Seattle public school children became the most recent victims of a series of teachers’ union strikes across the nation. The Seattle Education Association voted to authorize the strike by sweeping margins

Ninety-five percent of union members approved a strike authorization in a Tuesday vote, according to the Seattle Education Association. Seventy-five percent of its 6,000 members voted to deprive Seattle’s 50,000 students of a timely start to the school year, the union said.

The Seattle public school district informed parents that school would most likely not be in session “because of a planned work stoppage by Seattle Education Association (SEA).”

While teachers on Twitter are framing the issue as a path to better serve students, it is largely an issue of teacher salary and paid leave policy: 

Some children might be relishing the extra days of summer vacation but they will suffer the most harm in the long run. Student performance in school districts where teachers are striking is utterly dismal, and denying them an education will only compound the losses. Already low-performing students, including those with disabilities, will be harmed the most.

The tragic effects of pandemic-era learning loss are on clear display in the Seattle school district. Records show that last year, only 43.5% of all students met the standards for math. Seattle test scores for the most vulnerable students were even more alarming, with only 10.9% of Black students and 15.7% of low-income students passing the state’s math assessment. A tragic 8% of English language learners met those same standards.

One district educator defended her vote to strike because “we need a contract that shows us respect and shows us respect as the experts that we are, that we know our children & we know how to best support them and give them the world-class education they deserve…” 

Considering last year’s pitiful outcomes, it is certainly up for debate whether or not Seattle public schools are really “experts” trying to offer students a “world-class education.”

Teachers’ unions deprived Seattle school children of education during their most formative years due to prolonged school closures and disruptive quarantine policies. Striking teachers in Washington’s Kent School District just caused students to miss nine days of instruction, deepening the learning loss crisis among the state’s most vulnerable students. Unfortunately, no private school choice program exists in Washington state that can be expanded to serve children impacted by strikes. 

Teacher strikes are not only a major detriment for students academically and socially but are a major inconvenience for parents. The disruptive and last-minute cancellation of school days leaves working parents scrambling for child care and families who rely on free or subsidized school lunches wondering how they will feed their children. Clearly, Washington parents and students deserve education freedom.