10.01.2008 0

Bellevue teachers belong in the classroom

  • On: 10/22/2008 13:56:08
  • In: Big Labor
  • ALG Editor’s Note: One of the ongoing detriments to public confidence in government is the damaging role that public employee unions often play through demanding unreasonable pay raises and benefits even in harsh economic times. And in the case of Bellevue School District, one union is even willing to strike in violation of the law, as noted by the following featured editorial:

    Bellevue teachers belong in the classroom

    Bellevue teachers should accept the district’s latest offer and return to the classroom.

    The Bellevue School District’s sweetened offer to striking teachers ought to be met with teachers’ acceptance and prompt return to the classroom.

    If not, the Bellevue School Board ought to move this issue to the courts, where facts will trump heated rhetoric.

    The teachers strike is entering its second week and public patience with teachers who are among the highest paid in their profession is wearing thin. Next to go will be the voter goodwill that readily approves every school levy and bond request.

    After concerns over the district’s use of a standardized curriculum were worked out, the union turned to money as the primary cause of their discontent. Bellevue is offering teachers an 8.1-percent raise over three years. The union has stepped back from its original demand of a 14-percent pay hike, but remains deaf to recessionary forecasts and rising school expenses, particularly fuel.

    Starting teachers in Bellevue already are the second-highest-paid in the state. They have a right to bargain for more money; they do not have a legal right to strike. Attorney General Rob McKenna has been clear on the illegality of public-employee strikes. Gov. Christine Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson have been disappointingly quiet on the issue.

    Time for the School Board to act. Bellevue teachers reside in a sweet spot. The 16,000-student district is a fixture on News-week’s annual top high-school rankings list. Technology, multiple training opportunities and parents vying to volunteer in the schools make Bellevue stand out among larger school districts.

    Inertia in teaching is the biggest challenge left in education reform. Teachers who should embrace change are striking to prevent it.

    Both sides say they are getting closer. But closer is not in the classroom. Academic rigor and consistency are important.

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