The opening months of the 2018-19 school year have given me the tremendous opportunity to get out into Oregon schools and visit with the amazing members of the Oregon Education Association. While there are most certainly daunting challenges ahead for the state of public education and the OEA this year, I am continually in awe of the work our members do. OEA members showed up in force at the 13 Disrupted Learning Forums across the state to make their voices heard about the state of overcrowded classrooms, students’ unmet needs around social and emotional learning, and possible solutions to ensure all students have access to a quality public education. I was honored to attend most of these forums and hear from members, and I was proud that we were able to bring the very highest levels of the Oregon Department of Education to speak with our members about the issues that were foremost in their minds.
OEA Vice President Reed Scott-Schwalbach and I have also heard from members during our school visits this fall. Our goal is to make at least 50 personal visits to locals and local schools during the 2018-19 year. So far this year we have met with members in Silver Falls, Salem, Centennial, Yamhill-Carlton, Medford, the Southern Oregon ESD, Gilcrest and Morrow County Schools, with visits already calendared for Brookings, Yoncalla, and Clackamas Community College ACE. During these visits, we get to see firsthand the incredible work happening in classrooms and hear from our members about what they want their union to look like. If you would be willing to host us in your classroom or at a local membership meeting of any type, please contact your local leadership, and we will make arrangements to visit.
"It is only by hearing from practitioners at every level of education and every job classification that ODE and the Legislature get an authentic picture of what is happening every day, both the successes and challenges, in Oregon schools."
The OEA is most definitely a strong voice for educators with the Oregon Department of Education and in the Oregon Legislature, but it is only by hearing from practitioners at every level of education and every job classification that ODE and the Legislature get an authentic picture of what is happening every day, both the successes and the challenges, in Oregon schools. There are many ways to get involved and make your voice heard. NEA has declared Wednesdays “Wear Red for Ed” day, building on the momentum gained by state affiliates in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, and North Carolina last spring to fully fund education in their states. Your local may have chosen a different day to show solidarity, but regardless, wear red for ed, take a picture, and send it in to the OEA Facebook page. Write a letter to your state representatives and watch for announcements from your leadership teams around local and state actions, including OEA March for our Students on Feb. 18 and OEA Lobby Day on March 25. Organize a team to come to Salem, and we will help you fund the way there. We want to turn out thousands of educators on those days to send a message to our Legislature about the state of public education in Oregon.
Thank you all, for everything you are doing to make certain Oregon students have the education they deserve. No matter how you decide to get involved, those making decisions around public education in Oregon need to hear from the practitioners doing the work day in and day out. They need to hear from you! I could not be prouder to be the President of the OEA and represent the nearly 45,000 educators who make a difference for the future of Oregon. Thank you for all you do!
— C. John Larson