As Teacher Walkouts Spread, The Funding Fight Comes to Oregon

In an inspiring display of solidarity and commitment, teachers across the country have been walking off the job to protest cuts in education funding, and corporate tax breaks driving them.

Just last week 26,000 teachers in North Carolina stormed the state capitol demanding more funding for public education. This action followed week-long teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona, as well as shorter strikes in Kentucky and Colorado.  

Oregon is suffering some of the same problems. Rather than address the revenue crisis that is putting so many Oregon families at risk, Governor Brown convened a special legislative session this week to create MORE corporate tax breaks.

It’s not the corporate executives she should be worried about— it’s the working families of Oregon, especially our children, who lawmakers need to focus on. When it comes to our schools, we are in a state of emergency! Every year, we slip further away from meeting our commitment to our kids, the commitment we made when we adopted the Quality Education Model over twenty years ago. The QEM was supposed to be a baseline of services our students require, a starting point for doing much more, not a goal falling further and further out of reach.

The fact is our schools are suffering because every year we ask educators to do more with less. We can’t hold things together anymore, and now students are simply getting LESS: less individual attention, fewer opportunities, and less support than they deserve. 

And every year kids are coming to school with more serious needs, because more children are living in poverty and their families are suffering. Our students and their families are being displaced from their neighborhoods and communities; they face food insecurity; and they have inadequate health care. We see these issues in our students, and their lack of hope for the future.

Oregon’s public school students, and their families, are the ones facing URGENT problems in need of solutions. Governor Brown and the legislature should use this special session to get our priorities straight. It’s time to make corporations in this state pay their fair share. Oregon has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, and its appalling that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are planning to make the problem worse in this special session.

Business is booming in Oregon. But every day Oregon legislators are failing working families. The time is long overdue to FIX our ongoing revenue shortfall, and make corporations pay their fair share. It’s the least they can do to support the communities that make their businesses so incredibly profitable.

If lawmakers don’t fix the problem, we may have to follow the lead of teachers around the country and take action too.