Oregon teachers made a plea Wednesday for more state funding.

More than 20 school districts across the state were forced to close, because teachers walked out to demonstrate how much they were needed.

Schools throughout Douglas County remained open, while educators wore red to draw attention to their cause.

Members of the South Umpqua Education Association, the union representing teachers in the South Umpqua School District, declared the need for more state funding in public education by wearing red and waving signs on the Chadwick Lane overpass on Interstate 5 on Wednesday.

South Umpqua High School teacher Shannon Fye said more work needs to be done to help students succeed.

“There is still a growing need for mental health support for our students in K-12 schools,” Fye said. “With the explosive growth of children in the foster care system throughout Oregon and especially in Douglas County, incidents of violent outburst in our classrooms, even in the lowest grades, have increased.”

Approximately 50 people showed up to the rally in Tri City for educational funding.

Roseburg Education Association, the union for teachers in Roseburg Public Schools, also encouraged all staff members to wear red for education. Schools throughout the district were decorated with red balloons and signs to draw attention to their cause.

“The District and the Association have been working together to make a statement without affecting educational time for students,” Roseburg Education Association President Camron Pope wrote in a press release. “Each school will have signs made and balloons near the entrance of the buildings. The staff will be dressed in red to show a unified stance in supporting the Student Success Act.”

Pope, and a large number of teachers, showed up to the Roseburg Public Schools’ board meeting to speak out about the state of funding and to thank the board for working with the union to make up the missed days during the snow storm.

“This was not about increasing our pay or our benefits, we’re doing this to fight for our students,” Pope said. “We came here to get our voices heard.”

Roseburg Interim Superintendent Lee Paterson said, “It does look to me that there is some real promise,” regarding the Student Success Act.

The Student Success Act would provide $1 billion in funding for education through a tax on business, which was up for a vote in the state Senate on Tuesday. All 12 Republicans were absent for the vote, denying the Senate enough members to move forward with the vote.

Republican lawmakers protested the tax plan, saying it would raise prices on consumer goods without fixing the state’s pension debt of more than $25 billion.

Teachers in the Glide and Sutherlin School Districts walked to school wearing red to address the need for more state funding.

“Walking out on your kids is not the answer,” Glide Superintendent Mike Narkiewicz said in a press release. “It is very comparable to not properly funding education. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

During the school day Glide students also had the opportunity to write local legislators, showing their love for the school and the programs that were cut.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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