A pyrrhic victory for the Kent School District

You can almost feel the Seattle Times editorial board gloating after a King County judge levied sanctions on Kent teachers—an onerous $200 per day, per teacher, retroactive—but if I were a Kent teacher, rather than go back to work, as the district, court and Times demand, or stay on strike and pay the fine, I’d simply quit my job.

Really. I know myself, and I simply couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability, knowing that I was working for an employer who disrespected me. And in asking for sanctions while rejecting a contract offer below it’s own original proposal, the Kent School District has shown its teachers an incredible amount of disrespect.

When the Kent teachers union made an offer Thursday morning that was $200,000 less than the Kent School District’s own bottom line yet would still reduce class sizes, teachers thought they had a solution that would bring an end to the now 16-day strike.

They were hoping to reach a tentative agreement before a 1 p.m. hearing before the judge who had issued an injunction Sept. 1 ordering the teachers back to the classroom on Sept. 8.

So when the district rejected the union’s offer — and made no plans for future bargaining sessions — the teachers were stunned. […] Then came King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas’ sanctions — $200 a day per teacher, retroactive to Sept. 8, and $1,500 a day for the teachers union if teachers are not in class and ready for students on Monday.

Rather than bargaining in good faith the district obviously chose to use the courts to force teachers back to work on the district’s terms, leaving the union with little or no bargaining power.  Well fuck that.

Just because the district can use the courts, doesn’t mean it should, and given the choice between breaking my union or paying a fine I can’t afford, I’d simply choose neither. I mean, why the hell would I want to work for bastards like that?

Of course, this contract dispute will be settled in the end—they always are—and few if any teachers will quit their jobs in the process. But the bitterness will remain, and it will surely exact a toll on the district, the teachers and the students for years to come. So while the Times vindictively celebrates the district’s victory in court, in the end, everybody loses.

Comments

  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    From the Times Article:

    When teachers voted Sept. 7 to disobey the injunction, they realized the “stand they were taking would put them in legal jeopardy” and that sanctions were likely, said Folkerts. They voted to not return to class without a signed contract, he said.

    while police and firefighters are subject to binding arbitration, teachers are not

    “The court doesn’t have any power to decide the merits of the disagreement” between the district and the union, Darvas said. But the strike is clearly in violation of the law and the contracts teachers signed — and, she added, “it’s a poor example to set for the young people who are looking to their teachers as role models.”

    First the article says the teachers don’t have a contract and then it says the strike in in violation of their contract???

    How can you have and not have a contract at the same time?

    Assuming the teachers don’t have a contract how can a judge force fine them for not working?

  2. 2

    Michael spews:

    That should be “is in” not “in in,” of course.

    Too much coffee is bad for your editing skills.

  3. 3

    BigGlen spews:

    Living in Kent School District I know this is a total disaster. My kids went to Kent Schools and my sept-daughter is currently in 8th grade (when school starts). The to main issues of the strike are class size and meetings. And all side in this strike have known about these problems for years. The district has not even tried to reduce the class sizes. When there is a second grade class that has 30 – 35 students in it of which about a third come from a home where English is not the main language spoken how much teaching is getting done? Very little, this is warehousing. Then you throw in 4-5 meeting a week after school there is even less teaching getting done.
    I have a friend who did teach second grade in Kent schools. She did get awards for her teaching skills. She got tried of the large classes. She got tried of scheduling time after school to work one on one with students who need the help only to cancel the time at the last minute because the principal scheduled a last minute meeting. Subject matter for the meeting was pat the principal on the back day.
    She quit, she nows works teaching third grade in Barrow Alaska. It is Night for 2 months a year It is cold most of the time. She does not like the dark or the cold. She is very happy there because she can teach again. Class size 20-25 students, the principal schedules the few meeting around the students time. It is nice.
    This strike did not start on 08/26/2009 (or 08/31/2009) it started a years ago with the good teachers leaving either for other teaching jobs else where or leaving teaching altogether. And this strike is not over yet, more teachers will leave and the good ones will go first.

