Opinion: Teacher strikes tell students it’s OK to break the law

Richard Rylander
Richard Rylander

Former county councilor Richard Rylander shares that teachers’ strikes are illegal in the state of Washington, based on a 2006 court decision

Richard Rylander

We tout that we are a society that follows the “rule of law.” That means that we pass laws with the full expectation that the population will adhere to those laws or suffer consequences. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples at the Federal and State levels where laws are ignored rather than being changed.

Teachers hold a special place in the establishment of the moral and mental development of children in our society. When teachers present information students are expected to believe what they are told. Indeed children go home and share information with their parents that “the teachers said…”

So how is it that teachers can go on strike (illegally) and then turn around and say it was OK for them to break this law but that students should follow the rules? Why shouldn’t students go on strike if/when they don’t like something they are told to do? Remember the old adage “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?” How can students trust and believe in their teacher when laws are only followed (instead of changed) when it suits their needs?

The more times, as a society and as individuals and groups, we selectively follow certain laws but not others we step onto a slippery slope. Some will say it’s OK to fib or cross the line “in this special situation” but students are to follow the rules regardless of whether they agree or not. This path leads to anarchy and the downward spiral of our society.

Some will say that the example of an illegal strike and possible consequences is stretching things or not relevant. As adults and parents and those involved in the education and development of children we have a collective responsibility to practice what we preach.

Richard Rylander
Battle Ground

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret

    In August 2022, the Kent, WA school board discussed and took a vote on whether to take the teacher’s union to court to require them to fulfill their duties as teachers shortly after the strike began. In Clark County, are school boards proposing or taking action to stop illegal strikes?
    This is a WA state law that relates to public school teachers striking instead of working.
    RCW 41.56.120Right to strike not granted. Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his or her official duties.

    Below is link to a news report about the Kent School Board considering going to court to stop teachers from striking.


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