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Standing Together for the Schools Our Students Deserve

2017 OEA RA Report

By OEA Staff

“We will do what we have to do to meet the needs of each and every one of the students we work with!”

— Hanna Vaandering, OEA President

This message from OEA President Hanna Vaandering’s opening address marked the theme for this year’s OEA Representative Assembly. In the past year, there have been many changes in the federal government’s vision for public education; some that threaten its very foundation and leave educators uncertain of the future — for their students and for themselves. Budget cuts looming, new threats to retirement benefits, and the rise of for-profit charter schools are just of few of the things on the minds of teachers and support professionals now. OEA members did not take these new challenges to their profession sitting down. They rose to the occasion and made their voices heard; 24 New Business Items (NBIs) were adopted at this year’s assembly, several of which emphasized the guiding body’s desire to get more involved in political matters. Some examples of the political directives voted on by delegates:

  • A renewed commitment of OEA NBI 20 from the 2016 RA, to include “implementing public education policy to highlight and address discriminatory practices that occur within our statewide systems.”
  • An organized, statewide rally to be held on a Saturday during the 2017-18 school year in support of public education. Locals will be encouraged to hold events in their own districts, and community organizations as well as students and parents will be encouraged to attend. 
  • A stronger focus on organizing strategies and member engagement efforts — like listening campaigns — through NEA's Center for Organizing events
  • A cooperation with local school districts to pass climate education resolutions in order to “provide resources for educators to teach about climate at all grade levels using factual information and research data...”

It was clear from the energy in the enormous hall that Oregon educators are here to fight. There were many heated debates surrounding NBIs, yet members were able to agree on one thing: now is the time to advocate for our schools! 


Over 550 delegates attended the 2017 OEA Representative Assembly (RA). The Red Lion Hotel in Jantzen Beach was full to bursting with nearly every available meeting space occupied by OEA. All gathered on Friday evening to adopt their standing rules, receive reports, and hear candidate speeches, going late into the evening. On Saturday, delegates voted to elect officers to serve as OEA President, OEA Vice President, OEA Region III Vice President, as well as two NEA Directors. Also on Saturday, delegates debated and adopted new business items and amendments to OEA’s Bylaws, Policies, Resolutions, and Legislative Objectives. Refer to the 2017 OEA RA Minutes for full details on debate: oregoned.org/ra.

Reed Scott-Schwalbach, OEA's Vice President elect, addresses the crowd. 


Serving a 2-year term beginning July 10, 2017
John Larson, 
OEA President
Reed Scott-Schwalbach, 
OEA Vice President
Cori Swan, 
OEA Region III Vice President

Serving a 2-year term beginning Sept. 1, 2017
Enrique Farrera, 
NEA Director

Serving a 3-year term beginning Sept. 1, 2017
Jennifer Scurlock, 
NEA Director


Dick Barss/Pat Wohlers Member Rights Award
Tony Whipps, Centennial Education Association
Noel Connall IPD Award
Jenna Schadler, North Clackamas Education Association
Robert G. Crumpton Organizational Excellence Award
Michael Endicott, Grants Pass Education Association
Marilyn Bounds, Bethel Association of Classified Employees

Excellence in Education Award
Jennifer Scurlock, Eugene Education Association
Political Action Award
Travis Overly, Bend Education Association
Kevin Forney Education Support Professional Award
Melinda Adams, Association of Salem-Keizer ESP
Ruth E. Greiner Membership Award
Sue McGrory, Greater Albany Education Association
OEA Retired Lifetime Service Award
Jeanne Mackie, OEA Retired
Stephen Hillis, OEA Retired
Ed Elliot Human Rights Award
Sheila Warren, Founder/President of Portland Parent Union

Education Citizen of the Year
Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. Representative
News Media Award
Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal (Salem)


OEA President Hanna Vaandering recognized the following OEA members with Presidential Citations at the 2017 Representative Assembly:
2017 Teacher of the Year Award
Gloria Pereyra-Robertson, Medford Education Association
2017 Friends of the Foundation Award
Judy Van Scoter, In Memoriam
2017 OEA Great Communicator Award
Benjamin Gorman, Central Education Association
OEA Leadership Award
Karen Ashcraft, Coos Bay Education Association
Debbie Brudevold, Eagle Point Education Association
Matthew Hensley, Astoria Education Association
OEA Advocacy Award
Jen Mohr Colett, Beaverton Education Association
OEA Bargaining Award
Wy’East Education Association
Clackamas Community College Association of Classified Employees
OEA Organizing Award
Evan Selby, Reynolds Education Association
OEA Political Action Award
Don Sterns, Bend Education Association

Newly elected President of the Oregon Education Association John Larson. 


OEA member delegates approved amendments to OEA’s Legislative Objectives, Resolutions, Bylaws, and Policies. They also approved the following New Business Items (NBIs):

NBI 1: that OEA continue to support locals in developing organizing strategies to engage members and their communities through both geographically based trainings and NEA’s Center for Organizing Events. These trainings will include but not be limited to the following topics:
•Working with other labor organizations and community groups.
•Community listening campaigns.
•Bargaining for the common good.

NBI 2: that OEA support the induction of new educators through the following actions:
•  Establish an appropriate taskforce to develop a model framework for a union-led, new educator mentor program.
•  Actively partner with locals to promote activities for new educators. These activities will be designed to educate educators as to the role of the union and opportunities for professional development. 

