Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, February 11 2014 at 5:23 PM, Updated: Fri, February 14 2014 at 6:52 PM
Medford, Ore. -- On Tuesday, some Medford High School students walked out of class alleging that little to no learning was happening in classrooms.
This, on the first day kids went back to school with substitutes. Their regular teachers are still on strike. Teachers have picketed since Thursday of last week.
One student described classes on Tuesday as "terrible." Others called it a nightmare.
"It was pretty chaotic in the classrooms they didn't really have a system set up, there was probably up to like 40 kids in one classroom. People were sitting down on the floor," said Sarah Hoefft, a senior at South Medford High School.
"It's really confusing cause like I don't know what's going on," said Lindsay Pfeil, a 10th grader at North Medford High School.
"It wasn't like school or anything and it was chaotic and not much got done at all," said Robert Chisum, a junior at South Medford High.
Another student at South Medford High sent pictures to NBC 5 News of students standing in the halls confused, wondering where to go. He said he's usually in pre-calculus but was placed in remedial math.
Some students even walked out of school.
"There was a lot of kids that walked out," said Chisum.
"It was like pointless to be there if they're not going to give the correct education," said Hoefft.
One North Medford High School student we spoke with said her substitute did not cover any of the core subjects in class.
Mixed with the student-described discomfort and chaos, there was also sadness on campuses.
"It's sad to see your teachers out on the street and not your classrooms," Hoefft said.
Meanwhile, Medford School District Superintendent, Dr. Phil Long said while there were upwards of 40 kids in some classes. The district will be working to reduce those class sizes for Wednesday.
He said on Tuesday, about 69% of their students showed up to school.
"We know that kids who came today had excellent teaching going on, good support and where we had glitches, we're going to try and take care of that for tomorrow," said Long.
The Vice President of the Medford Education Association, Dan Jones disagreed.
"There's dissatisfaction and again, we want to get back in the classroom. The quality educators are on the sidewalks," said Jones.
Long acknowledged that students would not be learning more or faster with substitutes. He said he wouldn't argue with the fact that teachers who are currently on strike, know the kids best.
Both sides said they hope there will be an agreement soon on teachers contracts. Though Long said in the event that there's no compromise, the district is preparing a longer term plan to retain substitute teachers if absolutely necessary.
Many of the kids who spoke with NBC 5 said they were unhappy with their learning environment and also hoped the Medford School District and teachers come to a resolution soon.
Teachers and the district aren't expected to be back at the bargaining table until Wednesday to try and find a compromise on a teachers contract that's been debated for about a year now.
Sticking points on working conditions, like teacher prep time and course loads, as well as compensation remain.
For more information:
Medford School District - http://www.medford.k12.or.us/Index.asp
Medford Education Association - http://www.iteachmedford.org/
Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.
Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.
Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.