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Our path is not an easy one

By Hanna Vaandering, OEA President

President's Column

A new year often brings with it the hope of new beginnings and an air of hopefulness. The beginning of 2017, how- ever, has reminded us that elections have consequences. The 2016 Presidential Election and the first five weeks of the new administration certainly have had and will continue to have consequences for public education and millions of students and educators across the nation. We have seen incidences of bullying and hate increase in our schools and on our campuses; in fact, Oregon has had the 10th most incidents in the nation. Our students deserve so much better and we are here to help. Often, school is the only place in our students’ lives where they feel safe, and our students need to know that school will continue to be a refuge in the storm. To that end, we have posted updated information on our website on how to support our students as well as draft resolutions for your local school board to consider. We have much work to do to ensure that every student in Oregon has access to the quality education they deserve.

Further exacerbating the threat to public education, the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was a clear sign that the current administration has no intentions of supporting public education. In fact, DeVos’s clear lack of qualifications for this position demonstrates a total disregard for public education and those students in most need.

Often, school is the only place in our student's lives where they feel safe. Our students need to know that school will continue to be a refuge in the storm.

The confirmation process was just as alarming. Many senators disregarded over a million calls and emails pleading for them to vote 'no' on the nomination of an individual with no experience in public education and a long history of advocating for vouchers and the privatization of public education. The tie-breaking vote by the Vice President was once again a signal that this administration is not interested in listening to educators and parents when it comes to public education policy.

With all of this, the new year still brings me hope. Hope that we can build the Schools our Students Deserve and hope that we can grow the strength of our Union to meet the challenges ahead. Our path is not an easy one, but, our path is the one that is lined with the core values our members adopted and in which they believe so strongly. We shall persist in our pursuit of great public schools for all students and continue to resist against forces that would under- mine our democracy. Thank you for all you do every day for students across this great state.

In Solidarity,

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