Some 25,000 Washington state teachers walked off the job Thursday in a defiant bid to pressure the Legislature to increase education spending.

The strike shut down schools in 36 districts, including those in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, leaving parents of some 300,000 students scrambling to find alternate activities for their children.The strike by 42 of 300 union locals, representing nearly half of the 52,000-member Washington Education Association, was concentrated in the more populous western half of the state, where increasing enrollments have put greater strains on the system.

Striking teachers picketed outside district headquarters throughout the Puget Sound region and, in Everett, flocked to the main downtown street in a bid to garner public support. A huge rally outside the Capitol in Olympia was planned for Friday.