  4. 5

    Archon Survivor spews:

    But the important thing is that the judge will have demonstrated her judicial clout. That’s what happens when you put the power of the state behind a pea-brained power-tripper.

  5. 6

    Blue John spews:

    I’d be moving my kid out of that school district as fast as I could move.
    What leverage do the teachers have besides striking?
    I think the school district is being stupid.

  6. 7

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Hey Headless @5 great comment:

    That’s what happens when you put the power of the state behind a pea-brained power-tripper.

    Judge Darvas’ jockstraps…
    King County Police Officers Guild
    King County Labor Council
    Washington Conservation Voters
    King County Women’s Political Caucus
    City of SeaTac Professional Firefighters Local 2919
    NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
    Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587
    Washington State Chiropractic Association
    International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 17
    Seattle/King County Building & Construction Trades Council
    Carpenters Union Local 1797
    Aerospace Machinists District Lodge 751
    King County Democrats
    Democrat Legislative District Nos. 1, 5, 11, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 41, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48
    King County Young Democrats
    Communications Workers of America Local 7800 (In NJ they are good buds with Jon Corzine)
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77 Hmmm… IBEW – now what has Puddy heard about them lately?
    KVI-Seattle: Kirby’s Election Picks
    Associated General Contractors of Washington
    King County Journal
    Seattle Times
    The Seattle Medium
    Northwest Asian Weekly

    Thanks headless. We know who supports her and she’s a pea-brain. You have a way of describing your own kind…..

    This ranks up there with ylb Non-Seeing Eye saying Democratic Senators were bought off earlier this week on the Kyoto Treaty vote.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  7. 9

    Steve spews:

    These folks?

    “Stand Up for Health Insurance Reform

    Make a call TODAY if you possibly can, and tomorrow if you can’t call today.

    Get your spouse to call, and ask your co-workers to call as well

    Today and Tomorrow! September 10-11

    Target: Senators Murray and Cantwell

    Message for Murray: Support the Kennedy HELP Bill, and tell your colleagues like Senators Reid and Durbin to do the same

    Message for Cantwell: Move a bill forward in the Finance Committee by Sept 15, and tell your colleagues like Senators Reid and Durbin to get health care done

    Number: 1-877-264-HCAN (4226) — direct to the Congressional switchboard”

  8. 11

    spews:

    Well, well this bunch doesn’t read the Washington Policy blog. @1, plz go HERE and then HERE.

    Just thought I should share once in a long while… then run like hell from the poop.

  9. 16

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    Hey headless@13, you done stepped in it. You know your own kind… pea-brained power trippers. Republican King County Judge? They are as scarce as brains in a liberal.

    You and ylb Non-Seeing Eye, two peas in a pod.

  10. 18

    Michael spews:

    @11

    Thanks! Kinda weird to be under a contract when you’re not under a contract, but with lawyers anything is possible.

    After the termination date of a collective bargaining agreement, all of the terms and conditions specified in the collective bargaining agreement shall remain in effect until the effective date of a subsequent agreement

  11. 20

    Archon Survivor spews:

    re 16: Everything isn’t a partisan pissing contest. If you deny the teachers the right to strike, you deny them any leverage to improve their own situation.

    If student and parental gripes are held in higher regard than a teacher’s right to responsibly chastise an unruly student, then there can be no class discipline.

  12. 21

    Archon Survivor spews:

    re 16: Is the attitude that you are displaying explain your seeming obsession with defending any and all idiotic actions and statements by your stupid ass republican party?

    I’ll bet you’ve never even read the Federalist papers.

  13. 22

    drool spews:

    Sorry Goldy, but gotta disagree. The teachers now have some skin in the game to the tune of $200/day. Just like me when I go on strike I don’t earn money. Previous to the fine they had it both ways…they got to go on strike AND get a full year’s pay.

    #1, The strike is in violation of law, contract or not. The Attorney General said as much.

