“As president of the Oregon Parent Teacher Association, I am dedicated to addressing the problems facing our schools. Decades of disinvestment have led to large class sizes, short school years and fewer class offerings. Today, Oregon has one of the worst high school graduation rates in the county. I want a brighter future for our children.” Read more here.


“Oregon mandated the QEM, the quality education model, so many years ago, and we’ve never fully funded it because we gave the legislators an out. We said, ‘If you guys give us a report about why you can’t fund it, that’s good enough.’ That’s not good enough. I think if we are funding our schools statewide to the quality education model, a lot of this stuff kind of goes away.

“When it comes down to it, that’s really, that’s our best shot right now to make this happen is Measure 97,” says Robinson. Read more here. 


Oregon PTA, OEA and Children First for Oregon are calling on the state to address $7.6 billion in deferred maintenance. We need to make sure our schools are safe environments. Oregon PTA Legislative Director, Otto Schell states “When we talk to teachers and parents, we’re hearing the same stories, whether we’re in urban, rural or suburban areas. It’s a real concern—you want to be sure your kids aren’t stepping into a toxic learning environment.” Read the full article and the report.


“Gov. Brown’s endorsement signals that she too believes Measure 97 is the solution we need. And I think that when Oregon voters do their homework, they will come to the same conclusion. With the Governor’s support, we are one important step closer to finally making the investments our state needs. It’s a good day for Oregon kids and families.” – Otto Schell, Oregon PTA Legislative Director

Read Otto’s full comment here. 


Governor Kate Brown announced her position on five ballot measures qualified for the November ballot, including Measure 97 which is a step forward to fund the growing need in public education, healthcare and senior services. You can read more here. 


The Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division is conducting a performance audit of the use of statewide summative assessments, with a focus on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. They are conducting a survey of parents to find out whether Smarter Balanced testing impacts you and your family. Your responses will help them make recommendations on how to make improvements in the system. Please help by filling out this survey. The survey should only take about 5-10 minutes to fill out. The majority of questions are multiple-choice but also provide an opportunity for your additional comments or input in associated comment boxes. For your survey responses to be included in the survey results and analysis in our public report, the survey must be completed by the end of the day on April 18, 2016. Your responses are anonymous. 


Oregon PTA President Brings Greetings at the OSBA Conference

This past weekend I had the pleasure of continuing the long standing partnership between Oregon PTA and the Oregon School Boards Association by bringing greetings to their Sunday breakfast. As my words were well received I’ve decided to share them with you here.

Good Morning!

Let me start the day by saying thank you. Thank you for your long standing partnership with Oregon PTA. Thank you for your commitment to public education. Thank you for the time you spend in your districts across this state. Thank you for having me here today. Thank you!

I came to the Oregon PTA over 8 years ago when the soccer moms, along with my wife, asked me to attend a PTA meeting, which just so happened to be right after soccer practice. As I walked in I quickly realized something was up… it was election night, and I was immediately nominated, and elected, to become a local unit president. Yes, the soccer moms staged a coup. They were disenfranchised with the current board, and they wanted me bring the same leadership I show on the soccer field to the school. Two years later I was nominated by Oregon PTA to be a region director, I got to oversee a dozen PTA units around central Oregon. Just a few years later I was elected the President Elect, and on June 1st of this year I became the first male president of Oregon PTA.

When people outside of PTA think about PTA… the typically have visions of room moms, bake sales, and carnivals. While those things might be historically accurate, todays PTA is so much more. Today’s PTA is about building a family school partnership where parents, teachers, and administrators come together to create a community where kids are given the ability to reach their full potential. Today’s PTA is about training parents to be good advocates for not only their kids, but for all kids. Today’s PTA is about communication, opportunity, empowerment, and responsibility. Today’s PTA is about being engaged at home, in school, and around the community. Today’s PTA is bearded, tattooed and pierced. Today’s PTA is about speaking for every child, with one voice.

