I have decided that the time has come for me to disclose to the world how I voted a couple of years ago. The vote? Whether or not we should obey a judge's order and start the school year after six-plus weeks of a strike, or continue. (Remember the Marysville teachers' strike, the longest in Washington state history? The one that pretty much dominated this blog when it started? Yup, that one.)
First off, I'm always a little perturbed when I read about the result, in that news reports all say that that the teachers went back to work because of the judge's order. That was not the case. The closed-door discussion made it very clear that if we went back to work, it would be because we wanted to, not because we were ordered to. Furthermore, everyone agreed that we would support our colleagues no matter what the result was. If the Marysville School Board and Superintendant had hoped to break the union by not negotiating, then taking it to court, it backfired big time, because all it did was strengthen the bonds and made us a cohesive unit.
The final vote was something like 69% voting to go back to work. And I will now tell the world that I was one of those who voted to go back. I will admit, I waffled quite a bit the whole time, going back and forth with indecision. Finally, I decided to vote "Back to work," not because the judge ordered us to, but because I didn't think the strike was going to be effective any more. If the Board and Superintendant had actually wanted to settle, they would have actually engaged in negotiations, and not use the press to spread propeganda (and yes, I do blame The Everett Herald as a party for making a bad issue even worse — but that's for another day, if at all). Frankly, I thought the strike was having no effect at all on the Board. It was time to show our commitment to the students of Marysville and go back for them, and work to elect a new Board which would deal with us fairly. At the time, however, I decided to keep my vote private. Even after the results had been announced, I decided to hold my tongue, as I still wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision. At this stage of the game, however, it's a moot point. A couple of weeks later, three new members joined the Board, replacing three of the biggest proponents of the actions that led to the strike. Not long after, the Board bought out the contract of the Superintendant. Since then, I've left the district, and they've had another contract approved and another election for the Board. All of the problems that led to the strike seem to have been overcome. Now, if only they could pass a bond to build some new schools and remodel the ones they have. About thirty percent of the district's students attend classes in portables, Marysville-Pilchuck High School is one of the most overcrowded in the state, and yet the voters haven't passed a bond in over fifteen years. Go fig. At least it's no longer my problem.