Letter: Teachers using threats of illegal strikes to obtain demands

Options to traditional public school are available to students

Some Clark County school districts provide students close to the minimum number of instructional hours required by law, yet teachers unions are again demanding hefty pay hikes as high as 25 percent using threats of an Illegal public school teacher strike to obtain their demands. An editorial by ClarkCountyToday.com sums up the local situation, Teachers are not underpaid.    

Margaret Tweet
Margaret Tweet

According to RCW 28A.150.220, Washington state public schools are to provide a minimum of 1000 hours of instruction to students in K-12 per year, spread out over at least 180 days of instruction. What counts as instruction? Recess, class changes, parent teacher conferences, and for high school seniors, the last five days of school regardless of instruction. Time spent for meals is not supposed to be counted.  Comparing the Camas School District calendar from 2004-2018, instruction hours have decreased as teacher pay demands have increased.

A look at the Camas calendar for elementary school shows a typical school day from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Every Wednesday, elementary school is only half day, from 9 a.m.-1:10 p.m., which includes lunch. Starting in 2014, elementary students are now released early for parent-teacher conferences instead of the previous after-school timeframe. The upper grades enjoy a growing number of late start days, 40 late starts in the 2018-19, up from 36 in 2004. Transportation costs are the same for short days as for longer days.  Teachers are paid for non-instruction days such as in-service and grading days.

In Clark County a few years ago, teachers went on strike during the year, and tacked on a 2-hour “make up” day at the end of the year for it. However, few students attended the “make up,” and little instruction took place since classes and graduation were over.

The legislature appropriated extra funding for extra instructional hours in high school starting in 2014, but school districts objected.  Instead, a note in the law explains, “the legislature intends to shift the focus and intent of the investments from compliance with the minimum instructional hours offering to assisting school districts to provide an opportunity for students to earn twenty-four credits for high school graduation and obtain a meaningful diploma, beginning with the graduating class of 2019, “ Note on RCW for minimum instruction requirements WA state moved to universal full-day kindergarten in 2017-2018, increasing K instruction time from 450 hours to 1000 hours/year.

According to the Washington Policy Center, “it appears the WEA union is targeting class size reduction funding for additional, double-digit pay increases … giving “kids a strong start” with smaller class sizes has vanished from the current media narrative, replaced with stories of allegedly underpaid teachers.” Are Public Schools Bargaining Away Class Size Reduction $?

Teachers can give themselves a raise by keeping the salary they have previously paid for union dues. Need to know information for public employees who want to keep their pay and stop funding dues

Options to traditional public school are available to students. Publicly funded online K-11 schools like Washington Connections Academy and others can be accessed. Private School options abound in Clark County. Home School is an option that can be supported by resource centers like the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, a nonprofit, 5-day/week facility in Vancouver that offers classes in science, art, choir, music, history, math, reading, and tutoring. Vocational schools such as the Cascadia Tech Academy offers career and technical education for High School juniors and seniors to earn college credits as well as certifications and licenses specific to their program areas. Illegal strikes don’t serve students, or taxpayers.

Margaret Tweet

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