OREGON -- After years of negotiations and disappointment with the Oregon State Legislature's proposed budgets, Oregon educators are saying enough is enough. And if a deal can't be reached soon, teachers say they plan to hold a walkout.
Tad Shannon, who has been president of the Eugene Education Association for seven years, said they've kept steady pressure on lawmakers to get the resources teachers need to best serve students.
In a letter sent out to teachers, Shannon wrote: "No one can do this for us. The time is now. We can't wait any longer."
The letter claims Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation as well as the third highest class size.
Now, teachers are speaking out about the importance of smaller class sizes.
“I believe education is about relationships, and in general when we have these mega class sizes -- when you’re seeing 34 students come in in a 45-minute class period and then another 34 to 35 -- you just don’t have time to build those relationships,” said Paul Neiffer, a teacher in the Ione School District in Morrow County.
"We can't continually cut education and expect the results to continually improve," Shannon said.
Administrators and teachers alike said students thrive in smaller classrooms and in larger ones they suffer.
Diana Wallace, a learning consultant, said larger classrooms have the ability to create learning gaps.
"From the kid's perspective, it's difficult because they don't get the one-on-one time that they need, and so if they have a learning gap, they're not getting the interventions maybe that they should receive because the teacher can't differentiate for that many kids," Wallace said.
If legislators and educators cannot reach a compromise, the walkout will happen May 8.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that local educators are upset with Gov. Kate Brown's budget proposal. In fact, the concern is with a proposal by leaders in the state Legislature.
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