More than a thousand Oregon educators, union members and parents rallied at the state capitol today, urging lawmakers to support funding for public schools and social services.
“Don’t hurt those most at risk! Oregon needs a better fix!,” demonstrators chanted as some held onto red balloons and signs that read “Quality Services. Quality Life” and “Make Education your priority.”
The “Strong Schools Strong Oregon” day of action, organized by the Oregon Education Association, kicked off with a rally at noon on the steps of the Capitol. Hundreds of demonstrators then marched around the capitol in the rain and continued chanting in the rotunda for about an hour.
Participants were from a variety of advocacy groups, including SEIU, the Salem-Keizer Education Association and Basic Rights Oregon.
Parents, educators, service providers and others spoke to the demonstrators, some sharing personal stories about how budget cuts directly affected them.
Julie Swinehart, a Crook County High School teacher from Prineville said her 9-year-old son has missed over a month of the school because of budget cuts and the shortened academic calendar. At the same time, the education system is too focused on standardized testing and not on creative subjects such as music and art.
“Every student in Oregon deserves access to equality education. They need teachers, who are valued, trusted and do what they know best and that is to educate the whole child,” Swinehart said.