Tag Archives: Union
Published by The South Seattle Emerald
by Jesse Hagopian
By Wednesday this week every school in Seattle will have held a union vote to decided if our Seattle Education Association (SEA) should go out on strike on May Day—International Worker’s Day—to demand full funding for education, to support our immigrant students, and to defend union rights.
I am voting yes!—and I hope that the rest of the educators join me in authorizing this walkout for the schools our students deserve.
Here in Washington State, our state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that our state legislature was in violation of the state Constitution’s “Paramount Duty” to amply provide for education. The court has fined the legislature and found them in contempt of court for failing to support public education. And yet we have seen our legislature continue to funnel money to the wealthiest corporations in our state, giving away billions in tax breaks to Boeing and maintaining tax loopholes for the rich. Washington State is one of only a few states without an income tax and ranks dead last with most regressive tax structure in the nation. The year 2017 was the final year that the state Supreme Court gave the legislature to fix the funding problem and it is clear that the legislature has no plans to start following the law anytime soon.
We have tried emailing, calling and asking nicely for the legislature to follow the law and fund education. That hasn’t worked.
Now it’s time to show the collective power of labor. We held a one-day walkout two years ago as part of a rolling strike wave across the state to pressure the state legislature. That was an important action that raised awareness, brought families into the streets with teachers in a common struggle, and gave teachers a glimpse of their power. But this one-day strike has the potential to have a much bigger impact than the last because the Martin Luther King County Labor Council passed a resolution calling on all the locally affiliated unions to go out on May Day. As the Seattle Weekly reported,
SEA isn’t the only union flirting with a May Day strike. UAW Local 4121 is also voting on strike action, according to the op-ed. (We’ve got a line out to the union.) And the Martin Luther King County Labor Council voted last week in favor of a resolution supporting strikes and other direct actions (for instance, teach-ins) on May Day in cooperation with organizers of the labor and immigrant marches.
Many unions are looking to the SEA to see if we strike. If we do, others could follow and it could become a mass outpouring of labor solidarity that truly has the power to shake up the one percent and their political representatives in the legislature and make them heed our demands for education and union rights.
In addition to the urgency around education funding in our state, the May 1st Coalition in Seattle has called on workers to strike for immigrant rights on May Day, and there will be a massive outpouring of humanity at a rally that day to stand against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. All the anti-immigrant rhetoric and deportations are demoralizing our students, splitting them apart from their families, and leading to hate crimes. Moreover, there is a push by the Trump administration and within the federal government to ratify anti-union, so-called “right to work” legislation, that would gut union protections.
I am voting to strike because I believe we as educators should join the struggle for immigrant rights and I see that as a vital component to a better education system.
I’m not content to teach students about the mass strikes and boycotts of the past that won social programs and the right to unionize–I know we actually need to bring back that history and make it real for our students by demonstrating what it looks like in practice. I’m ready to make the streets my classroom on the first of May and teach a lesson about union power and collective struggle that the rich and powerful won’t soon forget.
“We’ve got your back”: These luminaries for social justice support the hundreds of Seattle educators wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to school on Oct. 19th
With over 2,000 Seattle educators now having ordered “Black Lives Matter” shirts to wear to school on Oct. 19th, #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool day is shaping up to be a historic demonstration. In addition to wearing the shirts, many educators will also use the day to lead discussions about institutional racism and what Black Lives Matter means. This action has been endorsed by the Seattle Education Association, the Seattle council PTSA board, the Social Equality Educators, and the Seattle NAACP. In addition, over 200 scholars from around the country have issued their support in a collective statement of solidarity.
Now some of the country’s preeminent activists, racial justice advocates, and authors, have added their voice to the calls of support for this unprecedented action!
Seattle teachers who choose to wear T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter” and “We Stand Together” have our full support. In the United States today, we cannot do enough to affirm and support our black students. Seattle’s teachers are not only well within their right to exercise freedom of speech by wearing such T-shirts, they are making an important gesture of solidarity — one that gives us hope for the future.
Seattle teachers: we’ve got your back!
