The 2018-19 year began with much uncertainty as OEA embarked on its first foray into a Union Optional environment since the 1970’s. As local by local began reporting membership numbers, however, it quickly became clear that OEA would remain as strong as ever, and as the year would prove, become even stronger.
In the Spring of 2018 and into 2019, OEA members came together in forums across the state to begin to address the phenomenon of Disrupted Learning, a situation where unaddressed social and emotional needs of students had manifested in sometimes violent behaviors that were causing unsafe learning and working conditions in our schools. Though this was prevalent in schools across the state, OEA was the first statewide organization to begin taking action to improve learning for all students. Hundreds of educators at fourteen statewide forums and more than 1,000 online participants provided the information that resulted in OEA’s report "A Crisis of Disrupted Learning.” No research study can solve a problem, but the report has been the catalyst for action across the state. The report and its recommendations are being used by ESPs, teachers, administrators, school boards, and the department of education, not only in Oregon, but across the nation.
"THERE IS STILL MUCH TO DO, BUT I WANT TO THANK ALL OEA MEMBERS FOR MAKING 2018-19 THE MOST MEANINGFUL AND PRODUCTIVE YEAR OF MY 29 YEARS IN EDUCATION."
A Crisis of Disrupted Learning recommended many possible solutions to resolve the problem of dysregulated behavior, but most of these came with a steep price tag. This served to highlight the severe underfunding extant in Oregon schools, and OEA members, who had been telling this story to legislators for years, took this message to the street. On Feb. 18, more than 5,000 educators took marched in Salem to demand more money for public education. When the Ways and Means Committee responded by proposing a cuts budget for education, more than 30,000 educators turned out on May 8 to demand revenue reform….and WE WON!
The Student Success Act promises $2 billion per biennium in sustainable revenue dedicated to public schools, which is an historic victory. But we cannot rest. Opponents of the bill are gearing up to refer it to the ballot where we will have to fight, once again, to ensure we invest in our students. While it appears the legislature is poised to pass at least a current service level budget for higher education, there is still much work to be done to ensure we invest here as well. The struggle has been long and difficult, and there is still much to do, but I want to thank all OEA members for making 2018-19 the most meaningful and productive year of my 29 years in education. Onward OEA!