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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

More than 100 take to streets of Bellingham to protest school funding

Protestors march through downtown on Friday, April 24. // Photo by Edward Clem
Protestors march through downtown on Friday, April 24. // Photo by Edward Clem

Car horns blared and chants demanding school funding rang out for blocks Friday, April 24, as striking public-school teachers from Bellingham and surrounding cities brought their displeasure for school funding to the streets.

More than 100 lined E Holly Street with picket signs and red T-shirts to protest their perceived failure of the state government to adequately fund schools.

“We’re out here because our legislature is violating the mandate from the state supreme court,” said Chuck Perry, a teacher from Ferndale, said.

Perry is referring to the McCleary Decision, a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court that found that, “the state legislature has failed to fulfill its paramount duty under the constitution to ‘make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”

Another grievance teachers addressed was Washington’s rank in the bottom five out of 50 states in terms of class sizes, according to Brian Powell, a Bellingham teacher who was protesting with his wife Katie.

Data from the Washington Education Association also highlights Brian’s claim. According to the WEA, Washington ranks 45 out of 50 in average class sizes.

“The large class sizes affect me,” Kate, a physical education teacher, said. “The difference between my classes of 36 and 25 is incredible, students recognize it.”

Greater Bellingham area teachers are not the only in Washington to protest this week. According the Everett Herald teachers have also walked off in Arlington, Lakewood, Stanwood-Camano, and Mount Vernon.

Protestors march through downtown on Friday, April 24, to voice dissatisfaction for current school funding.  // Photo by Edward Clem
Protestors march through downtown on Friday, April 24, to voice dissatisfaction for current school funding. // Photo by Edward Clem

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