John Carlos was was the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics and raised his fist on the podium with Tommie Smith, in what became an iconic protest of racism in the U.S. Today, he is an author, human rights activist, and speaker.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige is Professor Emerita at Lesley University where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the University’s Center for Peaceable Schools. Nancy is the author of five books and numerous articles and op-eds on media and technology, conflict resolution, peaceable classrooms, and education reform. Her most recent book is called Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids.
Noam Chomsky is a Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media.
Melissa Harris-Perry hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on MSNBC. She is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center.
Joyce E. King was voted president the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the leading organization of education scholarship in 2013. A visionary teacher and scholar, King is the author of several books and has served since 2004 as the Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning and Leadership and Professor of Educational Policy Studies in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University.
Jonathan Kozol received the National Book Award for Death at an Early Age, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Rachel and Her Children, and countless other honors for Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace, The Shame of the Nation, and Fire in the Ashes.
Etan Thomas, has made his mark far beyond the boundaries of his 11 years in the NBA. In 2005, Thomas released his first book, a collection of poems called More Than An Athlete (Haymarket Books) that set Thomas apart as “this generation’s athlete with a moral conscious and a voice.”
Opal Tometi is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter and is credited with creating the online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during the project’s early days. She serves as the executive director for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).
Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media publisher whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder of Define American. In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant.
Dave Zirin was named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World,” he writes about the politics of sports for the Nation Magazine. Author of eight books on the politics of sports, he has been called “the best sportswriter in the United States,” by Robert Lipsyte.
RESPECT is on the Rise: I lost my bid for SEA union president by 45 votes, but the Social Equality Educators have never been stronger!
Thanks to everyone for your support for the Social Equality Educator’s (SEE) RESPECT campaign in the recent Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election! Our campaign generated more excitement than ever before–both inside the union and among social justice and education thought leaders who supported my run for president of the union. In the end, I came up just 45 votes short of becoming the next president of the SEA, in the biggest voter turnout in our union’s history. Given that no one I have spoken to can remember an incumbent being unseated in SEA history, and that I received more votes than were cast in the entire last election, it is clear that there is a new upsurge occurring in our union. I gave this interview to KUOW, Seattle’s local NPR affiliate the day after the election summing up the results and laying out SEE’s vision for schools.
While it’s tough to lose by such a close margin, I am thrilled by the many accomplishments of this campaign.
SEE RESPECT candidates swept the high school Executive Board positions in the SEA, split the middle school seats, and won 6 seats overall! Dan Troccoli, the SEE candidate for treasurer, is in a special runoff election, the outcome of which we find out on June 4th. (Please support our efforts by donating to Dan’s campaign!).
Yet our campaign for RESPECT accomplished much more than just getting candidates elected.
SEE set out with a goal of getting over 50% of the members to participate in the election–and we surpassed our goal, with over 53% of members voting! We said from the beginning that the most important element of a strong union is an active membership, regardless of who is running the union. The SEA is becoming more active than ever and SEE is proud to have helped sparked discussions and debates that have greatly aided in members’ taking a greater interest in how to best organize our union. While there certainly have been some initiatives that the current SEA leadership have undertaken that have helped engage members (such as one-on-on listening sessions with members), there is no doubt that SEE is playing a vital role in activating the rank-and-file of the union around the key eduction issues of the day such as standardized testing, racial justice and the opportunity gap, and teacher evaluations.
In building after building across Seattle, candidates from the SEE’s RESPECT slate explained our vision to hundreds of SEA members: The contract educators deserve, the schools our children deserve, and the city our families deserve.
We said that the contract we deserve would set caseload caps for our counselors and other Education Support Associates (ESAs)—something the district has repeatedly promised would happen at some future date and something our union has continually backed down on. We said that the contract we deserve would have fair and sustainable teacher evaluations that were not dependent on unreliable, curriculum-narrowing standardized tests. Unfortunately, in contract negotiations SEA allowed Seattle to became the only city in the entire state to allow two measures of student growth in educators’ evaluations, including the use of state standardized tests scores.
The RESPECT campaign argued that the schools our children deserve would replace zero tolerance disciplinary procedures, which have resulted in African American students being suspended at five times the rate of their white peers, with restorative justice models designed to help students solve their problems collectively. We asserted that the schools students deserve would provide a holistic education that supports educators in promoting a multicultural education that is explicitly anti-racist, challenges gender bias, and undermines homophobia. And we said that our union has partner with parents to make a public campaign during contract negotiations around lowering class size to achieve the individual attention our students deserve.
