Tacoma teachers skip strike in favor of June 3 ‘grade-in’ event

Tacoma teachers will skip the rolling walkouts that have swept more than 60 school districts around the state this spring including the two other largest school districts in the state, Seattle and Spokane.

Instead, they plan an after-school “grade-in” event next week on Wednesday, the same day that Puyallup teachers have announced a one-day strike.

Members of the Tacoma Education Association met Tuesday to decide whether to stage a similar one-day walkout to protest state lawmakers’ inaction on teacher pay, smaller class-size funding and enhanced education spending required by the state Supreme Court.

TEA President Angel Morton said her members are upset about the hold-up in Olympia, where a special session of the Legislature focused on education funding has not yet produced an announced agreement.

But she said that because it’s so close to the end of the school year, TEA members decided to forgo a strike. Instead, Tacoma teachers will take their work to the public square on June 3 to demonstrate how much they do after the school bell rings each afternoon. They will work from 4-6 p.m. that day at Tollefson Plaza in downtown Tacoma.

The Tacoma grade-in had been scheduled for Tuesday, but the general membership meeting was held instead.

TEA members on Tuesday considered, but then rejected, several alternative proposals, including a half-day walkout and picketing at the upcoming U.S. Open golf tournament, which gets underway in University Place in mid-June.

Morton said teachers will be watching to see what happens with education funding.

“There is statewide interest in responding in the fall if the Legislature ends without a decent budget for education,” she said.

In addition to Puyallup, other districts in Pierce County that have joined the rolling walkouts include Franklin Pierce, University Place, Steilacoom and Peninsula.