August 12, 2002
A strike would hurt the wrong people
We have never regretted our decision to send our children to public schools and are grateful for the educational opportunities offered in the Northshore School District. In addition, during our travels around the country, we have come into contact with many people who are aware of our district. Without exception, they have expressed rave reviews regarding our schools, fine administration and teachers.
Now, we are faced with a challenge. Our positive experiences and goodwill are being threatened by a small but vocal element of the Northshore Teachers' Association (NSEA). In spite of the school district's best efforts to communicate financial information, NSEA leadership refuses to listen. In fact, negotiations have become so complex and cumbersome that mediation is being sought for the first time in at least a decade.
From our perspective, it appears that no matter how carefully the district explains its budget and related constraints, NSEA leadership cannot grasp basic issues. We would agree that, even though Northshore pays higher teacher salaries than many other districts, it is not enough. This, however, is not a district-level issue or decision. It is a state issue, requiring radical changes at that level. It appears that NSEA leadership is unfairly punishing our local district for legislative actions.
During this time of extreme financial difficulties statewide, it is unconscionable that NSEA leadership would encourage a strike action. A strike would hurt the wrong people - first and foremost, it will hurt our children, those least likely to withstand such a blow. Second, such an action would crush the faithful and supportive Northshore community which has time and time again voted to approve levies and bonds, in addition to the myriad of other ways it supports our schools and teachers.
The NSEA leadership should be reminded that a strike by public employees is illegal and that there are severe consequences for such actions. We ask this district's teachers - the ones we've supported with our votes, our dollars and our time - to attend the upcoming meeting and vote to ratify the proposed contract. Do not cast your vote to strike. We will all lose with such an action.
Neil and Kirby Larson, Kenmore