This week, Townhall covered how one state passed a policy that lowers the requirements for students to graduate high school altogether, claiming that the previous requirements harm "students of color."
Through 2029, the state's high school students will not have to prove mastery in reading, writing and math to graduate, the state Board of Education decided. This initially began in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue.
Now, reports broke that teachers in this state are now going on strike, making it impossible for students to attend school.
Teachers and other school employees in Portland, Oregon, began to strike on Wednesday, according to The New York Times. This canceled school for tens of thousands of students in the district (via NY Times):
The Portland Association of Teachers, which represents about 3,700 teachers, school counselors and other employees in the negotiations, is asking for higher wages, more time to plan lessons and a cap on class sizes, among other issues. They say that students’ emotional and academic needs have skyrocketed since the pandemic, and that employees are under strain and undersupported.
“We are on strike not just for ourselves, but for our students,” said Angela Bonilla, the union’s president, who described crowded classrooms where there aren’t enough desks, teachers who are working up to 20 hours a week unpaid to keep up with their workloads and schools that are overwhelmed by students’ mental health challenges.
The average salary for a Portland teacher is $87,000, according to Portland Public Schools, slightly above the area median income for a single person and below the median for a family of four. (The union said that the average full-time salary is about $83,000.)
Portland Public Schools has offered raises of 4.5 percent for the first year, and 3 percent in subsequent years of the contract. The union is asking for 8.5 percent in the first year to keep up with cost of living, and 6 percent and 5 percent in subsequent years.
The district serves around 45,000 students. And, the students spent "significant" time out of the classroom and stayed fully virtual until April 2021. This was longer than most school districts.
Nicki Neily, the president of parental rights organization Parents Defending Education, called the district "students last."
"Oregon recently removed basic competency requirements in reading, writing, and math in order to graduate high school because they're 'unnecessary' and 'disproportionately harm students of color.' Now teachers in Oregon's largest district are on strike preventing 45,000 students from going to school," she wrote on X.
Oregon recently removed basic competency requirements in reading, writing, and math in order to graduate high school because they're "unnecessary" and "disproportionately harm students of color."— Nicki Neily (@nickineily) November 2, 2023
Now teachers in Oregon's largest district are on strike preventing 45,000 students… pic.twitter.com/MoXxq49nOc
Last year, Townhall covered how many teachers unions across the country went on strike ahead of the 2022-2023 school year. This is the same time most school districts plan to return to full-time, in-person and "normal" schooling since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.