Seattle Public School Students Miss Start of School as Teachers Go on Strike

Amid nationwide reports of achievement scores dropping for students, a Seattle teachers union votes to delay the start of school amid concerns over salary and resources.


Union members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike ahead of Wednesday’s official start date for students.

Ninety-five percent of union members approved a strike authorization in a Tuesday vote, according to the Seattle Education Association. Seventy-five percent of its 6,000 members voted to deprive Seattle’s 50,000 students of a timely start to the school year, the union said.

“Educators want to be in the classrooms with their students and need SPS to give those students the supports and adult attention they deserve,” the SEA said in a statement.

At issue for the union is increased salary as well as the district maintaining staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students. The strike comes after months of failed negotiations between the union and the school district, the latter of which says it remains committed to both its students and its teachers.


The problem here is that the strike ends up just hurting the students the union says they are advocating for. It makes little sense to argue for staffing and resources for students, only to turn around and deny those students access to any education.

Seattle Public Schools, like most school districts that have dealt with COVID-19 policies and closures, is not seeing the academic success it would like from its students. In February of this year, the district announced its scores from achievement testing were less than satisfactory for any district.

The SBA data shows that 54% of current SPS 4th graders and 51% of current 8th graders met or exceeded standards for math outcomes. Fewer than 50% of students in 11th grade met or exceeded standards. In English language arts/reading results, more than 50% of students in grades 4, 8, and 11 met or exceeded standards.

The district in its statement on scores conceded that it was difficult to compare the scores to previous years because the tests were taken in the Fall of 2021 rather than the Spring. But those who have worked in education know what that means. Such an admission is an attempt to make up for the fact that the scores were not what the district was hoping for.


I spent eight years in a classroom as a teacher. I understand issues with pay, I understand that there is a far higher workload than people realize and that teachers are not compensated enough for some of that work. But the problem with teacher strikes is that, while you are claiming to advocate for students, you are in fact harming them by keeping them out of the classroom.

This is the primary reason, by the way, that scores across the country tanked post-COVID. We kept students out of the classroom and, therefore, away from the potential to get an education. It doesn’t matter how good your public school is. If children aren’t in classrooms, they are going to miss out on learning.


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