Over 25,000 educators, students and supporters rallied for school funding at the Portland Waterfront this last Wednesday, May 8, 2019. In at least 25 school districts, schools were closed for all or part of the day.
“Today’s massive turnout from educators and public school supporters sends a simple and powerful message to state lawmakers: our students need you to step up and fully fund their schools and they need it now,” John Larson, high school English teacher and President of the Oregon Education Association said. “Oregon students cannot wait any longer. Lawmakers must fund our schools.”
The rally brought attention to the Student Success Act of which is waiting for passage by the Oregon State Senate. The Student Success Act, if passed, would provide $1 billion a year in new funding for schools, funds that would address the issues present in Oregon classrooms caused by decades of reduced funding.
“You are part of a national movement of and by educators to fight for the public schools our students deserve,” Lily Eskelen-Garcia, National Education Association President said. “After seeing years of legislative neglect and the chronic underfunding of public education, educators now are demanding more for their students. Oregon educators and union members are taking matters into their own hands and they are ready to step up for their students, their communities, and public education.”
Class sizes and graduation rates are among the highlighted concerns brought to attention by the rally. Oregon has among the highest average class sizes and lowest graduation rates in the nation. Schools in Oregon are also without school counselors, nurses and mental and behavioral health support that students need.
“Investing in our schools would mean could afford the behavioral and mental health supports that students so desperately need,” says Larson. “Today, tomorrow, and every day – educators are fighting for our students.”