Listen to our teachers | Editorial

On Friday morning of last week, San Juan Island School District teachers went on strike. They claim they are at an impasse with the district negotiating team for fair contracts.

This is the first time we have seen San Juan teachers go on strike. Watch for updates on the story.

Amy Hull, president of the district’s teachers’ union, called the San Juan Education Association, told the Journal, “We need to attract and retain quality teachers mainly because the students are so important to us.”

We agree that paying teachers a fair wage will indeed attract better educators. And we need the best teachers possible, especially on an isolated island, where it can be hard to attract employees of any kind.

Plus, locally, there is a high cost of living. The University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies reports that the median San Juan County house price is $453,100 making it difficult for working folk to live on the islands.

America, overall, has a poor historical record when it comes to installing high-qualified educators charged with the minds of our nation’s youth.

According to a story in the Atlantic, “as late as the 20th century, would-be educators generally had little if any student-teaching experience prior to entering classrooms, and they received no preparation for teaching particular content areas.”

Why is it as a society we put such little stock in those who are responsible for shaping the next generation?

According to the National Center for Educations Statistics, 40 percent of college students do not graduate. We are criticized by countries like Taiwan and Korea because we can’t compare with their international testing scores.

The Atlantic story also stated that “roughly half of teachers report feeling under great stress several days a week, job satisfaction is at a 25-year low, and almost a third of teachers say they are likely to leave the profession within the next five years.”

So nation-wide we have a problem, and on San Juan Island we, too, feel the weight of this issue that casts a shadow on us all.

We have to do what we can to support our educators. Our teachers do not go on strike lightly and the significance of their protests should not be ignored.

If they ask for fair contracts, we need to be good students and open our ears and listen.