  14. 23

    proudtobeanass spews:

    @22: Teachers have skin in the game? OK. What about the District? Unlike a private company, they do not forgoe revenue during a strike or lockout. Let’s make that equal also. So, 1,000 teachers at $200/day is $200K. Why not return a like amount to the state general fund per day and see who cries uncle first?

    Seems fair to me.

    Violation of the law? I give you Guantanamo and torture. You lose. Badly.

  15. 24

    spews:

    drool, thanks for that.

    Hopefully everybody will watch this and learn that there’s reasons why this strike in Kent must end. It’s a circus and it’s sickening.

  16. 25

    proudtobeanass spews:

    @7: NARAL and the Chiropractors? HaHa. Now there’s some real fence straddling!

    But you are a stupid putz. A good judge is bound by precedent, and alas the law is the law. So unlike you mastubatory hero Scalia in Bush v. Gore (and others), judge Darvas made the correct call.

    But a bit overly punative if you ask me. So joke’s on you pudddtz.

  17. 26

    proudtobeanass spews:

    @19: Numbputz is shocked that a union supports the Employee Free Choice Act?

    The stupid. It hurtz.

  18. 27

    spews:

    The average class size in Mexico is smaller than in the U.S., and the average class size in Japan is larger than in the U.S.

    Would your child receive a better education Japan or Mexico?

  19. 29

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    It sounds like the state law should be changed so that teachers are treated the same as police and fire (two other public employee unions not allowed to strike) – they (and the district) should be subject to binding arbitration. It would prevent districts from using court fines to pummel teachers and try undermine them.

  20. 31

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    The Seattle Times won’t be happy until 99% of the population is living in mud huts, spending company script at the company store.

    The judge in this case is a first class asshole.

    I don’t care how big you union is, it can’t compete with the Attorney General’s office. The worst thing that happened with my union in the last ten years is that when grievances are filed, all legal costs are paid for by each side. It used to be the loser would pay for this. Since the corporations, and in this case, the government have huge pockets, and the AG on retainer, guess how this little gem is playing out with unions. It weakened us terribly.

    And think about this, all of this is happening with union protection. Think about all those poor Boeing saps who just quit their union. What protection do they have? The absolute best thing a union provides is job protection. Otherwise you can be fired for looking cross-eyed at the bi-polar son of the boss.

  21. 32

    spews:

    @31 Bud

    I really love your comments about the Washington State AGO. There were other options than illegally striking and now the people have our Attorney General providing the tools to suppress illegal behaviour!

    Oh and Judge Andrea Darvas is no asshole. She’s our new Sarah Palin!!!!!!!!

  22. 33

    Mark1 spews:

    Since you obviously have a poor work ethic, if any at all Goldy, it’s ironic that you voice an opinion whatsoever about the teachers and their labor dispute. Habitually unemployed and/or “between jobs” people like you and YLB are hardly in a position to talk about any of this. Good luck with the job hunt, assuming you are on one and not just lollygagging and living off others’ handouts. What an fine example you set for that daughter of yours!

  23. 35

    X'ad spews:

    But the bitterness will remain, and it will surely exact a toll on the district, the teachers and the students for years to come. So while the Times vindictively celebrates the district’s victory in court, in the end, everybody loses.

    While Josef and the other “keep-teachers-and-all-public-employees/slaves-starving-it-is-god’s-will” crowd rejoices that they have “won”, more sensible people realize that the district has doomed itself to second or third rate for many years. Let’s hear it for Holy Capitalist Control.

    Yeah Josef, I think that you and St Sarah are the future of this country, considering the cowardice of the democrats. That’s why I am leaving the sewer this country is becoming.

    Bye suckers. Enjoy what you reap.

  24. 37

    X'ad spews:

    Doesn’t matter, Josef. I was commenting here from there for weeks this summer. You won’t know which country I’m in.

    Why on earth would you care?

