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An intense mobilizing effort by the union saves the Department of Corrections contract for community colleges statewide.
OEA’s Mediation Network provides peer-to-peer support in navigating conflicts through holistic ways
The return to in-person learning across the state has been a challenge for all school employees, but the change has been an almost insurmountable task to Oregon’s school nurse population. Their duty to the health and safety of their students and fellow educators is made next to impossible due to the fact that there are so few of them. As of 2020, there are over 4,500 students for every one school nurse. Last year, the number of Oregon school districts with no nursing staff was 61.
The problem is decades old. In 2009, the Oregon Legislature directed districts to meet a goal of a 1:750 school nurse-to-student ratio by 2020, but without funding, the mandate stalled. It is currently up to individual districts to budget for nursing staff, but as class sizes continue to grow and student mental health needs are increasing rapidly, many districts have had to make the difficult decision to hire more classroom educators, support staff, and mental health specialists.
Tanya Martin, a school nurse in Springfield, says that without dedicated funding to support investment in more school nursing staff, the gap will continue to widen. “I would like to see something mandated that has funding behind it so that districts can do it,” she says, “And it might not be the 1 to 750 (ratio) right away, but even a step in the right direction would be helpful.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) under President Biden has reversed course on one of the most controversial decisions of the previous administration. A DOJ memorandum, which was delivered to Civil Rights Directors of all federal agencies on March 26, states that under Title IX, students must be protected from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity. This is a departure from the guidance issued just two months earlier by the former department leadership, which only allowed protections against discrimination based on “biological sex, male or female”.
The directive was announced just as many states have begun introducing laws to limit the protections of transgender youth this year, such as Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming medical treatment.
The Biden administration has also taken steps to protect transgender school athletes by withdrawing previously-filed federal court briefs that attacked transgender-inclusive policies in some states’ school sports programs.
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the lives of students and families, causing increased mental health crises and financial strain, Eastern Oregon University is offering educators a better way to deliver support through their Trauma in Educational Communities Certificate.
The certification is acknowledged by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the only trauma-informed education program in the state to receive this recognition, and teachers who complete the program qualify for a specialization on their teaching license. Educators can take this continuing education program online and complete it in one year. The program is designed to create more equitable classroom environments, helping to decrease disciplinary measures and absenteeism, and increase academic achievement.
To learn more about the program, visit www.eou.edu/bridge-academy.
There are many regional opportunities for educators across Oregon as part of the RENs funded by the Educator Advancement Council. The Educator Advancement Council (EAC) was created as a public-nonprofit partnership through state statute to significantly improve professional supports for Oregon's public educators. The council launched 10 Regional Educator Networks (RENs) across Oregon. The RENs facilitate a process that centers the voices of educators to operationalize meaningful, systemic changes to improve recruitment, retention, and professional learning. To find a REN in your community, go to: oregoned.org/regional-educator-networks.