As a student in the Beaverton School District, on Wednesday I will be joining teachers all across the state in the fight for the future of our schools. In the age of misinformation and fake news, I have come to believe that the only way to fight against hatred and lies is through the education of the public. And nothing affects our education more than the teachers in our schools.
As a junior, I can still remember the budget cuts of 2012. They cut whole classes at my elementary school, forcing me into a fifth grade class of 35 students. My brother had over 30 students in his first grade class. In a class of 20 first graders, there might be just two or three kids with behavior issues, but in a class of 35, the number of kids with behavior issues increases, to maybe four or five per class, which severely impacts the quality of education a child receives.
As we look at increasing our class sizes this year, we need to consider the effects on "average" students. Not necessarily honors students who are perfectly behaved and will survive classes of 40, or the students who will undoubtedly continue to monopolize teachers' time by acting out, but the large swathes of students stuck in the middle, who demonstrate desire to fulfill their potentials so long as their teachers remain invested in them.
That's not to say these cuts will only affect current students and teachers. Eliminating teachers and other valuable members of support staff will undeniably impact thousands of students today, tomorrow and 10 years from now.
I am walking out because I support my teachers. Teachers who work over time grading papers and tests. Teachers who answer their emails at odd hours of the night. Teachers who arrive at school before 6 a.m. and leave after 6 p.m. Teachers who have accompanied me on countless school trips. Teachers who refuse to give up on their students.
I'm not just walking out for teachers either. I am walking out in honor of our support staff too. I am walking out to support the librarians who great me every day, regardless of how grumpy I am. I am walking out for those who can always spare a minute to check in on me, or congratulate me on an achievement.
As the niece of an elementary school teacher, I have the privilege of seeing just how much a teacher's job can affect their home life. I have seen my aunt come home crying from a hard day at school. I have seen her attend funerals for students' guardians. I have seen her bring piles of homework and tests to grade while away on family vacations.
But I'm not here just to advocate for myself. I have one year left in the IB Diploma program. My brother is about to enter high school. But my cousins, all younger than 12, have many more years ahead of them in the Oregon school system.
I am here to use my voice for all of the students and teachers across this state. We deserve more than gigantic class sizes and the job insecurities that come with them.
Please join me in the fight for our education and our futures.
Vivian Knudsen is a high school student in Beaverton.
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