PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Thousands of teachers from across the state rallied Wednesday to push for more school funding.
Leaving their classrooms and students for the day in a move the union - the Oregon Education Association - says is part of a push for changes to K through 12 funding from the state.
Many teachers have expressed this is not a fight for better paychecks. Instead, the union says they are fighting to decrease class sizes and improve financial support for services and programs.
"Twenty five years ago I had a class of 18. So, this year, I started the year with 35. I teach 4th grade. And so, 35 years, physically they had a hard time fitting in the room. And then trying to meet all the special needs and all the issues that come up in a classroom were difficult," said Mark McDowall, 4th grade teacher in Hillsboro.
It’s a sea of red right now at Portland’s waterfront as teachers from around the region hold a rally & march for #RedforEd - a push for more state funding through a proposed bill predicted to generate $2 billion every 2 years in new funding through corporate taxes pic.twitter.com/Q5bOtWd2nL— Tyler Dumont (@TylerDumontNews) May 8, 2019
"I'm here because it's important for the future. These students need more funding, more mental health, more access to mental health services. That's what my students struggle with and we don't have the support we need," said Liz Belz-Templeman, teacher at Canby High School.
Educators and their supporters from all over the region gathered at 11 a.m. at Tom McCall Waterfront Park for a rally.
According to the union, at least 25 districts decided to close schools and cancel classes Wednesday because of the number of teachers attending.
The protest and rally also includes a march across Naito Parkway that looped back to the waterfront.
Traffic #Alert: The Oregon Education Association will conduct a rally and permitted march that will begin today in Waterfront Park at 11 a.m. The march will begin at noon and is scheduled to conclude by 2 p.m. Downtown traffic may be significantly impacted. pic.twitter.com/ma6JWYMNjt— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) May 8, 2019
Prior to heading downtown, hundreds of educators and supporters rallied at their own districts. The Beaverton Education Association said they had 300 people turn out at Northwest 173rd and Cornell on Wednesday morning.
Salem-Keizer Public Schools did not cancel classes Wednesday, but students, teachers and staff were let out early, with thousands of them ending up at Riverfront Park for a rally.
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