  25. 38

    snowshoeman spews:

    The Kent SD “issues” being played in the press are sorely lacking data for objective analysis. Most of the stories about 4 or 5 meetings a week are anecdotal. I’ll bet the problem is with a couple of schools/principals. This should be an easy one for both sides to agree to and fix.

    The class size issue is interesting. If you look at the class size data on the school district web site for last year, it appears that for every “large” class, there are many, many classes with 25 or fewer kids. No one seems to want to talk about this. As a former secondary teacher I can readily attest to the fact that most school years I would have 1 or 2 classes with 34 or 35 kids, but my other three classes would have 20, 21, 22. I didn’t complain. This is a fact of life. Perfectly balancing classes and predicting enrollment at a particular age at a particular school is very difficult in public schools. Throw in the fact that often there are imbalances in enrollment from school to school, which often result in significant variation in class size from school to school and you have a complex situation. Parents get hysterical around the issue of attendance boundary changes….especially if they have to make adjustments in September due to an unexpected bulge in attendance. Sometimes this results in large classes with no easy solutions to fix it. If class size demands by Kent teacher were in place, what happens when too many fifth graders show up in September at a particular school and there is no classroom space to put them? The district would have to bus them to a different school…which is expensive, disruptive for the students, and results in many angry parents.

    Another concern I have in observing the rhetoric coming out of the strike is the lack of data being surfaced around the issue of student learning/performance and class size. Much of the research I have stumbled on, from pretty reputable sources, appears to indicate class size does not have much impact on student performance until class is reduced to less than about 15 kids. Surely smaller classes are preferred and are generally easier to manage. But do the benefits of smaller classes exceed the costs associated with providing smaller classes? Evidence suggests, given the substantial cost of mandating smaller classes as Kent teachers demand that it would not likely pass a cost – benefit test.

    Another issue I find somewhat ironic is that the Kent teachers were stunned when their offer to the school district on Thursday morning, which was reportedly $200,000 less than the district’s current offer, was turned down. The $200,000 the teachers union was willing to give up was for $2,000 stipends to first year teachers…those that could least afford to give up money. So much for the teacher’s union leadership claims that the issue is about class size.

    The ongoing situation in Kent is aggravating for everyone on both sides. The issues are complex. Unfortunately, most people are not really willing to take the time to really understand the issues and the district appears to be unable to clearly articulate some of the concerns I have touched on above.

  26. 39

    spews:

    Josef @ 36,

    “X’ed, are you gone yet?”

    More to the point, why the fuck are you back?

    (BTW: Are you still obsessed with Rossi’s former spokesperson Mary Lane?)

  27. 40

    X'ad spews:

    (BTW: Are you still obsessed with Rossi’s former spokesperson Mary Lane?)

    My goodness! What have I missed? Care to refresh us, Darryl?

  28. 41

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Really. I know myself, and I simply couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability, knowing that I was working for an employer who disrespected me.~ Goldy

    Yeah, well, now you know how the kids feel. Not to mention a supposed role model that is willfully breaking the law. What an example of modern liberalism…if at first you don’t succeed, fall to the ground and emulate a 2 year old toddler in full temper tantrum…

  29. 43

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    @ 42 ~ That’s called free speech. Read about it in a thing called the US constitution.

    Especially when the person he called a liar was lying his ass off left and right and calling others liars before the American public….sometimes the truth hurts.

  30. 44

    X'ad spews:

    You wouldn’t recognize the US Constitution if it bit you in the ass. You think torture is in the US Constitution? Yes. of course you do. That’s the problem. You are an idiot.

  31. 46

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    @ 44 I don’t argue with idiots…don’t have the time.
    Oh, and your bold font button is on, you may want to check that.

    Bottom line in this teacher strike is they are breaking the law. They knew this when they agreed to their contract that striking by public employees in this and half the states in this nation is ILLEGAL. Now, if these dumbfucks can’t understand their own contract with the state, they’re probably not qualified to teach in the first place.

    Fine their dumbasses till they quit or get back to doing the work the state is paying them to do. Plenty of educators are willing to fill the void.

