On the heels of the great victory of the Student Success Act, I fully anticipated my Fall Today's OEA welcome column to be focused on the continued fight for revenue in the form of a ballot measure. In mid-July, however, Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce announced they were dropping their campaign to refer the measure to the ballot, and for the first time in my 30-year career, I am not engaged in a campaign to raise revenue for schools.
It is exciting to know we will soon see $2 billion flow into our school system to alleviate the chronic underfunding that has plagued generations of Oregon students. While we know that $2 billion cannot erase 30 years of disinvestment, it will take some time to let re-investment take hold in our schools. At that time we must be ready to identify the gaps in funding that will most certainly still exist and mount a new campaign for education funding in Oregon.
This investment in our schools is historic; it goes a long way to help fund the schools we have. As we look to the future, however, it is incumbent upon our union to begin to delineate between the schools we have and the schools we need. And educators need to be at the forefront of defining what schools that serve all students look like. We must envision what it would look like for students of color, LGBTQ+ students and economically disadvantaged students to have what they need to thrive in our schools. We must recognize the social and emotional needs of the next generation of students and create a system that addresses these needs. We must work within our communities with parents, community-based organizations, and with our students to really listen to how Oregonians are being impacted by their school experience and work to make it better.
On May 8, 2019, Oregon educators across the state banded together to say enough is enough. Fund our schools. And people listened. As we see our May actions begin to fade in the rearview mirror, our union must look forward to a new day and continue the fight to make Oregon schools the schools our students deserve.
Thank you for all you do for students in this great state!