We were also able to make an argument during this election for the role our schools play in the overall health of our city, and lay out a strategy for our union to play a more proactive role in the issues—such as a $15 minimum wage, affordable transportation, and affordable housing—that impact the families we serve.
Most importantly, in this election the Social Equality Educators helped to popularize a program which asserted that our union is strongest when we partner with parents and community organizations in a common struggle to defend public education from corporate education reformers. This idea was put into practice during last year’s boycott of the MAP test, when we built a broad-based coalition that included the Garfield PTSA, the Seattle/King County NAACP, Parents Across America, the Garfield Student Body Government, hundreds of educators, and many others in the community. The overwhelmingly positive response we received from teachers around the district to this strategy of coalition building shows the great potential for joining public education stakeholders in a common struggle.
The Social Equality Educators have only just begun in our quest for social movement unionism to achieve social justice inside and outside the classroom.
Voting has begun!
I am running for president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) with a dozen other educators on the RESPECT ticket. We want to transform our union to become a powerful force to defend public education from corporate education reformers. Many of us were leaders in the MAP test boycott and we all believe that a union that builds partnerships with parents and community organizations can achieve the contract educators deserve, the schools our children deserve, and the city our families deserve. If you believe in our vision, please donate to support our campaign here. In this video we explain our vision for what RESPECT means and how to achieve it:
Please share this video widely and ask any educator you know in Seattle to consider voting for our slate of candidates. Seattle educators can cast–or change–their vote unit voting closes on Wednesday, May 7th. Information on the candidates and instructions for SEA members on how to vote are here.
It is time to Elect RESPECT!
Help Elect RESPECT: Donate to support social justice union slate & Jesse Hagopian’s bid for president of the Seattle Education Association
I am writing to ask for your support in my bid to be the president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA)–the union representing teachers, instructional assistants, councilors, clerical workers, and support staff who work in the Seattle Public Schools.
No one I have talked to can remember a time when a union president incumbent was unseated in Seattle. We are attempting to make history in this election and we have already created a healthy and rigorus debate about the way forward for public education.
Time is running out to support this effort. On-line voting in the SEA union election begins Sunday, 4/27/14 at 12:01am and ends on Wednesday, 5/07/14, at 11:59pm. Please consider supporting our slate with your financial contribution and help us reclaim public education. Below is an appeal from the RESPECT campaign team with more details.
Please consider donating to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign to help make our vision of social justice unionism a reality. I can’t thank you enough for your support.
Elections for leadership of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) are coming right up and ballots will be cast at the end of April. On behalf of Social Equality Educators (SEE) and the many brothers and sisters working with us on the RESPECT campaign toward the common goal of strengthening our union, we are campaigning to ask you to make a financial contribution to support the campaign . We have assembled a remarkable group of educators on the SEE “RESPECT” ticket –award-winners and National Board Certified Teachers, experienced educators and those newer to the profession – to run for union office. We have over a dozen candidates, including Jesse Hagopian for SEA president, Marian Wagner for SEA Vice President, and Dan Troccoli for SEA Treasurer.
Together, we are confident we can achieve the contract educators deserve, the schools our students deserve, and the city our families deserve. Our record of supporting the MAP test boycott showed we could unite students, parents, and educators in a common struggle to defend–and transform–public education.
We have already been endorsed by Dr. John Carlos, 1968 Olympic medalist, medal stand protester, Gerald Hankerson, President of the King County/Seattle NAACP, Nick Licata, Seattle City Council Member, Dr. Wayne Au, Editor at Rethinking Schools and Professor at University of Washington Bothell, and Robert Wood, Professor President of the UW American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Bob George, National Director, Save Our Schools, Dave Zirin,sports editor The Nation Magazine, Dora Taylor, President of Parents Across America, Tim Harris, Founder and Director of Real Change newspaper, and many others!
The Respect slate of candidates stands for:
- A union that will fight for a strong contract. When we ask for less than what is required to do our jobs well, we cannot serve our students effectively, or be true to the passion that brings us into the classroom.
