Vancouver teachers won’t join a one-day walkout planned for Wednesday, the Vancouver Education Association announced Friday. Evergreen, Camas, Washougal and Hockinson teachers are planning to picket that day to pressure legislators for more education funding and smaller class sizes, as ordered by courts and approved by voters.
More than two-thirds of Vancouver teachers voted to walk out, but the results still fell 12 percentage points short of a required 80 percent supermajority, said Rick Wilson, the association’s director.
“We set the high bar of 80 percent before we would go out. We wanted to make sure that we had overwhelming support,” he explained.
“It was a huge turnout,” Wilson added, with 1,131 of the union’s 1,389 members casting ballots. “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.
The decision means classes will still be in session Wednesday and extracurricular activities, including sports, will continue. Even so, Vancouver’s teachers union stands by the other teachers unions’ 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.”
Both the union and the school district support the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which orders the Legislature to fully fund 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. “(We’ll do) 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 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. They won’t have precise locations until Monday when they can square things away with the Vancouver police.
Hockinson teachers have voted to join the one-day walkout.
In districts where the teachers walk out, the first day of summer vacation will be postponed one day to make up for the missed class time.