Guest columnist Jami Lund castigates the school employees union for bargaining levy funds to increase Seattle teacher pay [“How the union trumped voters in the Seattle Schools budget,” Opinion, Jan 24].
He recommends that legislators prohibit local districts from using levy funds for salaries. At present, a first-year teacher in Seattle on the state salary schedule would receive a monthly paycheck of $2,837 before taxes and other deductions. Additional funds bargained by the union raise this to $3,626, again before deductions. That’s hardly a generous salary. We are told that to raise educational standards, we must attract our best and our brightest to the teaching profession.
Washington’s Supreme Court in the McCleary decision ruled that the Legislature has failed to adequately fund K-12 education. All districts struggle to stretch meager funds to cover needed services. Studies show that the most important factor in student success is the classroom teacher. To attract and retain good teachers, districts in high cost-of-living areas have been forced to use local levy funds to pay teachers a salary they can live on.
Rather than criticizing the union for pushing for a living wage, Lund would do better to point an accusing finger at the Legislature that has failed in its duty to supply funds to meet the needs of schools.
Edith Ruby, Seattle