North Thurston teachers union to hold rally in Olympia on Wednesday

The North Thurston Education Association has scheduled a rally from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday (May 6) near the pedestrian bridge on the Capitol Campus.

The event is to “bring awareness to the Legislature that they really need to make some good decisions for kids, and they need to fully fund education,” said NTEA president Conni Van Hoose.

Teachers from the Shelton School District, as well as administrators from North Thurston Public Schools, plan to participate in the event, Van Hoose said.

South Sound school teachers, staff members, parents, students and community members are invited to participate, she said.

“We’re wearing red for ed — that’s kind of the theme,” said Cheri Kelley, a music specialist at Lacey Elementary School.

NTEA represents 938 teachers in Thurston County’s largest school district. The top three issues that its members want lawmakers to address in the budget are smaller class sizes, health care benefits and a cost-of-living increase for teachers, Van Hoose said.

The rally comes at a time when thousands of teachers around the state are staging walkouts in protest of legislative budget plans for education.

Kathy Beach, who teaches third grade at Horizons Elementary School in Lacey, said she hopes North Thurston’s event will convey a message to lawmakers that it’s time to fully fund education.

“In my opinion they are not doing their job,” she said. “They were given a directive from the courts, and they are halfheartedly fulfilling it.”

Beach said she also worries that lawmakers will try to strip bargaining rights from educators. She said that’s what has happened in other states, such as Wisconsin, Illinois and Kansas.

“I want to make a stand,” she said. “I don’t want to strike because in our contract, striking is against the district and we’re not upset with the district. We’re upset with the legislators.”