Recess, Testing Are Among Top Issues For Seattle Teachers' Contract Proposal | KUOW News and Information

Recess, Testing Are Among Top Issues For Seattle Teachers' Contract Proposal

Aug 25, 2015

The Seattle teachers’ union is clashing with the district over what should be on their new contract.

KUOW’s Ann Dornfeld talked with teachers at a union meeting at Benaroya Hall last night. She says along with the items you always see, like pay, this time there are new issues on the table.


Kendra Hoerst teaches language arts and social studies at Whitman Middle School. 

“I think we spent an entire month wrapped up in testing last year, and that’s one-tenth of the time I have my students total over the year. More than that!”

The union is calling for limits to the number of standardized tests the district requires – and for teachers to be involved in test selection.

That’s a new proposal this year. So is requiring at least 45 minutes of recess for elementary students. Right now, kids at some schools get as little as 15 minutes a day.

(Editor's note: Ann Dornfeld’s reporting how much recess kids get based on their school informed the union’s contract proposal. Read her series, No Time For Play.)

The district isn’t giving interviews about the bargaining process.

But in a letter posted on the Seattle Schools website, Superintendent Larry Nyland wrote that the district wants to lengthen the school day by 30 minutes to meet higher learning standards.

But the union says there wouldn't be a commensurate pay increase.

“We have had very, very meager raises in the past six, seven years, and Seattle’s getting more and more expensive every single day.”

Andy Russell teaches 4th grade math and science at Dunlap International School.

This year, he’s also on the union bargaining team.

Russell says the district has rejected a lot of the union’s proposals - like seven percent annual raises for three years.

The district has offered one-third that amount. Teachers’ current contract expires next Monday. They say it’s too early to predict a strike – but nothing’s off the table.