Striking Seattle Teachers Secure Tentative Deal After Rush of Community Support

Seattle teachers on Monday night expressed gratitude for “solidarity on the picket lines” and “enormous community support” that they received over the past week while on strike, as the city’s teachers union announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the school district.

The Seattle Education Association saidIt had secured a three-year contract with an improved and maintained teacher/student ratio for special education classes, additional staffing for mental health across all schools, as well as annual pay increases.

“We should all be proud of what we accomplished and what we stood up for: student supports and respect for educators,” said the SEA. “We made real progress not only in our contract but also in rallying with our community these past several weeks.”

The school district announced that classes would begin Tuesday.

SEA members overwhelmingly voted last Wednesday to strike. They are demanding raises, especially for lower-paid educators, school office staff, and new limits on workload and class size.

Jeanine Calceta, substitute teacher from Seattle, recorded a short video thanking community members who supported her on the picket lines during this strike.

“One of the most remarkable things that I’ve seen on the picket lines is how much attention we’ve gained nationwide and how much support we’ve gained from our family and community members,” said Calceta.

Melissa DiLorenzo, mother to a high school student in the City. toldThe Associated Press She and her son were both active participants in the picket line walk and expressed dismay at the earlier contract proposals made by Seattle Public Schools.

“Maybe it’s because of Covid—parents have a newfound appreciation for what teachers go through,” DiLorenzo told the AP. “I would like to see the district listen to educators about what they need in the classroom—I would like to see mental health supports in place, in the form of counselors, social workers, nurses.”

Federal lawmakers supported the union as well, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

“This contract negotiation is one more step (albeit an important one!) along our years- and even decades-long journey to achieve the schools we all deserve,” said the SEA. “After two incredibly difficult years impacted by Covid and so much more, it is beautiful to know that the community love and support for educators and our public schools is as strong as ever.”

“We can and must continue to connect and rally with our communities for the schools our students deserve,” the union added, “whether locally or down in Olympia.”