If you have school-aged children just about anywhere in Oregon (and maybe even if you don’t), you’ve probably heard that SOMETHING is happening this Wednesday, May 8th. School districts all over the state will not be open or will operate on a shorter schedule, leaving many Oregonians (parents and non-parents alike) to question: what’s going on?
What’s Happening May 8?
To quickly get to the point, on May 8, large numbers of public school teachers will participate in a walk-out in an attempt to advocate for better state funding for their students. An increasing number of districts cite inadequate numbers of staff to safely provide supervision of students as the reason for the school closures. More districts are making the call to close or shorten the school as May 8 approaches.
The decisions on school closure and corresponding makeup days are specific to each district. Some districts are choosing to add a makeup school day to the end of the year, while others are not. It’s best to check with your specific school district as to what their plans are.
The closures will not affect some activities including AP/IB testing, Outdoor school, and certain extracurricular activities (as per each district). Also, there may be breakfast and/or lunch available at limited sites.
Many after school programs are treating the day like a teacher workday and are offering care. However, this does not alleviate the financial and logistical burden for some families that are trying to secure care for their children.
Day of Action
The Oregon Education Association (OEA) has called for a statewide teacher’s “Day of Action.” They mention overcrowded classrooms, low graduation rates, and many teachers having to pay (without reimbursement) for proper supplies as reasons for needing more funding off K-12 schools in Oregon. The Oregon Quality of Education Model (QEM) was made to help legislatures estimate the amount of money required to provide quality education based on several different factors. However, the allocated funds to meet the QEM have consistently fallen short.
Rallies in support of increased funding for education are scheduled across the state. Larger demonstrations are expected in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Medford, and Bend. Many educators are hoping that their presence in the numbers expected, will send a message to Oregon legislatures that it’s time to increase funding.
It’s important to note that many of these educators are willingly forgoing a day of pay to advocate for their students.
Student Success Act (HB 3427)
One of the main goals for the Day of Action is to encourage Oregon lawmakers to pass HB 3427, also referred to as the Student Success Act. The bill aims to provide funding to lower class sizes, bring back programs and classes that have been previously cut, and expand student services for issues that reach beyond academia, such as mental health. It would increase funding by $2 billion over the next two years by raising taxes on Oregon businesses that gross profits over $1 million.
As of now, HB 3427 has passed the Oregon House and will now head to the Senate.