Aschenaki Lulu Ansel Herz

Aschenaki Lulu
Bailey Gatzert Elementary School
Math specialist
Salary: $42 per hour

Why are you picketing today? [These interviews were conducted during midday.]

We're not striking. We're waiting for information right now from the Seattle Education Association. If they tell us the strike is over, then we'll go vote whether we agree with the tentative agreement or not. Other than that, I don't have much information.

Did you initially vote to go on strike?

Yeah, I did. It was unanimous.

Why did you vote yes?

It's for the evaluations. Students test scores are tied to [teacher] evaluations. That's one. The second part is the wage increase, and the third part is that we're not working for free—they added 20 minutes [to the school day without increasing pay].

How do you feel about how the district has handled the strike?

They ignored the SEA for a long time, until they saw that we were serious and we were going to fight. And then they started negotiating, what was that, last Tuesday? At the beginning, they disrespect us. They thought we are weak, but they saw the strength and unity and they came back.

What kind of feedback have you received?

They've been very supportive. A lot of parents came and brought us food, showed support, held the signs, walked around with us. Some kids came and asked, "When are we going to start?" I can see there's a big hardship on parents. Feeding them, finding childcare, stuff like that. The city said they have some spots for childcare, but they only have 800 spots for 53,000 students.

And do you think you'll vote "yes" or "no" on the tentative agreement that's been reached?

I don't know yet. I don't have enough information.

Anna West
Anna West Ansel Herz

Bailey Gatzert Elementary
Bilingual language specialist (in Vietnamese)
Salary: "In the $30,000 range"

What do you do at Bailey Gatzert?

My job over the years has changed. But basically, I enjoy supporting the teachers. And working closely with the teachers, I realize how amazing they are. Everybody has their own gift and talent. But the amount of dedication is always there, especially in a school like this. It's like working with heroes.

I think the school district, somehow, comes across as being not appreciative and somewhat disrespectful. There's all kinds of fallacious information out there that's not factual. There's a misleading innuendo on the part of the school district, making people think wrongly about the real picture of what we're fighting for.

We're talking about over-testing. We're talking about when you're raising a human, you take time in nurturing them. You don't keep assessing them and weighing them. That's how all the testing comes across. The teacher has to worry about all this testing that might be infringing on the evaluation of their ability. If you work in the schools with parents who are so stressed out over how to make a living—there's a high percentage of free and reduced lunch [students at this school], we have all kinds of problems here—if the teacher is being penalized for some kind of social or economic issue affecting the children? That's not the way to say thank you to those that are dedicated enough to be on the front line teaching in a school like this.

Do you think you're going to vote "yes" or "no" on the tentative agreement?

I don't know what the tentative agreement involves, but we have a wonderful bargaining team. We have faith in them and we hope for the best. Because we're all eager to get back in there and be with the students.

We will be happy to start working. Thanks for your support!
Lisa Elliott, left, and Jill Burday-Carson, right. The sign says, "We will be happy to start working. Thanks for your support!" Ansel Herz

Bailey Gatzert Elementary
Teacher, kindergarten
Salary: Prefers not to say

What's happening next, as you understand it?

At 1 o'clock, our bargaining team is going to present the tentative agreement to the SEA board of directors. And the board will either recommend to the representative assembly in favor of the tentative agreement or not. And then at 2:30, the representative assembly will meet—those are building reps from every school, and the number of reps is based on how many teachers you have in a building—and so the tentative agreement will be shared with all of us along with whatever came out of the board meeting, and then we'll vote. And then, we were told, assuming it passes, we would all report to school tomorrow. But there wouldn't be students. It would be a tri-day [a professional development day]. Students won't be coming until Thursday, and then sometime after today's vote, if the representative assembly votes in favor of the agreement, there will be a general meeting called and everyone will vote on it.

What will you be looking for in the tentative agreement to decide one way or another?

I know we have some teachers on staff who are very concerned with caseloads, particularly our special education staff... Personally, I don't know. I just don't know what's out there. I imagine a lot of concessions were made on both sides for them to come to an agreement, so quickly overnight. But I have tremendous faith in our bargaining team. They basically forfeited their whole summer. I know they did the best they could for us.

Bailey Gatzert Elementary
Special education
Salary: Prefers not to say

What's your biggest issue?

Testing is a big issue for me. My [special education] students don't do well on these tests. And it's such a waste of instructional time for them to be bombarded with more and more testing. I'd rather be teaching them because they're so far behind. I want to use all of my time for instructional purposes. [Lisa interjects: "It can be really damaging to them—to their self esteem."] Yeah, that too.

Would this school benefit from having an equity committee assigned to it?

Oh, absolutely. Well, a lot of our students—their families are from single family homes and their parents are working multiple jobs. We have, I think, 50 percent of our population is ESL—English as a second language. Our poverty index is above 96%, getting free and reduced [price] lunch. It's been the highest in the district. So we're a very needy school. Our students are very needy. We did a workshop on the 8th and we have something like 100 students who would benefit from one-on-one mentorship.