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Woodburn contingent joined a state and nationwide Presidents Day march in Salem aimed at education funding

TOM PATTERSON: COURTESY OF OREGON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION - #RedforEd marchers assemble at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Presidents Day.A group of educators and their family members gathered in the rear parking lot at Woodburn's French Prairie Middle School on Presidents Day morning where they boarded a bus destined to join thousands of others in a "Sea of Red for Ed."

"March for Our Students," a rally at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, reportedly drew nearly 5,000 participants statewide with aims to encourage the state legislature to fully fund education. Many donned red garb, symbolizing a national #RedforEd movement.

Much of the emphasis focused on class sizes.

"Our children deserve smaller class sizes so they don't get lost amidst their classmates or within the system. They deserve my undivided attention," said fourth-grade teacher Nichole Watson of Portland.

Oregon's rally was a piece of a national drive spirited by the National Education Association and executed by state and regional associations, such as the Woodburn Education Association.

"Now is the time for us to come together. Now is the time for us to push the envelope. Now is the time to stand in union as educators and community members for our students," said English teacher and Oregon Education Association President John Larson. "As educators, we see it every day – decades of disinvestment mean that our schools are in trouble.

"It's time for Oregon to fully fund its education system. Students and educators can't wait."

An OEA report underscores that cuts at k-12 and community college levels have resulted in decreased school days, educator layoffs, increased class size and loss of programs such as music, art and physical education. The report also cites concomitant program cuts and tuition increases at the community college level.

Related story: Teachers, students rally in Salem for increased school funding

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