The Vancouver Education Association failed to muster enough support this week for Vancouver Public Schools to join a number of other local districts in a walkout.
In all, 1,131 of the union’s 1,389 members came out to vote between Wednesday and Friday on the proposed one-day walkout planned for Wednesday, May 13. More than two-thirds demanded a walkout, but still the union fell 12 percentage points short of meeting a self-imposed 80 percent supermajority needed to join the demonstration, said Rick Wilson, the association’s director.
“It was a huge turnout,” Wilson said. “We set the high bar of 80 percent before we would go out. We wanted to make sure that we had overwhelming support.”
The decision means classes and after-school activities will still be in session on Wednesday when teachers from Evergreen Public Schools, and the Camas, Washougal and Hockinson school districts take the day off to picket state legislators for more education funding and smaller class sizes. Even so, Vancouver’s teachers union stands by the other districts’ decision.
“We totally support the choices that the other districts have made,” Wilson said. “We’re all in this together in terms of wanting our children to be treated fairly by the Legislature.”
The union and the district support the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision mandating the Legislature to provide more money for basic education, he said. Instead of joining the walkout, union members will picket at high-visibility areas later in the day.
“On May 13, we’re lining up people after school to work corners and to do picketing,” Wilson said. “Some things at Vancouver Farmers Market on Saturday, May 16, in the free speech zone. We need to get the attention of the Legislature.”
Teachers are planning to hit high-traffic intersections from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Wednesday. They won’t have precise locations until Monday when they can square things away with the Vancouver Police.
Despite failing to gain enough support for the walkout, Wilson said he was pleased to see such a high turnout for the vote.
“To have 1,131 of our members reflect on this and look on this and vote on it, we are thrilled in the level of participation,” Wilson said.