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Teachers consider statewide strike

"South Whidbey teachers may have to decide whether they will go on strike some time this spring.No, they don't have any serious disagreements with the local administration or the public. But the Washington Education Association warned Thursday of a possible statewide strike. As part of the strike process, the local chapter, the South Whidbey Education Association, would have to decide whether to join in.In a news release, the WEA complained of grassroots frustration over the Legislature's lack of leadership on public education. The teachers' union has complained loudly that the voters' intent last November is not being implemented in Olympia. Last election, a large majority of voters supported initiatives to reduce class sizes and pay teachers more. The legislature is refusing to fully fund either of them, stated the WEA.Scott Mauk, president of the South Whidbey Education Association, expressed the same concerns at last month's school board meeting. But teachers have not yet formally talked about a strike, he said Thursday.The strike process involves all the (union) locals, Mauk said. Everybody would have to be on the bus. As for the South Whidbey union, he said, We'd probably consider it.Mauk said he and Dr. Martin Laster, superintendent of South Whidbey schools, have already been talking about the issue. We've talked a lot about how to avoid this, Mauk said. I'd like to avert it, personally.But Mauk said teachers may not have much choice if the Legislature refuses to spend more on education. Summing up the union position, he said, If this is what you're saying then we're willing to go all the way. At some point you've got to take a stand.State. Rep. Barry Sehlin, R-Oak Harbor, is co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He said Friday that there just isn't any more money for education.I'm at a loss how going on strike will find more money, Sehlin said. If they have some magic math to create more money by going on strike, then go for it.Sehlin put the chance of a tax increase to further fund education at virtually zero. It's a very unlikely scenario, he said. "

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