• 6,000 teachers, support staff march in one-day strike


    SEATTLE - Thousands of teachers marched through downtown Seattle on Tuesday as part of a one-day strike to encourage Washington lawmakers to put more money into the state education budget.

    Quick facts:

    • Teachers across state protesting a lack of education funding
    • More than 72,000 kids out of class
    • Rally gathered at Seattle Center for the start of the march.
    • Conversation about legality of teacher walkouts continues

    Teachers from Seattle, Mercer Island and Issaquah walked off the job for the march from Seattle Center to Westlake Park. Click here for photos.

    A spokesman for the Washington Education Association says more than 6,000 teachers and support staff participated in the one-day strike. Some of them came to downtown Seattle for the march.

    With these three districts walking out,  it's more than 72,000 kids affected, and more than 45-hundred teachers. Classes were canceled for students, and Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering free activities for Seattle Public Schools students.

    They are among the thousands of teachers across the state protesting a lack of education funding and class sizes. The state Legislature is still meeting in a special session. 

    Some lawmakers don't think teachers should get paid for the makeup day to strike, and teachers say this battle for education money is far from over.

    <br>Is the walkout legal? 

    As teachers strike on Tuesday, the conversation about the legality of teacher walkouts continues.

    Public sector employees are not granted the right to strike, according to Washington state law. Union leaders have argued this provision doesn’t apply to public school teachers.

    However, while strikes are illegal under state law, the law does not specify any penalties.

    “Judges can impose penalties, but that only occurs after an injunction is sought and issued to require the employees to return to work, and then the employees defy that injunction,” former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna wrote earlier this year. "Which means the unions know that they can get away with a one-day strike, with no price to pay.”

    In theory, the district could punish those participating in Tuesday's walk out, but KIRO 7 has not heard of any intentions of the district pursuing that.   

    <br>Funding and class-size

    Republicans and Democrats have proposed state budgets that would put between $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion into education.

    But teachers say that's not enough satisfy a State Supreme Court order to reduce class sizes.

    "It's simply outrageous that the state legslature has given themselves an 11 percent raise while offering up a measly 1.8 percent for teachers," Garfield High School history teacher Jesse Hagopian said.

    State legislators have until May 28 to figure out the budget. If not, a more rare second special session may have to be called.

    Teachers at the march said they were hoping parents would call their lawmakers to tell them to find the money to pay for smaller classes, teacher raises and other public school needs.

    Leslie Sager, a first-grade teacher at Roxhill Elementary in South Seattle, where nearly 80 percent of the children quality for free- or reduced-priced lunch, said she was participating in the march to raise awareness about inequity in Washington public schools. Sager said the parents at her school are supportive of the teacher's efforts, even though the one-day strike caused childcare issues for many parents across Washington's largest school district.

    "They are fighting for justice for their kids too," she said.

    Camille Schurman and Casey Middleton, two fourth-graders from Salmon Bay K-8 School in North Seattle, where their parents are teachers, said they came to the march to support the teachers and protest lawmakers who give themselves raises but don't want to give teachers a raise too.

    "Teachers are going on strike to get more funding for education," Camille said.

    "I hope it works," Casey added.

    Gov. Jay Inslee said on Tuesday in Olympia that he understood why teachers were frustrated with lawmakers.

    "Obviously, we'd like teachers in the classroom, but I really understand deeply the profound frustration of teachers who have been denied any COLA for years now," the governor said. "The Legislature right now is going to get an 11 percent COLA while the teachers are having to dig in their own pockets to buy colored pencils for their kids."

    <div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1000000010019752/"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1000000010019752/"><a href="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1000000010019752/"></a><p>HAPPENING NOW: A massive crowd of teachers take to the streets of #Seattle in a #OneDayWalkout. &gt;&gt; kiro.tv/SeattleTeacherRallyThousands of people are protesting a lack of education funding.</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/KIRO7Seattle">KIRO 7 Eyewitness News</a> on Tuesday, May 19, 2015</blockquote></div></div>

    <br>Here was the schedule and route:

    Teachers picketed near high schools at 8 a.m. Tuesday and then gathered at Seattle Center for the start of the march.

    • Staging for 70 buses starts at 10 a.m. on Mercer Street from Warren Avenue N to 4th Avenue N, 4th Avenue N from Mercer Street to Republican Street, 5th Avenue N from Republican Street to Broad Street and 1st Avenue N from John Street to Republican Street
    • The march started at 11 a.m. at the Seattle Center Broad Street Green Sculpture Garden and Broad and John streets
    • The route started westbound on Broad Street
    • Then southbound on 2nd Avenue
    •  Eastbound on Pike Street
    • Northbound on 4th Avenue to Westlake Park

    The rally at Westlake Park started around noon. After the rally, the returned route goes northbound on 4th Avenue, eastbound on Broad Street to the Seattle Center.  

    Seattle police escortied the march.

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