- A union that will demand full funding of education. This will only happen if we insist lawmakers adhere to the law.
- A union that will stand for fair and sustainable teacher evaluation. Evaluation should empower us to continually improve our professional practice and care for our students—it should not simply serve as a “gotcha” tool for administrators.
- A union that protects our right to teach culturally relevant curriculum and works to replace disproportionate disciplinary procedures with restorative justice. Seattle’s students deserve a holistic education that fosters critical thinking and civic engagement.
- We need a union that brings families and community members into the schools as partners and collaborators.
- A union that empowers the union membership to be an active voice.
- A union that keeps us updated with accurate information and invites us to take an active role in a truly member-driven association.
- A union that will join the growing national movement to fight for fair and meaningful student assessments, including opportunities to pilot performance-based alternatives to high-stakes testing.
To endorse the SEE Respect union campaign visit http://socialequalityeducators.org/endorse-the-campaign/ .
On the one-year anniversary the historic MAP test boycott, teachers launch campaign in the upcoming Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election.
Today, I am excited to announce that I am entering the election to run for president of my union, the Seattle Education Association. It is truly an honor to have been nominated to run for president on the Social Equality Educator’s “Respect” slate of candidates–an unparalleled team of educators in Seattle, running for officer and executive board positions, who are dedicated to achieving the schools Seattle’s children deserve. If you live in the Seattle area, please consider attending our MAP test boycott anniversary celebration and campaign kick off event on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:30 p.m., at the Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry St, Seattle). You can RSVP at: https://www.facebook.com/events/584713934950158/
We would be grateful for your support of our campaign by making a secure donation on the Social Equality Educator’s Pay Pal Account located on the side bar of our website. With your help we can win this election and just education system!
Please read the announcement for our campaign:
J A N U A R Y 21, 2 0 1 4
On the one-year anniversary the historic MAP test boycott,
teachers launch campaign in the upcoming
Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election.
Social Equality Educators (SEE) will introduce its “Respect” slate of candidates and education platform for the upcoming SEA union election at a January 30th Garfield Community Center forum.
The SEE Respect candidates for office will include a coalition of MAP boycott leaders, members of current SEA Board of Directors, award-winning teachers, teachers new to the profession, and veteran educators, including:
- Jesse Hagopian, “Secondary Teacher of the Year,” Garfield High School, leader in MAP boycott—For SEA President
- Marian Wagner, National Board Certified Teacher, Salmon Bay K-8,
current member of SEA Board of Directors—For SEA Vice President
- Dan Troccoli, current Vice President of the SEA Substitute Association, founding member of SEE—For SEA Treasurer
- And a slate of other candidates for the SEA Board of Directors
What: MAP Boycott Celebration/SEE Respect union candidates announcement
When: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry St, Seattle)
For more information:
“We have a bold vision for educating Seattle’s children,” said Jesse Hagopian, teacher and Black Student Union advisor at Garfield High School, and SEE’s “Respect” candidate for president in the upcoming Seattle Education Association election. “This month marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by my colleagues at Garfield that they would defend students by refusing to administer the deeply flawed MAP test. That movement galvanized parents, students, and education advocates across the city and around the nation. Today, educators throughout Seattle—many of whom were inspired by our stand for authentic assessment—are organizing to bring this movement for an equitable, high-quality education into our union election.”
In January of 2013, teachers at Garfield High School began the “MAP test boycott,” a movement that was supported by the student body government and the PTSA. The boycott then spread to several other schools in Seattle, including Orca K-8, Chief Sealth International High School, Ballard High School, Center School, and Thornton Creek Elementary—while solidarity with the boycott spread around Seattle, the nation, and then around the world. The MAP test boycott by Seattle’s educators has been widely credited with having played transformative role in the debate around standardized testing in the U.S.—as was recently recognized in national media, including The Nation, Alternet, ColorLines magazine, and The Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet.”
“It was an extremely difficult decision to run for Vice President of the SEA because I don’t want to leave the classroom. I love the challenge of improving our world through teaching the next generation, but the education of our youth is not being supported systematically,” said Marian Wagner, 5th grade teacher at Salmon Bay K-8. “I can’t ignore the thunderous cry of phenomenal educators who are not being heard. I am agreeing to step in and run on their behalf.”
