We stand in solidarity with striking teachers in the Oakland Education Association as they fight against privatization, school closures, and the attacks on public education!
Across the country, and here in Seattle, teachers are spearheading the fight to defend public schools. Last year, in the face of a decades-long assault on public education, tens of thousands of teachers took historic action, demonstrating that strikes work! With West Virginia teachers leading the way, more workers went on strike or organized work stoppages than in any year since 1986, with teachers leading the largest struggles.
We should be clear, the crisis in funding for public education is entirely manufactured by the billionaire-backed corporate “reform” agenda: underfunding and closing public schools, privatization through non-union charter schools, and weakening teachers unions. Here in Washington state, the Gates Foundation and billionaires like Jeff Bezos have poured in millions — first to ram through their privatization agenda with charter school legislation (which squeaked by at 50.69%-49.31%, after having been roundly rejected by voters 3 times at the ballot), then to prop up non-union charter schools in spite of them being ruled unconstitutional in state court.
In the state that's home to the two richest people in the world, there is no reason we should not have high-quality, free public education for all and high living standards for educators and staff. But instead of taxing big business and the rich to fund our schools, the corporate politicians in Olympia have granted Boeing an eye-popping $12 BILLION in subsidies, including $8.7 billion in 2013 — the biggest corporate handout in U.S. history.
Unfortunately, a $40 million deficit is currently projected for our Seattle public schools, even with the recently passed education levies. At the same time, our educators and staff are underpaid and increasingly being priced out of Seattle.
We need to tax corporations and the rich to fully fund high-quality public education; stop the privatization of education and the corporate “reform” agenda; dramatically reduce class sizes; establish tuition-free college education for all; support teachers and students campaigning against high-stakes testing and racial disparities; expand anti-bullying efforts; fund free breakfast and lunch programs; and fight for higher wages for our educators so they can afford to live in the neighborhoods where they teach.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant and our grassroots campaign will stand with the SEA educators’ union in their fight this year for a decent contract and quality education for all. As a rank-and-file member herself of the local teachers union, AFT 1789, Kshama proudly walked the picket line with the SEA during their strike in 2015.
We need more elected representatives like Kshama who will use their positions to stand unwaveringly with workers and the labor movement. During the 2015 strike, in addition to walking the picket line, Kshama used every avenue she could to support the courageous members of SEA, including holding a community rally in City Council chambers to build support for the strike, leading the way on a landmark City Council resolution in solidarity with the striking educators, and donating twice from her Solidarity Fund.