Northwest NEWS

August 26, 2002


Let's get the facts right

I have been a teacher in Northshore School district for 36 years. Like Kirby Larsen, I am proud of the accomplishments of Northshore, students, staff and parents. I am grateful for the continuous support of schools by the North Shore community.
   Kirby is mistaken with the idea that the problems in Northshore School District are being caused by a "small vocal element of the Northshore Education Association." In fact 93 percent of Northshore teachers, in a meeting where all teachers were invited, voted to authorize a strike vote. This is not a small minority!
   So, where is the problem? Northshore Education Association members have very carefully examined the district budget and listened to the administration.
   I agree with Kirby. The issues are complex and it is not in the best interest of teachers to cause a financial crisis in Northshore School District. Teacher morale is at the lowest point I have ever seen in my 36 years here as an educator. Why?
   Northshore School District is not the district it was eight years ago. Then we had a ratio of about one counselor to 300 students in our secondary schools. Now it is one to 500, and one of the worst ratios in the state. Elementary teachers had a full continuous planning period and specialists to teach, science, P.E., music and other programs to provide time for teachers to plan.
   Concrete, WA teachers still have that, but Northshore teachers don't! Class sizes have gone up in Northshore.Though the state provides money for each student enrolled Northshore, for two years running did not hire over 30 teachers. While that did add about $3 million to the reserve, the cost to teachers and students cannot be calculated. Over 700 extra students were put in classes throughout Northshore, and administration is planning to leave it that way!
   Against teacher input, even I-728 money was not used to lower these class sizes. There are other glaring examples of misplaced priorities in the Northshore budget. All have created a climate of very low morale for teachers.
   Kirby, if you look closely and listen you will find it is not the Teachers Association that is not listening, but the Northshore Administration that is not paying attention to the needs of its teachers or its students. The issue is not wages or benefits, it is about putting a priority on resources and teachers in the classrooms in Northshore. Teachers do not want to strike, but we may have no choice.
   This issue is about children, not dollars! Help us make Northshore even better than it was eight years ago.
   Northshore School District has the resources to do all of this!
   Mike Reid, NSEA member and Northshore teacher