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#MomOnStrike: A Seattle School Strike Diary

Counting down the hours of the most endless summer. Ever.

Published on: September 09, 2015

First, there are a lot of great resources for updated breaking Seattle strike news and in-depth background information about McCleary, failed school funding, teacher salaries, district negotiations, and the Washington tax system. Also, homeschool ideas and crafts for bored children.

This is not that list.

This is one diary of one mom who loves her kids, loves teachers, had a long enough summer thank you, and is now searching for the closest coping mechanism. Or wine glass.

Day 4 observations, Seattle public school strike:

I will NOT allow any TV today.

I will only allow TV from 8-8:20 a.m. Then we're doing school work.

School work will start at 9 a.m. sharp.

I will only allow TV until 9 a.m., NO extensions.

At 9 a.m. we are for sure having breakfast, then school work begins.

TV absolutely ends at 9:15.

And no screen time the rest of the day.

I'm serious.

Day 2 observations, Seattle public school strike:

1. Teaching is hard. This morning I decided it would be a smart idea to get my kids started on school, even though there is no school. Millions of families homeschool, I thought, what could be so hard? Plus, despite good intentions, I did not force them to do math workbooks or write reports this summer, opting instead to alternate between camps and complete screen-time brain drain.

So. The 8-year-old got set up with a few math pages, which was awesome because we discovered that since June she forgot how to subtract. And then she watched a Northern Lights video I found online after Googling for a second, and took a cute quiz. The 10-year-old was assigned a New York Times Sunday travel story on Havasu Falls, which after reading she promtly deemed "not very good." She wrote a one-page report. By then their faces looked like I was whacking them with a bamboo cane instead of assigning them 20 minutes of school, and I had to get to work anyway, so we ended it. Again I say, hats off to you teachers.

2. Everything that came in the mail today smacked of a certain irony, even schadenfreude. Email subject line #1: TIME OUT FOR MOM! Email subject line #2: A WONDERFUL TIME TO BE IN SEATTLE! And postcard that arrived in my mailbox (in shame-conferring lowercase script): gee, i could really use a therapist (courtesy of one Center for Psychology of Women).

Ha ha ha ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahahahahahahahaha.

3. Confession: I wasn't really all that sure where my kids were today. I had to work, and some parent friends took pity on us and assembled a large pack of children at their house in morning. Then other pity-taking parents transferred the pack to their house in the afternoon. Someone fed my kids, I think. They did ... something all day. I'm not sure what. But everyone lived. And I am so grateful to the other, better parents.

(I also could not go by the picket line with scones or pizza because, work. But I did honk at the five schools I passed.)

4. Screw you, ice cream truck. I know, that sounds horrible, right? But here's the problem: I was expecting SUMMER TO BE OVER. It's September. Normally we'd be well into the school year already. It's time to think homework, heavy scarves, fall pumpkin recipes. It's hard enough convincing my kids that even though school is in fact not in session, it is fall and it is time for introspective, calm, quiet, serious learning. I don't need the damn ice cream truck tinkling through the neighborhood acting like it's some kind of July around here or something. Geez.


Day 1 observations, Seattle public school strike:

1. Kids are incredibly motivated to wake up early, get dressed, brush teeth, even fold laundry if it means getting to then leave the house and go to school to "hang" at the picket line. I can't imagine half as much morning enthusiasm had we been actually going to class.

Photographic evidence of laundry folded very early in the morning.

2. Parents in Seattle seem more determined than I had even fathomed to support teachers. It seems we are collectively sick of the farce thinly disguised as education funding in this state, sick of legislators not getting it done even in the face of court order.

3. It seems that in truth we are also sick with ourselves, collectively, b/c if our tax system is so messed up we cannot fund basic education, it is really our own faults.

These got made.

4. Seattle parents, even those of us who need to rush off to outside jobs, sure like to rally up scones, coffee, muffins, croissants, cheese plates, fruit plates, brownies and soup for teachers on the picket lines. They even come loaded with folding tables, cups, plates and craft materials. There is a lot of love here.

5. Kids are learning a lot about unions, bureaucracy, politics and cold hard cash money. 

"I wag for teachers."

6. In my north Seattle region dogs are almost as ubiquitous as signs on the picket lines. I saw several teachers walking the picket line with a beast on a leash. No Seattle school on strike is complete without a pooch.

7. With news that the strike could go on days or even weeks, many Seattle parents are outwardly frantics, screaming inside, or both. Wine sales in the region are way up.

Coming soon to a home near you.


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