"Make no mistake, Seattle parents are in it for the long haul."
There is a part of me that is ready to lay on the floor kicking and screaming because we were ready — so, so, so ready — to go back to school. And now I have no idea when that will happen, so we are trapped in some kind of bizarre summer/not summer limbo, and life is a cruel, cruel joke.
Like most parents, I've been eagerly counting down the days until the first day of school. Eagerly, desperately, whatever. Parents, you know what I'm talking about.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've gone school clothes shopping, hauled my motley crew in for haircuts, and I even brought my soon-to-be second graders in to meet their teachers and help prepare their classrooms for the first day of school. But then, the night before school was supposed to start — at 7 freaking p.m., because clearly the district has no fucks to give about crazy things like childcare needs and anxious kids — Seattle Public Schools announced that they had failed to reach an agreement with the teachers and school was closed "until further notice."
That brings me to today, when my children were supposed to be attending their second day of school. Instead, the teachers are striking, and by God I support them with every fiber of my being because our kids need guaranteed recess and reasonable class sizes and teachers who can afford to live in the city where they teach but . . . guys? There is a part of me that is ready to lay on the floor kicking and screaming because we were ready — so, so, so ready — to go back to school. And now I have no idea when that will happen, so we are trapped in some kind of bizarre summer/not summer limbo, and life is a cruel, cruel joke.
But back to something more important than my personal misery. Here in Washington, our state Supreme Court found that the legislature was acting unconstitutionally three damn years ago by failing to fully fund our schools. Did the legislature do a goddamn thing? Of course not. Now, rather than funding our districts and our teachers, the state government is being fined $100,000 a DAY for failure to comply with the court's ruling. Because why not shove your head up your ass and refuse to fund schools even with the threat of impending sanctions?
Here's the thing, though. Seattle teachers didn't want to strike. What they wanted were reasonable class sizes, less focus on teaching to the test, and livable wages. These are fair and reasonable demands, and that is why parents throughout Seattle have rushed to the picket lines to support our teachers. In only a few days, a few thousand parents have joined Facebook groups dedicated to supporting teachers by feeding them meals and joining them on the picket line, and many local businesses have chipped in by donating food, too.
I've seen parents drive food from well-represented schools to under-represented schools and community centers opened to offer free and inexpensive childcare to families, and I've been overwhelmed by the rapid and seemingly endless amount of support that has rolled in from the community. Even when, let's face it, many families rely on school so that they can work. This strike has been hard as hell for many people in our city.
What has become clear after two days on the picket lines is that none of us want to have to take this stand . . . but it is clear that the district, and even the state, will not listen to anything less than a strike. Our teachers deserve fair wages, and our kids deserve a quality education. Education, after all, destroys ignorance, and it brings fewer Kim Davises into the world.
We need our teachers back to work, armed with a fair and reasonable contract, and we need it now. Seattle parents, myself included, are ready for this endless summer to end. But, make no mistake, Seattle parents are in it for the long haul.