In Washington State the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state was failing to amply fund public education. What most people do not know is that we all funded the McCleary case. For years, $1 of our paychecks combined with 90,000 other WEA members invested in the right to an amply-funded public education. We are the ones who brought billions more to public education after the Great Recession and salary is the last installment of that McCleary promise to us. McCleary was decided, the funds have been provided. Shame on the VPS superintendents for colluding to steal teachers salaries.

“Nothing could be more basic than adequate pay… the state needs to invest at least a billion dollars a year—above the inflationary adjustments—to bring salary funding in line with actual costs.”

Washington Supreme Court

Teachers have been sacrificing for decades, struggling in an affordable housing crisis, paying student loans and facing soaring healthcare costs. It’s time we acknowledge their hard work and sacrifice by supporting them in their struggle because it’s a struggle we all share in. The struggle of our teachers is one that affects all of us as workers, parents and community members. The way we win is through our unity.

The strike will not be easy and teachers will need the support of our communities. We need to continue to spread the word and truth about their strike and why it’s happening. When the teachers win, it will be a major victory for everything we stand for as workers and community members. Teachers are a vital part of our society and it’s time their salaries reflected that.

The Vancouver School District is ignoring the need to attract and keep good teachers and to compensate them fairly. Their lack of support shows disrespect for students and parents as well. But together, we will win not only fair wages for teachers, but unite our communities to champion our neighborhood schools. Let’s be part of this story with a hopeful message: when we unite, we win.