After days of intense debate, the Seattle Education Association has finally reached an agreement with the Seattle School District in regards to educators’ contracts. Early Tuesday morning, a glimmer of hope sparked in the hearts of the protesting Seattle Schools teachers and the thousands of families affected by the strike. Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard announced in a fatigued, yet optimistic voice that SPS and SEA had reached a tentative agreement, the result of a bargaining “marathon” that lasted overnight, starting on Monday and not coming to a close until 6:50 am the next day. The union instructed the striking teachers to continue picketing until the contract has been approved by the union’s executive board and representative assembly. Tuesday afternoon, Roosevelt teachers Drea Jermann and Janine Magidman expressed confidence in the SEA’s ability to reach an agreement promptly should the tentative agreement fall through, despite being unaware of the contract’s details. “If one particular group in the bargain is not treated fairly, I think there is enough unity to keep us out [of school],” stated Magidman. However, she quickly followed with an optimistic forecast for the strike: “I can’t imagine it going on much longer. I don’t think the community would stand for it.” She elaborated, “There is so much community support, local government support, the city council.” This is the first time that Seattle teachers have gone on strike in more 30 years; Jermann says that because of this, it is important that a good deal is made. With so many different parties involved, it will be difficult to reach an agreement that leaves everybody happy says Jermann. “It’s going to vary upon the group, the teachers background, or the other players involved,” she explained, “So the things that really matter to me might not be the things that really matter to the next person over.”
Just before 6 pm Tuesday evening, the Seattle Education Association posted the Representative Assembly’s decision on facebook. “The SEA Representative Assembly has voted to end the Seattle Public Schools strike & to recommend ratification of the tentative contract agreement.” They followed the announcement noting that Wednesday the 16th would be a workday for all district employees. School is expected to begin on Thursday, eight days after the scheduled first day of school. The strike is only suspended and its continuation will depend on a follow-up vote this Sunday, the 20th.
Featured Photo: Regardless of the agreement, SEA members and their supporters marched through Pioneer Square to promote their cause. Photo by Karinna Gerhardt