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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Kent teachers’ strike: Would raising pay really reduce class sizes?

Put teachers back in the classroom

What frustrates the general public about teacher strikes is that the solution to teachers’ concerns is always the same: more money toward salaries or to hire more employees. The mantra is always the same, too: Strikes are “for the kids” while, not surprisingly, the solutions always seem to benefit the adults.

Kent teachers say they are striking [“Kent teachers vote to strike as talks go on,” page one, Aug. 27] for lower class sizes, and their solution is to hire more classroom teachers.

Here are the facts: The Kent School District Web site says the district serves 26,833 students and employs 3,292 people, of which 1,745 are teachers.

This is 15.4 students per teacher. If class sizes are too big, then a solution lies with the staffing ratio of non-classroom teachers.

It appears the actual average districtwide class size is about 25 students, which would fill about 1,073 classrooms, yet the Kent District employs 1,742 teachers. Simple math says there are 669 teachers who are not “in the classroom,” and 1,550 other nonteaching positions.

Replacing non-classroom teachers with in-classroom teachers should not cost more money, and if done well, could actually save money.

I am confident the teachers will support this, since it is for the benefit of the kids.

— Daniel Hillman, Tacoma

Reduce class sizes by bringing in fresh faces

How would raising the salary of the teachers in the Kent School District reduce class sizes?

I suggest we take away say 5 percent to 10 percent of teachers’ salaries to hire new teachers to help downsize the numbers in the classrooms. They should be happy to eliminate the stress of so many children they are responsible for. How, I repeat how, can the classroom numbers be reined in by paying the existing teachers more?

Is the state ultimately responsible? We all (should) know the answer is yes. Even at the cost of loosing some overpriced art projects, we all have to fund in this state. Throwing more money at teachers will not diminish class sizes. Hire teachers, put people to work and replace the “deadwood” who have lost the desire to make a difference.

Please, hire new talent, and people who are interested in making a difference and glad to use their education. Now is the time to rid our educational system of the teachers who have lost their drive, as we cannot afford their expense or the negative impact they have on the children. We all know the ones we had in our time.

The teachers union should be at the front of this movement, if only for its members’ jobs. The union is well aware of problematic teachers.

If the union chooses to defend them, it will become one of the untold unions in this country that was all about itself, not in touch with the reason it was even formed.

— Richard Eirich, Kirkland

Teacher on strike? That will be $100 a day

I think it is about time to fine teachers so they suffer a monetary loss while striking — something like $100 a day. Bargaining employees in other sectors suffer financially, and it takes real backbone to strike, but if they didn’t lose anything there would be strikes all the time.

It takes a strong person to strike. Teachers can do it because they lose nothing and just create hardship on students and parents by late start and ending of the school year.

Financial loss is the only answer to stop them from going on strike so easily.

— Ed Williams, Renton

Teachers look like fools striking during recession

Its amazing to me in a time when all workers are being asked to do a little more, stay a little late and perform a little better during a recession, the teachers in Kent School District and other districts go on strike.

Teachers have every summer off, every weekend and every holiday. In Kent, they have been asked to meet in the morning and afternoon; I have asked my management team to do so as well this year to ensure every penny is accounted for, and we are all on the same page and performing well.

It’s amazing and a sad day for the unions again, when in the face of obvious hard times and struggles for everyone, they choose to stand up and make themselves and their members look foolish.

— Thomas Olson, Sumner

Comments | More in budget cuts, Education, Families, Labor, Recession, Teachers

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