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OEA 2019 Legislative Priorities

By Jenny Smith | OEA Communications

This legislative session, OEA has been focused on three major goals to improve Oregon’s learning and working conditions for students and educators:

  • Secure significantly increased funding for education
  • Work to solve issues of disrupted learning in our classrooms and schools
  • Protect educators’ hard-earned benefits
Money for Schools

Historic disinvestment in education over the last 30 years has resulted in unacceptable learning conditions for Oregon students. This year, we secured a major victory by passing the Student Success Act. This bill would add $2 billion to our school budgets, meaning an 18% increase for K-12 schools

After years of lobbying, organizing, sharing stories, and bringing together stakeholders, we passed the largest investment in education in Oregon’s history! These dedicated funds will begin to impact classrooms and school buildings in myriad positive ways in 2020. There is much work left to do, and community college budgets are still in process at print time.

Disrupted Learning

Our schools are in crisis all across the state. Students come to school with intense unmet needs that impact their learning at school — such as hunger, homelessness, unmet mental health needs, and traumatic events at home. Without adequate resources to support our students, these challenges result in frequent, severe disruptions and outbursts that take time away from learning and affect all of our students. This session, we’re working on bills to:

  • Lower class sizes
  • Hire more school psychologists, counselors, instructional assistants, other specialists
  • Increase mental health supports in every school
  • Improve statewide reporting of room clears and disruptive incidents to better understand the number and frequency of these issues

The decrease in salary that Oregon teachers make versus their peers who work in the private sector

Protect and Improve Hard-Earned Benefits for Teachers and Educators

As educators, we work hard and are proud of our public service. Even though many educators earn less than we would in the private sector, we believe in serving our communities. Over many decades, educators have negotiated with our employers for secure retirements, and we’ve often given up raises and other benefits to ensure we’ll be able to retire with dignity.

Oregon’s public employees have already shouldered a major responsibility in making the system more financially sustainable. Current employees are not the cause of the state’s financial woes, and further reductions to their benefits will not solve the problem. Oregon teachers already make 22% less than our peers who work in the private sector.

This legislative session, we are again partnering with coalition organizations to defend against attacks to these hard-earned benefits. OEA will continue to advocate strongly against any losses to educator retirement benefits. We cannot improve schools by losing educators or cutting their compensation.

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