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Teachers Rally In Red Against Legislature

It was a sea of red – red shirts and protest signs- at busy intersections and in Riverfront Park Wednesday. Teachers from Spokane and East Valley school districts spent their one-day walkout protesting against the legislature for not fulfilling school funding needs.

Among the speakers at the rally, LesleeMcLachlan of East Valley’s association shared a problem she sees with education funding.

McLachlan: “What used to be a middle class career is no longer true. For so many of my colleagues, misguided policy has taken the joy out of teaching.”

And one student spoke about what takes the joy out of her learning. Ellie Wait is a high school senior.

Wait: “I have taken more standardized tests, filled out more bubble sheets, read more prompts, and taken more tests than my parents, or their parents, or their parents-parents. I have taken WASLs, MSPs, EOCs, I could go on and on, and those tests take away from our learning time.”

Wednesday, the state House passed a bill to end science tests as a high school graduation requirement, but it still needs approval from the Senate. The heart of the rally was about teacher salaries and other school funding. Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said he was a knucklehead in school, but had influential teachers.

Stuckart: “I ask the Senate republicans to do that same reflection. I want to know if their teaching heroes would be proud of their effort this session.”

The legislature is in contempt of court for not fully funding public schools, leading to more than 50 school district walkouts, including this one. The legislature’s overtime session expires Thursday, so the governor called a second special session to begin this Friday, to negotiate a state budget.

Donning red for the rally, parent and substitute teacher Josh Reynolds said the protest has been educational for his two kids.

Reynolds: “I mean we voted for smaller class sizes, we voted for an increase in pay. I mean, to be a layman, we passed these laws, so shouldn’t they fund them?”

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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