Forgotten but not gone

Cartoon by Mallery Perry

Staff Editorial

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Our educators not only marched for themselves this summer, they also marched for us. Their seven day strike and day-through-night bargaining with the district was, all-in-all, effective for teachers and students. But the contract agreed upon on Sept. 20 did not meet all the educators’ demands.

Nurses and counselors were irrevocably neglected.

Yes, educators made great strides in negotiations. Recess was guaranteed extension, policies to reduce over-testing were implemented, test scores no longer impact teacher evaluations and salaries were adjusted to cost of living and increased (though not to the original amount demanded). Additional staff was added to reduce workloads, race and equity teams were created at 30 schools within the district and teachers will be compensated for additional work.

But nurses and counselors didn’t receive their requests.

There is not one nurse on the Seattle Education Association Bargaining Team, yet they make up nearly two percent of Seattle Public Schools employees. Counselors are only represented by one member on the team. Yet their demands weren’t met, making us wonder: whose voices were most heard and respected?

Similar to our teachers, counselors and nurses have unmanageable workloads within their designated schools, ours consisting of 1,711 students. Our counselors must understand the limitations of each student and be prepared to write college recommendations for desiring seniors. Nurses, too, have entire schools to tend to daily — not to mention the nurses that rotate from school to school, leaving some schools with a nurse present few days out of the week.

But the vast majority of gains made within the contract only regarded teachers.

Nurses and counselors are district employees in their own right. They follow the same schedule and receive similar salaries. They serve the same student bodies and have the same supervisors. Though they’re the minority, their demands are equally valid.

We can all agree that teachers are an indispensable part of our lives as students. They demonstrated truly admirable effort and dedication to their cause.

Our teachers deserved everything they received in the new contract, and probably much more. They’d been neglected about their conditions for 30 years and finally took a stance. They opened themselves up to potential hostility and risked postponing school for us when they took to the streets to picket.

But was it really advisable to only fix one part of the problem? Aren’t we only forcing nurses and counselors into the same cycle?

The Union may not have another chance to make real change for another 30 years. And for the time being, counselors and nurses continue under extensive work loads and insufficient aid.

Next time, let’s do better.

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