A sea of educators and supporters, mostly dressed in red, answered a call from the Oregon Education Association to rally in Salem Feb. 18 for more resources.

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL ALEXANDER/OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - Portland fourth-grade teacher Nichole Watson of Rosa Parks Elementary School, told teachers and supporters gathered Monday, Feb. 18, in Salem that her students deserve 'my undivided attention.' Salem teacher Jamie Keene went to urgent care early this year after one of her fourth-grade students caused her to pull a muscle in her back.

With 33 students in her class at Schirle Elementary, Keene said one regularly hits her, pulls her hair and twists her arms when he gets overstimulated in class. He'd benefit from more individual attention and a smaller class, she said.

"It's not because he means to do it. It's because he's not getting what he needs," she said.

PMG/EO MEDIA/SRKeene was among thousands of Oregon teachers and educators who rallied Monday, Feb. 18, at the Capitol in Salem on Presidents Day, urging increased school funding to cut class sizes and hire more staff like nurses, librarians and classroom aides to better meet student needs.

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL ALEXANDER/OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - Thousands of teachers, students, supporters and educators rallied Monday, Feb. 18, at the Capitol in Salem for more resources and funding for schools. "We need to do everything possible to make sure our students have the schools they deserve," said John Larson, Oregon Education Association president, who teaches high school English in Hermiston.

A sea of educators and supporters, mostly dressed in red, answered a call from the Oregon Education Association to show up and speak about why they need more resources in schools. Signs in the crowd read, "Those who can teach. Those who can't make laws about teaching" and "Please don't make us move to Washington," a reference to an education spending bill Washington state passed last year that increased teacher pay.

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL ALEXANDER/OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Washington County Democrat, told Monday's rally in Salem that she supported spending more money for public education. Bonamici was one of several leaders who spoke during the Feb. 18 March for our Students rally at the Capitol.Union leaders called on the crowd to continue pushing legislators with days of action on the second Wednesday of every month during the session. Legislators are considering a request from Gov. Kate Brown to boost school spending by $2 billion in the 2019-21 biennium. That increase, however, will require higher taxes, the governor has said.

Music teachers played pep band classics like "Crazy Train" on the Capitol steps after the rally, and a throng of teachers circled the building, carrying signs and chanting, "You've left us all no choice/We have to use our teacher voice."

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL ALEXANDER/OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - Local teachers Katie Lukins of Bethany Elementary School, left, and Jessica McBride of Bonny Slope Elementary School, delivered messages Monday, Feb. 18, to Oregon Senate offices after the March for our Students in front of the Capitol."It's exciting to see this many people," said Lindsey Dance, an elementary school Spanish teacher from Beaverton, who said she was happy to use her day off to travel to Salem. "I feel like what we have been doing hasn't been working."

Veteran teachers in the crowd said they've seen a decline over the past several decades in school funding, which has translated into larger classes, more extreme student behavior and other problems in classrooms.

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL ALEXANDER/OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - Teachers and their supporters marched in front of the Capitol Monday, Feb. 18, during the March for our Students rally."I love kids, but it's getting very frustrating with lack of funds and resources," she Julie Rundquist, a music teacher at Crossler Middle School. She's been an educator for 32 years and has two children who also teach.

Larson said students acting out in ways that threaten the safety of peers and teachers are a frequent occurrence in many schools, a symptom of low staffing.

"We don't have the staff to prevent a student with unmet needs from escalating," he said.

Following the march, educators wrote personal stories on cards and streamed into the Capitol, delivering them to senators' offices.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: 503-575-1241 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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