Editorial: Tacoma teachers’ strike hurts students, sets terrible example

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Teachers in Tacoma, Wash., have gone on strike over pay, class sizes and the handling of job transfers, causing 28,700 students to be unable to attend school since Sept. 12.

Unfortunately, teachers believed they were forced into a strike because of the district’s inability to form a contract the teachers would agree with, causing them to work without a contract from the start of the 2010-2011 school year.

Although teachers should be granted an agreeable contract with the school district, deciding to go on strike to achieve it is not the best way to fix the problem. In fact, being on strike is an illegal action in the state of Washington.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff has found the Tacoma teachers to be in violation of the state’s no-strike order and has ordered them to return to work immediately. Only 90 teachers out of the 1,900 on strike returned to work on Tuesday.

Obviously, they see their concerns as more important than students’ education.

With this decision, the entire Tacoma Public Schools must figure out ways to get students back in classes. No teachers means no one to educate students.

Teachers are role models , and the act of quitting to get what they want is not the best lesson to give students.

Yes, fighting for what you believe in is a good lesson to teach children, but the manner in which the Tacoma teachers are representing themselves teaches students that simply quitting is a viable solution.

Being on strike not only hurts the students, but also the parents. Most parents are at work throughout the day or have other things they need to do; if their children are at home rather than at school, parents must find a way to make sure they are taken care of, or transfer their children to different districts or even enroll them in online classes.

In a Tacoma newspaper, The News Tribune, Tacoma students said they wish they could get back to school soon.

“I would love to stay at Stadium [High School] and graduate, but I’m missing too much school right now,” 17-year-old junior Corey Joyner said. “It doesn’t make me feel good at all.”

Transferring students to other high schools is a difficult task for many families because many high schools in other school districts are full and cannot accept any more students. This forces parents to either enroll their children in a private school, such as, South Sound Christian School, where, according to The News Tribune article, they would pay anywhere from $2,926 to $7,410 per child.

The third option is to enroll their students in online classes, but the problem with these is that some of the classes are hybrids taught with teachers from the Tacoma Public Schools who are on strike.

For younger students, parents have struggled to find daycare options, as local daycares are rapidly filling with many kids who would normally be in school. Despite the best efforts from local nonprofit organizations, not every parent can find free childcare for his or her children.

Tacoma public school teachers ought to go back to work so that students can go back to school. They can keep trying to resolve problems with their contracts when they are not in class.

Causing students to miss classes for over a week hinders their education and burdens their families, and overall, it hurts the school district more than helps it.