For the first time in decades, the Bellevue Education Association voted to go on strike in the fall 2008-2009 school year, pending a tentative contract agreement with the district.
The vote passed with 94 percent approval by union members attending a general meeting Tuesday night at Sammamish High School.
The union consists of more than 1,200 teachers and staff, more than 700 of which were present at the meeting.
During the meeting, Bellevue Education Association President Stephen Miller gave an overview of the district’s financial standings and the union’s current bargaining position.
According to Miller, over the last several months, the union has presented the district with several contract proposals, none of which have been met with a counter offer.
“Our goal is not to strike,” Miller emphasized. “Our goal is to convince the district to make a good offer in the area of compensation, fixing the problems with the Curriculum Web, respecting our professionalism in the classroom, Special Education and ESL case loads, and health-care issues.”
The district-mandated Curriculum Web is one of the teachers’ main concerns, an issue they are hoping to resolve prior to Sept. 2.
The Curriculum Web charts lesson plans and test taking, mandating what is taught in the classroom on a day-to-day basis.
Bellevue teachers say the program does not take into account the individual learning style and needs of each student.
The current agreement proposal presented by the union will expire Aug. 31, giving the district
approximately 11 weeks to make a counter bargaining offer. Miller noted, that by voting early, they have given the district ample warning, allowing more opportunity for both sides to reach a resolution.
“The district has lost sight of the primary priorities that lead to good student learning and education,” Miller said. “Teachers in the classroom are the number one determinate of how well students do in school, other then their parents. The best way to get good teachers in the classroom is to pay them well, give them good benefits, realistic case loads, class sizes that are reasonable, and to respect their professionalism in the classroom.”
Lindsay Larin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4602.