  32. 47

    X'ad spews:

    @OES

    That’s good, because nothing you have said constitutes a valid argument. We have no expectation of recovery from your condition.

    The Bold is on because I figure you need all the help you can get reading English.

    Oh, and your cerebral cortex is turned off. You might want to try to turn it back on.

  33. 48

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    47. X’ ad spews:

    @OES

    Not only are you an idiot, but you appear to be dyslexic. Apparently the victim of Kent school district teaching.

    Run along now child.

  34. 49

    IAFF Fireman spews:

    Because Goldy has NEVER paid Union Dues, drives a non-union car and has been a scab, I always find it funny when he tries to act like he knows what the hell he is talking about. His claim that the District is not Bargaining in Good Faith fails to recognize that the teachers are on an ILLEGAL strike. Furthermore, by violating a judges order, they are breaking the law again. When the teachers quit their ILLEGAL actions, then they might have a very small against the District. However, it’s the Teachers who actually aren’t bargaining in good faith. In fact, they are violating the contract that they are working under (Their expired contract is extended if one isn’t ratified).

    Goldy, When will you quit hating on the American Worker, and buy an American made UNION car, and hold your DL event at a UNION ESTABLISHMENT????? Why the disdain towards those of us who actually pay our dues?

  35. 50

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    In fact, they are violating the contract that they are working under (Their expired contract is extended if one isn’t ratified).

    exactly IAFF, I’ve said that in here before to only deaf ears. Goldy’s house of marionettes don’t want the truth nor the reality to get in their way. Their only goal is to push an agenda.

    The teacher’s need to either go back to teaching, quit or be fired. A terrible example to set for an impressionable youth about the “rule of law” in this country.
    (btw, the extension of the contract is for 1 year last I heard)

  36. 51

    spews:

    09/12/2009 at 9:58 am

    It’s called sarcasm, demoncrat.

    09/12/2009 at 10:20 am

    None of your business but since you asked… I’m working w/ one of her deputies on this caper to give some hell to pro-strike, anti-constitution forces.

    Yes, Darryl the Gregocrat, it’s Marummy Time! Sometime, that needs to be YouTubed! As Dean Logan will tell you, it hurts as much as Seahawks comin’ at Bachmann’s Vikings or Logan’s Chargers, Rob McKenna’s 30 McKenna-McKenna cooking off at socialists on KIRO-FM or your local tea party or Sarah Palin behind her Facebook toy!

    Now if you want to save a teacher, tell them to go back to work. If you want to break the KEA and possibly the WEA, encourage them to strike past bankruptcy…

    Draw your own conclusions.

  37. 52

    Natsim spews:

    @46

    I hate to break it to you, but our state is in the lowest in terms of ranking for teacher pay. I’m a teacher, I know. We have experienced a shortage of teachers over the years and, despite the economy, we still are lacking in numbers.

    Many of the teachers RIF’d in Seattle returned to their jobs due to increased enrollment. I’m sure the same happened in many other districts, as people find themselves strapped to ante up the tuition for private school.

    Also, you won’t find many teachers willing to cross a picket line. I know I wouldn’t. We stand in solidarity for each other, because we all realize how important, yet hard, our jobs have become. Budgets are cut annually, even before this economic downturn, and we lose or cut back on vital personnel from our buildings such as school nurses, librarians, etc., as well as monies for basic supplies to do our jobs.

    These teachers are striking for their rights to reasonable job accommodations and living wages.

  38. 53

    Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:

    proudtobeanass@25 tried to make a point but lost badly

    A good judge is bound by precedent, and alas the law is the law. judge Darvas made the correct call.

    Then ProudASS you should be attacking headless fool. headless wrote:

    That’s what happens when you put the power of the state behind a pea-brained power-tripper.

    #7 was the PuddyAnswer to headless. Puddy showed who jock-strapped for the judge. Too bad you are a moronic idiot.

    Butt, don’t let a thread get in the way of another of your insipid comments.