The Social Equality Educators will host an award ceremony on January 30th to recognize the leadership and courage of teachers participating in the boycott. Teachers and prominent community leaders fighting for social justice will also speak briefly, followed by the announcement of SEE’s Respect slate of candidates.
“The Respect slate of candidates is made up of teachers who support valid, reliable assessment, responsible evaluation, and full funding for the education of Seattle’s students,” said Dan Troccoli, the current Vice President of the SEA Substitute Association. Educators will elaborate on the Respect platform at the event.
“As a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools and a SEA union representative for many years, I have never been so excited about an election before because of SEE’s ‘Respect’ slate of candidates,” said Roberta Lindeman, a teacher at Chief Sealth High School. “I’m confident that these educators will best represent Seattle’s students and educators, will fight for student and teacher assessment based on best practices, and will bring a voice of reason to education reform.”
Join us as we celebrate this important victory and launch the next
campaign for education justice in Seattle!
# # #
The Nation magazine names Seattle Eduction Association “Most Valuable Union” and credits Social Equality Educators for support of MAP test boycott
The Nation magazine released its “Progressive Honor Roll of 2013” where it names “heroes both for their accomplishments of the past year and their determination to do even more in 2014”–and they made some great picks!
Most valuable book went to Diane Ravitich for here masterpiece of truth-telling, Reign of Error. “Most Valuable Musical Partnership” went to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello for their relentless rocking for justice–including dedicating the song “American Skin (41 Shots)” to Trayvon Martin at their live shows. The Stranger received a well deserved “Most Valuable Newspaper” award for their support of Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative candidate who defeated a corporate Democrat to win a seat on the Seattle City Council!
I am proud to say that The Nation picked the Seattle Education Association as “Most Valuable Union”, citing the importance of the MAP test boycott! As well, the organization I helped found, the Social Equality Educators (SEE), received recognition for the critical role we played in helping to spread the MAP test boycott to schools around Seattle, which ultimately helped ignite a national movement in opposition to high-stakes standardized testing. And of course, it was the courageous actions of the teachers at Garfield High School–especially the math, reading, and language arts teachers–who launched the whole effort.
This great struggle of the MAP test boycott that erupted in January of 2013 has forever changed my life and I want to personally thank the team of close collaborators who helped organize the day-to-day efforts of the boycott. Mallory Clarke, Jessica Griffin, Kit McCormick, Kris McBride: your courage has changed the world.
You can sign up to follow the Social Equality Educators on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Social-Equality-Educators/169703146420873
And you can follow developments in the MAP test boycott at: http://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/SolidarityWithGarfieldHighSchoolTestingBoycott
Read those websites, then start your own revolution.
Must Watch Video: Support the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers in a historic contract battle against standardized testing and in defense of the public schools
Must watch video about the Saint Paul Teacher’s struggle to defend public Education–Please send out far and wide!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrAXRdoDsCI
Petition in support of Saint Paul Teachers: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/st-paul-public-schools
The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is in one of the most important struggles to defend public education and have taken one of the boldest stances against standardized testing in the country. While the state mandates that students take the MCA standardized test, the SPFT—with the support of their many parent and community allies—know that it is a waste of time and resources and are attempting to bargain it out of their contract.
Beyond reducing standardized testing, SPFT’s contract proposal advocates for attracting and retaining teachers of color, education for the whole child, family teacher partnerships, smaller class sizes, culturally relevant education, high quality professional development, and preschool for all.
Yet on September 19, management at the St. Paul Public Schools walked out of negotiations and asked the state mediator to close negotiations to the public so parents and other members of the community couldn’t hear what we were talking about.
The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, have worked hard over the last year to partner with parents, students and community members to identify the top priorities to deliver the schools St. Paul children deserve. Combined with research, they turned these priorities into an amazing report, “The Schools Saint Paul Students deserve”, which should serve as a model for educators around the nation. That proposals can be seen at: http://www.spft.org/
Over the last few weeks, SPFT members have been having conversations and collecting signatures from over a thousand community members on this petition. Please join those that have already pledged their support by signing today!
Their struggle is ours!