Dear HEA Members,
We know you are eager to hear plans about our Day of Action Walkout on May 21. HEA Picket Captains are meeting this afternoon, and will be receiving information to share with you during HEA building meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you don't know when your building meeting is scheduled, check with your HEA Building Rep. We will also be sending out an email with detailed information tomorrow, Tuesday, May 21, and additional reminders on Wednesday. Please keep in mind that planning events such as this requires juggling multiple logistics, and sending partial information would likely generate more questions than provide answers, so thanks for your patience as we work to provide you information as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In the meantime, many of you have asked whether and how to communicate with students and/or families about our Day of Action on May 21. Parents and others in our community support great schools and can be strong allies. You can help build support with them for the issues we care about by helping the community understand what's at stake and why we're taking this action. It is also important to respect personal/professional boundaries and follow the rules about political activity at school. Because our Day of Action is targeted at the Legislature, it is considered political action. School time, resources and equipment should not be used to communicate with families or students about our walkout, but you may do so on your own time, outside of school. Please read this document carefully, as it provides guidance as we prepare for Thursday's actions.
Why are we walking out?
HEA's Day of Action Walkout is a principled, non-violent protest in support of a value we hold deeply -- the promise afforded by universal public education to create individual opportunities for our students, and stronger communities for all. The state Legislature has repeatedly failed to provide adequate funding for public education. As a result, teachers and other educators are not being treated fairly, and students are not receiving the quality education they deserve. For example:
- We need less time spent on testing, and more time spent on teaching.
- We need smaller classes so we can help every single one of our students learn.
- We need professional pay and benefits so that we can feed our own families, pay our bills, and afford to stay in the career that we love.
- What do teachers want? We want kids in Highline to get a great education.
If you live in the community and have family/friends/neighbors who are parents of Highline students:
- Feel free to talk with them off school grounds on your own time, post on Facebook or other social media, and send personal emails about the walkout. Remind them that we've tried for years with letters and emails and rallies to convince lawmakers they need to comply with state constitutional mandates and court orders to adequately fund public education, but without success. Answer questions openly and honestly, but getting into a debate or disagreement is likely not productive.
- If you feel comfortable, encourage supporters to join us at our picketing sites (locations at http://bit.ly/HEAwalksites) or at our rally on May 21 at the Burien Town Center (intersection of 151st & 5th). Ask them to spread the word, too -- by explaining to their friends why these issues are important, either on social media, or in quick conversations in grocery store checkout lines, or in letters to the editor in local newspapers.
If this conversation comes up at school:
- For parents/families, it is sufficient to give a factual answer, such as: "Highline teachers voted to hold a walkout on May 21 to protest the lack of adequate state funding for public education." Refrain from engaging in any more detailed conversations about the walkout on work time, or via school computers. Do not hand out literature on school grounds, and do not use your classroom email lists to email parents -- even from your home computer. If parents ask where they can find out more information about the walkout, one option is to point them toward the HEA Facebook Page. If they want to know more about the issues, http://timeforwaschools.org/ is a website set up for community members to learn more about education funding and take action.
- For students who ask questions about the walkouts, take into account the developmental level of your students in your explanation, and stick to some version of the factual statement suggested above for parents. There may be some classes (e.g. secondary social studies) in which it would be appropriate to share more detail about the issues, but be cautious not to advocate for a particular position or point of view.
Thank you for all you are doing to prepare for our Day of Action on Thursday, and for everything you do for Highline students and families each and every day. Hopefully this information will help you help them to support our future and convince the legislature that IT'S TIME -- really, it's past time -- to FULLY FUND PUBLIC EDUCATION!