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After Contract Talks Break Down, Seattle Teachers To Strike

Teacher Jennifer Hall pickets with about 50 colleagues outside West Seattle High School last week.

Teachers in Seattle, Wash., the state's largest school district, will go on strike Wednesday. Seattle teachers haven't gone on strike since 1985.

The primary issue is pay, but as KPLU's Kyle Stokes told NPR's newscast unit, it's "pay with a twist."

"The school district wants to increase the length of the instructional day for students and the way that they propose to do this is to take away some of the time that teachers get currently to prepare for school before or after classes and use that to help lengthen the school day."

The 5,000 members of the Seattle Education Association also couldn't agree with the school board on the schedule of pay increases. The union wanted a 10.5 increase over two years, while the district stood close to its original offer of 9 percent over three years.

In addition, teachers challenged the district's standardized test regime; they want to see the amount of testing reduced and to have more input into which tests were selected.

The Seattle School Board voted Tuesday to allow the superintendent Larry Nyland to take legal action against striking teachers if they refuse to return to work.

Wednesday was to be the first day of classes for Seattle's 53,000 students.

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