In an ongoing battle for student and teachers’ rights in Portland, Oregon’s public school system, nearly 3,000 teachers voted Wednesday night with an overwhelming majority to authorize a strike starting February 20th if school officials don’t meet their demands to improve education.
Among those demands, the teachers are calling for Portland Public Schools to hire more teachers in order to allow smaller class sizes. The teachers are also calling for a curriculum that “does not force teachers to teach to the test” and an increase in teacher pay that “provides fair compensation after years of sacrifice,” according to the Portland Association of Teachers.
“No teacher ever wants to go on strike, we want to be in classrooms with our students,” explained PAT president Gwen Sullivan. “But Portland teachers are united and resolved to stand up for our students’ learning conditions. It’s time to move this to a conclusion so that we can have a contract that is fair for teachers and good for students.”
Emphasizing the fact that the strike is over more than just teacher pay, Mark Wilson, a teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary in North Portland stated, “I wouldn’t strike if this were over a percentage point over salary. It’s about class sizes.”
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Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, parents, community members and students rallied outside the venue in support of the teachers.
Students at several Portland high schools also planned their own rallies in support of the teachers’ demands, as the Portland Tribune reports. Portland Student Union members organized walkouts across the district at Jefferson, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Grant high schools on Wednesday.
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