Several school districts in Southwest Washington have canceled school Wednesday because teachers are planning to strike.
More than 2,000 teachers in Washougal, Camas and the Evergreen school districts aren’t scheduled to report to work. Instead, teachers plan to picket intersections and attended a rally in downtown Vancouver.
The teachers say they’re protesting the lack of progress made by state lawmakers in Olympia to fully fund education.
In fact, the Legislature is in contempt of a court order from the Washington State Supreme Court over education funding.
Currently, the Legislature is several weeks into a special session, in part to address spending on schools. But budget negotiations are reportedly going slow.
The one-day strikes began last month. So far, teachers in more than 40 districts around Washington have voted to strike.
Rob Lutz, head of the teachers union at the Evergreen School District, said lawmakers aren’t listening.
“We’ve tired all these options we possibly can,” he said. “We tried going through the people by way of initiative. We’ve tried going through the courts. And frankly many legislators are saying, ‘What’s the Supreme Court going to do? Throw me in jail?’
“So, this is the next step: trying to get the constituents to engage with the Legislature over this issue,” Lutz said.
For many parents, the strike means finding childcare or taking off work.
Eric Chapman, who has two kids in the Evergreen School District, said he’s planning to take work off Wednesday to be with his kids.
“We’re just going to hang out at the house or go out to lunch,” he said.
Chapman said he supports the teachers’ strike.
“It’s important for their voice to be heard,” he said. “If they feel the Legislature is not providing adequate funding for schools, I think it’s important for them to take a day and do this.”
School district officials announced they’ll make up the day of instruction at the end of the year.
Teachers in Seattle, Pasco and Richland are scheduled to strike later this month.
Teachers in Vancouver public schools did not reach the 80 percent supermajority to protest during the school day Wednesday, but say they’re planning to protest after school.