Victory for Tukwila Teachers and Antiwar Students

 
After a month-long struggle, the Tukwila solidarity campaign announces a qualified victory.

The Tukwila School District administrators finally announced the results of their disciplinary investigations against the Tukwila six teachers who allowed or supported the Nov. 16th walkout of 125 students against the Iraq war and military recruitment at Foster High School—a Letter of Reprimand for Brett Rogers who walked out with students and a Directive Letter for Kjell Rowe who gave students a ride to the student rally.

That no teachers were fired is a tremendous VICTORY for the Foster teachers, their students, and for us all! This is proof that there is power when ordinary people are organized, and that we can make a difference in challenging the unjust war and military recruitment in schools! The Foster principal initiated a political witch-hunt against teachers, but a powerful groundswell of support from students and community members broke his effort. Thanks to ALL who demonstrated their solidarity by calling, emailing, and protesting the Tukwila School District!

BUT…the campaign is not done.

The letters given to Mr. Rogers and Ms. Rowe will go in their permanent files if the teachers’ challenges against the disciplinary letters are not accepted. We must also remember that two of the six teachers are in their probationary period, meaning that it is somewhat in doubt whether the school district will rehire them next semester and next year. More than a 1,000 students walked out of classes in Washington State to protest the war and military recruitment in schools, but nowhere else were teachers dragged into disciplinary hearings. The administration wanted to send students and teachers the message that if you speak out against local government leaders (who are doing nothing to stop the war or military recruitment in schools), somebody will get hurt. Solidarity has made this impossible so far. But STAY TUNED to make sure that the Tukwila Six stay in the classroom next semester and next year!

Also, the school district suspended student organizer Bailey Davidson on the spurious grounds that she had an Ipod out in a substitute-led class that had no lesson plan. Although other students had Ipods out, Assistant Principal Darrel Wright picked out Bailey to suspend for nine days for questioning why she was being singled out. She was clearly targeted because she was helping Foster Student Action collect approximately 200 student signatures to defend their teachers’ jobs. Furthermore, when students tried to meet after school to peacefully assemble and organize, Principal Ilgenfritz had the meeting broken up by EIGHT POLICEMEN! Your continued solidarity can ensure that Foster students can exercise their freedom of expression!

(Note: further info and extensive media links at bottom).

Lessons of the Tukwila Six campaign

1) Students are capable of organizing resistance to military recruiters and the war

2) A teacher responsible accompanied his students in the walkout and, although the administration clearly aimed to fire him, solidarity from students and the community clearly prevented this

3) School administrations may over-react to student and teachers’ participation in civil disobedience, which can turn political expression into a fight for free speech

4) If those in authority instigate a political witch-hunt, following the regular disciplinary process is not enough. A political fight-back is necessary

5) By fighting back as broadly as possible and soliciting mainstream and alternative media, the struggle can inform and inspire people across the country

6) With teachers (and other workers), union members should push their leadership to take public stands on issues that affect us as workers (see Action Item below)

Next Steps

Students are filing an official appeal to have the one student’s suspension overturned or at least erased from her record. Students are also preparing to set up information tables and collect petition signatures right next to military recruiters whenever they show up to organize students and staff behind their goal of making schools off-limits to military recruiters. This will help attract more students to get involved in Foster Student Action and maintain a consistent presence in the school in case administrators try not to rehire the teachers next semester or next year.

CONTACTS


Contact Foster Student Action to help:  foster.action@gmail.com



Contact Tukwila Teachers and Students Solidarity Committee to help:  tukwilateachers@yahoo.com (253) 573-9252



For more info/Youth Against War and Racism: www.yawr.org (206) 931-8537  seattle@yawr.org

-Organize a YAWR group at your school
-Get a speaker to do anti-war teach-in in Washington State
-Mobilize people to the next anti-war protest

For more info on Socialist Alternative: www.SocialistAlternative.org (206) 841-5566  seattle@socialistalternative.org



Union resolutions in support of Tukwila teachers and students

(Note: Action Item below)

1) United Teachers Los Angeles (www.utla.net/aboutus/index.php)

Motion to Support Tukwila Teachers
Passed by the Board of Directors

2nd largest teachers union local in U.S.


December 5, 2007

Moved, that UTLA expresses it support for the six Tukwila teachers who face disciplinary action following a student walkout against military recruitment and urge a quick and just resolution of the proceedings against them.

Further moved, that the UTLA president will write the Tukwila Education Association a letter expressing our support, and offering assistance as needed.

Rationale: On November 16, over 1000 students in Washington state walked out of classes to protest the war in Iraq and the presence of military recruiters in schools. 150 students at Foster High School in Tukwila walked out as well. Now, six teachers are facing disciplinary action for their actions. As part of the notice teachers are threatened with dismissal if they discuss it with the public. This is clearly a violation of their rights.

2) Seattle Education Association

Largest teachers’ local in Washington State

www.seattlewea.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=57&Itemid=103

Here's the motion that passed our Seattle Education Association Representative Assembly. One vote Against passage; about 100 For!

December 17, 2007

WHEREAS the Seattle Education Association Representative Assembly is very concerned about the academic freedom and professional future of six fellow educators in the Tukwila School District and the students involved in the November 16th, 2007 anti-war walkout and protest of military recruiting on campus; and

WHEREAS 71 percent of the students of the Tukwila School District is eligible for free and reduced lunch, and military recruiters visit Foster High School frequently at lunch, be it

RESOLVED that the Seattle Education Association Representative Assembly expresses its solidarity with the six Tukwila teachers and with any and all affected students in any ongoing or related disciplinary proceedings, and commits to support the quick and just resolution of said proceedings.

Action Item

Stay tuned on the Tukwila Six campaign, but…

The solidarity campaign asks that you send the members of the UTLA and SEA a short note of thanks for taking a public stand of support for the teachers and students of Foster High School.

These locals recognized that an injury to one teacher is an injury to all, and that defending the students and teachers of Foster High School is in all our common interest.

Please write:

UTLA President: A.J. Duffy
 utlapresident@utla.net

SEA President : Wendy Kimball
 wkimball@washingtonea.org

Please send copies to the Washington Education Association and the Tukwila Education Association:  renzl@tukwila.wednet.edu, hurtc@ tukwila.wednet.edu,  Peter.Aiau@washingtonea.org,  mlindquist@washingtonea.org,  Tukwila.teachers.solidarity@hotmail.com


Extensive Media Coverage of the Tukwila Campaign

Note that by effectively soliciting mainstream and alternative media, hundreds of thousands of people across the country and world are aware of the resistance to militarism by students from the tiny one-high-school town of Tukwila Washington. If the students of Foster High School can resist…why can’t you?


Student-made video clip of Nov. 16th Foster walkout when it all started:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGSDzDF7xoY

Bellevue Radio:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RkiHiR-JR8

Unofficial Tukwila Six website with Youtube links:
www.joe-anybody.com/id106.html


homepage:: http://seattle.indymedia.org/ read more: http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2007/12/263599.shtml

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