An estimated 25,000 public school teachers staged a walkout and rally in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday. Thousands of other teachers staged simultaneous walkouts and rallies at a number of other locations around the state.
The event, which was sponsored by the Oregon Education Association, forced more than a dozen Oregon public schools to close for the day, was the latest example of the nationwide #RedforEd movement, as The Oregonian reported:
About 25,000 teachers, students and supporters rallied and marched through downtown Portland Wednesday as part of the statewide teacher walkout demanding increased funding for Oregon schools.
The long-planned protests led nearly two dozen of Oregon’s 198 school districts – most in the Portland area — to close for the day. Along with the Portland rally, education advocates held events in Eugene, Medford, Bend, Klamath Falls and at the state Capitol that attracted thousands more. . .
Uncertainty on the [state government’s $2 billion education] funding bill vote helped fuel the Portland protest as supporters flocked to Waterfront Park by car, light rail and even by boat. After a short rally with state and national teacher’s union officials and education leaders, the swarm wearing “Red for Ed” shirts took to the streets beating drums and chanting, “Fund our schools!” Another popular call-out: “I asked for a counselor, you gave me a cop. The school to prison pipeline has to stop.”
As Breitbart News reported in February, “This teachers union effort, called #RedforEd, has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally. Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever.”
The president of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, tweeted out this description of the day’s #RedforEd events around the state:
You are making history! The best kind of history. The history that makes something better in the life of a child. You are standing out here today because you want to make sure they could not ignore us and our students for one more day! @oregoneducation #RedForEd pic.twitter.com/oh79nEAlXe
— Lily Eskelsen García (@Lily_NEA) May 9, 2019
Garcia spoke on Wednesday at another rally of 3,000 teachers held at the same time as the Portland rally nearby at the State Capitol in Salem, as The Salem Reporter reported:
National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García told the crowd that Oregon’s politically active teachers are asking for a more ambitious funding package than their peers in any other state.
“You are making history today,” she told a cheering crowd at the Riverfront Park amphitheater. “No one else is asking what you’re asking for.”
In an interview with Education Week on May 2, “Eskelsen García said teachers are having a bigger impact on public policy than they have in years, thanks to the #RedforEd movement. Strikes in red states—like Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia—and in deep blue cities like Denver and Los Angeles have led to more money for salaries and classrooms, and some policy changes.”
They now know their power,” she said. “It’s up to us to harness and focus that power, and we’re going to be doing that earlier than we’ve ever done in this campaign.”
Already, presidential candidates seem to be courting teachers—if not their unions, specifically. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., made a plan to raise teacher pay by an average of more than $10,000 a year her first policy proposal out of the gate. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., floated a plan to improve infrastructure, including in crumbling schools. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pitched a new universal child-care initiative.
The Oregon Education Association eagerly tweeted the details of additional rallies held around the state on Wednesday, including this rally in Hood River:
HOOD RIVER!!! pic.twitter.com/0l2Wla1KWm
— OEA (@oregoneducation) May 9, 2019
The teachers union also tweeted this image of the rally in Medford:
— OEA (@oregoneducation) May 8, 2019
Wednesday’s walkout by public school teachers in Oregon was just the latest in a long string of #RedforEd political rallies by teachers that have been held across the country since the movement launched in Arizona in March of last year.
Last week an estimated 15,000 teachers staged a “May Day” walk out and rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, forcing public schools attended by more than half the state’s students to close for the day. That same day, 10,000 teachers also started a walkout and rally in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina rally drew praise from a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.