline Public Schools Teachers will conduct a one-day walkout this Thursday, May 21, to make a statement to the state legislature about their repeated failure to provide adequate funding for public education. Schools will be closed that day, as the district said that it does not have enough substitute teachers to cover all classes. Highline will make up the school day on May 26, the district’s scheduled snow make-up day. This action is not targeted against the Highline School District. The Highline Education Association (HEA) – the teachers’ union – voted by an 88% majority last Tuesday night (May 12) to participate in a one-day walkout on May 21. According to the union’s website, “teachers and support staff have gone six years without a state cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the Republican Senate budget only includes a small 3 percent COLA over two years and no increase in health care funding, which means teachers will take home less money next year as health care costs rise. Legislators are in line to get 11 percent raises. Several budget proposals would also unjustifiably restrict school districts’ flexibility to make local decisions about teacher compensation and staffing for student programs.” Here’s more info from a release sent to The B-Town Blog:

Highline Education Association members, including teachers and other education professionals such as counselors and psychologists, have voted overwhelmingly to join the wave of rolling strikes across the state to protest the Washington Legislature’s failure to fully fund smaller K-12 class sizes and provide professional, competitive pay and benefits for teachers and school employees. This is not an action we have taken lightly, and we have proactively been communicating and cooperating with Highline School District administration to minimize the impact of the May 21st walkout on students and families. This action is not targeted against the Highline School District, but is a statement to the state legislature about their repeated failure to provide adequate funding for public education. We are teachers because we care about children’s futures. We want the legislature to do its job, and follow the constitution’s mandate that education is its paramount duty. Our students deserve a world-class education, not a cut-rate legislative compromise. Here are some of the issues we are protesting: Class Size: Washington ranks 47th in class size. This is unacceptable. Washington residents have voted twice to lower class size. But the legislature decided to stop funding Initiative-728 and plans to rewrite I-1351 to fund K-3 class size reduction only. This would increase class sizes in grades 4-12. State law requires the state to reduce class sizes in all grades, not just some. Funding for Education: Because the Legislature is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to amply fund education, we helped launch the McCleary court case, which legally forces them to do so. The Supreme Court ruled in our favor. Our legislators, who try to blame teachers, are now in contempt of court. Salary losses to inflation: WEA members took an initiative to voters to provide education employees a Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA. Voters agreed, passing Initiative-732. The Legislature has failed to fund it for the past 7 years, while lining up for an 11% raise for themselves this year. The proposed salary increase in the current budget are as low as 3% and do not make up for the 13% educators already have to inflation. Talented educators are leaving the profession because they cannot support their own families. Testing: At the same time and against our protests, the Legislature is continuing to support a toxic testing environment that is damaging our students and schools. Legislators are even attempting to mandate the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations, a policy that isn’t based on research and that doesn’t help kids. More likely, it will may drive passionate teachers away from working with students who need their help the most. Teachers have less time to teach and fewer resources, yet they have more students, more pressure and more red tape than ever before. The state Legislature is making public education worse, not better. Politicians haven’t listened to teachers, and they’re not providing the support students and educators need to be successful. Our schools need funding for smaller classes, adequate materials and professional wages. Highline teachers and other educators have voted to walk out on May 21 only because we believe it is necessary to do our part to convince the state legislature that they cannot delay any further, and must live up to the promises they have made to students, families, educators, and our community. We hope that Highline families will understand that we are advocating for our students and support us in sending the legislature a clear message that it’s time to fully fund education in Washington State. More information is available at