Portland teachers, families march over Burnside Bridge ahead of looming strike
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Portland Public Schools District teachers and families rallied at the Portland Association of Teachers office on Saturday morning to pressure the district to meet their demands before Nov 1.
“We’re going to keep fighting and it’s their choice to do what’s right,” said PAT president Angela Bonilla. “They can do what’s right, they can do what’s easy. What’s easy is continuing the status quo what’s right is disrupting the systems we currently have that haven’t been serving all of us.”
Teachers are asking for safer classrooms free from mold and mice, more mental health specialists for students and smaller classroom sizes. However, if a deal isn’t reached, PPS teachers will go on strike Wednesday.
“We’re doing it for our kids, but we can’t wait another day for this, it has to happen now,” said Allison Ferguson, a teacher at Chief Joseph Elementary School.
Alex Stegner teaches at Lincoln High School and said he typically has a classroom of 34 students, which can be frustrating.
“I cannot actually spend the time that they need to really advance them and meet them where they are,” he said.
On Friday, a member of the school district’s bargaining team, Dr. Renard Adams said the union’s proposal is not financially possible. He said it would require $277 million in cuts, and he said the district is getting less money from the state due to low enrollment.
“We’re constantly in contact with our legislative officials and trying to advocate for more funding and we need public education fully funded,” Adams said. “We are not a private company; we have a fixed revenue, and a strike will not change that.”
With only a few days left to reach an agreement, teachers and community members formed a sea of white and blue, and marched over the Burnside Bridge Saturday morning to make their voices heard.
“We’re hoping this march today is a really big wake up call to them that we will go on strike if they don’t get really serious,” Stegner said.
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