About 15 teachers gathered Tuesday afternoon at the sundial on Capitol Campus as part of a week of planned demonstrations on state education funding issues.
Participants handed out cookies with “1351” written in frosting, and chanted “It’s time” and “It’s past time.”
The event included the ringing of an old-fashioned school bell at 1:51 p.m. Organizers say that time, which is 13:51 in military time, was chosen to symbolize that it’s time to fund the voter-approved Initiative 1351, which called for the reduction of class sizes in all grades. Most of the participants in Tuesday’s event were from Skagit and Snohomish counties.
“I wanted to come down to promote smaller class sizes,” said Cerra Sand, 34, a first-grade teacher at Silver Lake Elementary School in Everett. “I think that is very important for the education of the children.”
The action follows several days of one-day teacher walkouts in 65 school districts across the state.
“Our district was the very first one to (walk out) — we started it,” said Candy Skaugrud, 55, an eighth-grade literature teacher at Lakewood Middle School in Marysville.
She wasn’t able to make earlier protests at the Capitol, so she decided to participate in the 13:51 event because her students went to Wild Waves on Tuesday for their eighth-grade, end-of-the-year event.
Skaugrud told them that she was headed to Olympia “to fight for them.”
“This is exciting for me,” Skaugrud said. “I think it’s very valuable.”
All of the protests have been over the Legislature’s funding proposals for education — including a roll-back to parts of a class-size initiative approved by voters last fall. Teachers also say they want cost-of-living salary increases and better benefits.
Skaugrud said this week’s events are meant to keep the pressure on lawmakers.
More 13:51 protests are scheduled each day this week, and they might continue into next week or possibly until a state budget is signed if there’s interest from teachers and parents, according to Rich Wood with the Washington Education Association.