The Washington Education Association has informed one of its members, a teacher at Lynnwood High School, that she must remove more than two dozen campaign signs from her classroom.
The WEA said it was protecting teacher Sharon Kirskovich, who used the signs for lessons on politics, from being fined by the state for unlawful political activity.
But Kirskovich doesn’t want the union’s help. In fact, she’s miffed her lesson plans have been altered by the union’s heavy hand.
KIRO Radio in Seattle got wind of the union’s action. Linda Thomas did a report Tuesday on her show, “The News Chick.”
The story will soon be everywhere and the union is going to come off as out-of-touch.
WEA officials should know better. The WEA is politically active. It endorses candidates, takes stands on issues and lobbies on behalf of its members.
Perhaps union officials should sit in on one of Kriskovich’s U.S. government classes when she teaches lessons on politics. They might learn something about being sensitive to public perception.
Kriskovich was simply doing her job as a teacher in having the political signs posted in her classroom. The signs were for both Republicans and Democrats. Some were from this year’s election and some from past elections.
She uses the signs to teach about propaganda, advertising, and candidates’ talking points in a non-partisan way, Thomas reported.
Lynnwood High School officials have no problem with the signs nor do school district officials.
It is only the WEA — her union — that has squawked.
“It’s inane. It’s appalling,” Kriskovich said.
She is nevertheless complying (at least for now). Thomas reported Tuesday that Kriskovich had the signs piled in the corner of her classroom until she could take them to her garage.
The reason the union gave for insisting the signs be removed doesn’t hold water. Kriskovich won’t be fined. A spokeswoman with the Public Disclosure Commission told Thomas no one has filed a complaint against the teacher, and she would be exempt from PDC rules anyway as long as she was using the campaign materials in a non-partisan way for her curriculum.
WEA officials have clearly gone too far. They seem to forget that they represent and work on behalf of Kriskovich and all teachers, not the other way around.
And in trying to force Kriskovich to bow to its demands, the WEA has damaged its credibility.
After this episode makes its way through a couple of news cycles, the political signs will likely be back up in Kriskovich’s classroom.