NBI 3: that the OEA convene a committee to investigate the feasibility of transferring the interest earned every year from the crisis relief fund into the General Fund during years of budget decreases. The OEA president will appoint the members of the committee and will work with the Budget Committee to refine the charge and work plan for the committee. The OEA Executive Director, the crisis relief fund committee chair, and OEA finance officer will advise the committee and provide essential information to the committee essential to its charge. Decrease in budget will be defined as a potential shortfall in dues revenue as compared with the budget of 2015-2016. The committee will make their report to the OEA Board by the December board meeting. In addition, the report will be sent to all 2017 delegates through their home email.

NBI 4: that we [OEA] create a governance structure review task force. The task force should include representation from all regions, as well as a variety of sized locals. The purpose of the task force will be to conduct a review of our structures and present recommendations and/or findings to the OEA RA in 2018. The task force may review previous work of past task forces, as well as NEA recommendations. Preliminary recommendations will be brought to the OEA Board by January 2018.

NBI 6.a.: that OEA locals encourage their school districts and NEA to not accept money from the Gates Foundation and foundations backed by billionaires and corporations attempting to privatize education.    

NBI 7: that OEA advocate to remove or revise developmentally inappropriate standards from K-5 ELA and Math Oregon State Common Standards used in Oregon Classrooms.

NBI 8: that OEA publicly and aggressively advocate for a moratorium on the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Oregon Schools until an appropriate assessment system can be developed and implemented.

NBI 9: that OEA provide monthly updates on the progress of NBIs approved at the Representative Assembly each year.  These updates are to be posted on the OEA web page with an easy to find direct link from the main page.  This page will also include a feedback link so members can ask questions.

NBI 10: that OEA oppose mandating changes to grading policy that groups like the Business Education Compact and iNACOL promote as part of “personalized”/competency education.

Members of Jennifer Scurlock's family, including her two children, look on as she receives the OEA award for Excellence in Education.

NBI 11: OEA continues the work of NEA’s NBI-B and the 2016 OEA RA’s NBI 20 by OEA leadership participating in a committee that will include voices of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and the voices of the majority community, stakeholders and constituents to:
1) Work in conjunction with relevant local and statewide community organizations in an effort to create common language for culturally responsive practices statewide at the district level, school-wide and for the classroom to disrupt institutional racism within our institutions.
2) Examine implementing public education policy to highlight and address discriminatory practices that occur within our statewide systems.

NBI 12: that OEA encourage local affiliates to work with their school boards to pass climate education resolutions in local districts.  The resolutions should commit to providing resources for educators to teach about climate at all grade levels using factual information and research data as we implement the Next Generation Science Standards.

NBI 13: that OEA post on its website a letter template for use as personal character references for parents of students so they may prepare for interactions with ICE, along with a list of resources members can use to assist families in finding legal help for immigration issues.  OEA will also provide a link to Purple DACA’s letters campaign to support students directly.

NBI 14: that OEA conduct a state-wide survey to determine which school districts in Oregon are engaged in “Future Educator” programs like the Salem Keizer Teacher Cadet Program or the Centennial Occupational Teacher Program.  OEA will reach out to leaders in districts with such programs to determine the role the Association can play in recruitment and development of students interested in entering the profession, with particular attention to recruiting students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Furthermore, OEA will explore the possibility of helping locals without such programs develop them.

NBI 15: that OEA publicly and aggressively oppose Oregon’s participation in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) multistate longitudinal data system.

NBI 16: that OEA investigate the steps to creating a state recognized Education Support Professional of the year like the statewide teacher of the year.

NBI 17: that OEA collect data statewide to determine numbers of staff who teach online, in various designations along the spectrum of fully public, to public charter, and privatized charter.

NBI 19:
(Referred to the Special Ed Task Force) for OEA to advocate for an amendment to the OARs regarding special education eligibility names.  Specifically changing Emotional Disturbance to emotional difference, specific learning disability to specific learning difference, and Autism Spectrum disorder to Autism Spectrum development.  This change would only apply to Special education eligibility paperwork and IEPs.

NBI 20:  that OEA promote (email, social media, etc.) and encourage locals to hold simultaneous rallies around the State on a Saturday TBD before the end of the 2017-18 school year to advocate for public education.  Further, I move that OEA conduct outreach to other groups, such as Oregon PTA, to help support and promote these rallies.

NBI 21:
 that the OEA President write a letter to our congressional delegation urging them to continue the process of normalization of relations between our country and Cuba.  They should also be urged to work on ending the economic embargo on the Cuban people.

NBI 23:  that OEA explore:
1) the path forward to changing existing laws and contract language that prevents us from going on strike (or other work stoppages) at the state level.
2) how far we can push the envelope with statewide actions without violating current labor law.

NBI 24:
 the OEA RA renew NBI #7 from last year “that OEA work with its coalition partners (including 350.org and other environmental groups) to lobby the Oregon Investment Council and the State Treasurer to divest the Public Employee Retirement System from stocks and funds that are in fossil fuels.  They should pay particular attention to all coal investments and the top 200 largest fossil fuel companies. They should do this in accordance with their fiduciary responsibilities.”

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