Of all the issues facing the state of Washington, education funding may be the biggest, and the one that inspires the most fervor in citizens. You don't have to look any further than districts all across the state that have risen up together to call for better funding for our schools.
On June 3, the Fife took its turn with a march for education, which attracted more than 200 students, administrators, teachers, and various faculty to walk 20th Avenue. The group came bearing signs calling for more education funding, as well as smaller class sizes, and, quite bluntly, for Washington state legislature to do their job.
While other districts chose to stage walk-outs during school hours, requiring a day to be made up later in the year, Fife chose to host their march after school to send the message of funding to the proper recipients.
“Our school board joins me and all of the district administration in overwhelming support for all stakeholders of the Fife School District to rally together for this event. Making the time to support and team with our teachers is a high priority action for everyone in this district,” Superintendent Kevin Alfano said in a press release. “We didn’t want to send the message to the district, we wanted to send it to the legislature. That being said, we completely support and stand with the other districts who did have a walk-out.”
The march was a good way to bring attention to problems facing every school in our state, particularly concerning poor classroom sizes.
"People don’t realize how over-crowded the classrooms are, and how less individualized attention a child gets,” marcher Beth Jersey said.
The march saw everyone wearing a shade of crimson to support the statewide “Go Red for Ed” campaign, showing that the Fife, Milton and Edgewood communities all stand in solidarity for education.
“I’m proud to be a teacher in Fife. Parents, the community and the school board are all supporting education,” Fife Education Association (FEA) President Kirk Dodge said.
While a message can be sent to the legislature with just teachers marching, Fife went the extra mile and got many different citizens involved.
“The FEA feels that a stronger message would be sent to the legislature by including not just teachers but also parents, students, administrators, school board members and Fife community members attending the informational march,” Dodge said.
With high classroom sizes and a low payroll for teachers, it’s difficult to attract fresh, new blood to the area, and this needs to change to ensure a bright future for Fife school district students according to Dodge.
“We need to be able to attract good, new teachers,” he said. “We need to get the youngest and brightest into teaching.”
As the McCleary Decision has established that the state has failed in its paramount duty to fund education, since then there has been an outpouring of support across Washington to improve education funding, as well as a serious retooling of the school system.
“We’ve been out of the text books for months, it’s just been continous testing since then,” Dodge said. “We can’t use the library or technology because it’s blocked out for testing.”
The purpose of all these walk-outs and marches is to come together as a community and demand action from legislature, a change that can only come when schools stand together.
“We need to take into account who the message is meant for,” Alfano said. “We want to put the spotlight on the legislature to get things done. For Fife it’s important to join with all the other districts in this message."