Teachers, students protest state funding issues on South Whidbey

South Whidbey School District staff

South Whidbey School District educators protested the state’s lack of funding for public schools with a walk-out on Wednesday.

Teachers, parents, students, administrators, retired educators and one school board director, Rocco Gianni, rallied at 1 p.m. at Castle Park before heading to the corners of Maxwelton to picket.

Vice President of Washington Education Association (WEA) Steven Miller and a second WEA Fourth Corner representative were also present at the rally.

“We need smaller class sizes. We need to stop toxic testing. We need decent health care,” said Val Brown, spokesperson for the South Whidbey Education Association, to the protesters.

Speakers touched on subjects such as large class sizes, lack of cost of living adjustments for teachers, low wages, lack of funds for educational materials, the problem with standardized testing and the hours of unpaid work educators put in yearly.

Reganne Brown, a junior at South Whidbey High School and the school board’s student representative, gave a speech illustrating a student’s perspective on issues like the controversial Common Core State Standards test and large class sizes. Kate Daniel / The Record | The protestors picketed at the corners of Maxwelton following the rally at Castle Park.

Many educators nationwide have expressed opinions that the test sets unreasonable expectations for students, essentially setting them up for failure.

“This test was the most ridiculous test I’ve ever taken in my life,” Brown said of Common Core.

Although math isn’t her strong suit, Brown said, she consistently manages to earn “A”s and “B”s in class.

The Common Core test, however, threw Brown and fellow students off their usually academically adept game with material such as pre-calculus, a subject not taught in standard junior-level math curriculum.

It wasn’t “common core” at all, Brown said.

She added that the test took up three days of classes as well as several hours of study time.

Brown emphasized that South Whidbey School District teachers have had a positive impact, preparing her for post-graduate life “emotionally, socially and scholastically.”

“This program will turn our teachers into robots,” she concluded.

Rachel Kizer, a fourth-grade teacher at South Whidbey Elementary, spoke of the lack of appreciation and understanding legislators have for educators’ work.

“The Legislature doesn’t know there is no test in the world that can possibly measure your lifetimes of learning and what you all bring to the classroom every day,” Kizer said to the crowd.

“We are here to stand up for what’s good about education, to stand up for the kids we cherish like our own and we are here today to stand up for you,” Kizer said. “You, the educators who are a most unique and precious resource in a child’s education. Not a textbook, not a classroom, not a computer, but you.”