Before I came here yesterday I talked to my kids about the Promise of Oregon. Our obligation for them to reach their full potential. You know more than anyone that for years we’ve been asking teachers to do more with less. For my son, a fifth grader, this equates to things like “no haunted house at the harvest festival”, because there just wasn’t time. For years, the fifth grade class has constructed and run a haunted house. It might seem small, but for kids who have been looking forward to this for years it was a tough pill to swallow. At 10 years old, he may not understand that increased class size is effecting his teachers ability to teach, but my daughter, a freshman in high school does… she has classes where there are two students to a desk. Now,  they are both excited about the advances of technology in the classroom, but she consistently mentions that the curriculum is nothing more than scanned pages out of a text book. We can do better. I believe in the Promise of Oregon, but until we fully fund education that promise will remain a dream.

I’m sure we could have a long heated discussion on the best way to fund education, and I’m not going there today. Today I want you to think about engaging parents. I want you to think about what the family school partnership looks like in your districts. Is it welcoming? Is it supporting? Is it empowering parents to be good advocates for their children? Is it collaborating with the community?

PTA can help make all these things happen. Together, we can make these things happen. Together we can make the Promise of Oregon more than just a dream. We can make the Promise of Oregon a reality.

Thank you.


The 2015 Session of the Oregon Legislature ended July 6 and many significant education bills passed.  At the Federal level, your help is needed to contact Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley about ESEA reauthorization.   Following are highlights.

Oregon. 

Education funding

  • Although Oregon PTA and our education partners estimated $7.5B was needed to maintain current service levels, $7.25B was signed into law in April (HB 5017A). A positive revenue forecast added another $105M, and increases from state land board funds and other sources brought the funding to $7.4B.  Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators to increase state school funding.  We will continue our efforts to obtain adequate and stable education funding in future biennia.
  • Early childhood programs are a priority of Governor Brown. Several bills provide for additional investments in Early Learning Hubs, preschool programs, and Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education, (HB 5016, 3380 and SB 5507).
  • Several bills were aimed at preparing students for good jobs. There was increased funding for Science, Technology, Education and Math Hubs, STEM Revitalization and STEM Innovation grants, Career and Technical Education summer programming, and new Career Pathway Fund funding HB 3072, HB 5016, SB 81)
  • Additional resources are allocated ($12.5M every two years) for English Language Learners, and African American and Native American students, in the hopes of improving graduation rates for some of Oregon’s K-12 students (HB 5016, HB 3499).
  • The Oregon PTA testified in favor of SB 447 to provide state matching dollars for local communities to make capital bond investments in their schools. The bill passed on July 6, which means about $300M for school construction.
  • Increased funding for Opportunity grants will provide students greater access to college (HB 2407) and SB 81 provides for community college tuition waiver for persons meeting criteria, starting in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Education reform, assessments, student achievement,

  • The Oregon Education Investment Board was Oregon’s overarching education Board, chaired by the Governor, and responsible for a seamless education system from pre-school through college and Oregon’s ambitious “40-40-20” goals.

Oregon PTA has been active in a Senate work group on SB 215, regarding the OEIB.  The bill abolished the Board but retained a Chief Education Office and Officer (Dr. Nancy Golden), who will coordinate with education stakeholders to establish a unified public education system, remove barriers and focus on equity and transitions to ensure that students reach educational goals.  Achievement compacts will no longer be required.  We continue to be involved in the work group, focusing on student achievement, outcome measures and governance to assure a seamless education system.

  • Beginning next spring, schools will be required to notify families about state testing, including exempting their child for any reason (HB 2655). The US Department of Education requires testing of 95% of students or risk losing federal funding.  Governor Brown signed the bill but said, “”Educators must engage with parents about the value of assessment and the potential consequences if parents opt out and student participation diminishes. We cannot afford to risk losing federal dollars, especially for students who have been traditionally underserved.”
  • Oregon Education Association, Oregon Department of Education, and OEIB collaborated on assessment alternatives. Their reports can be seen here and the feedback is located here.
  • OPTA participated in the forums, and is highly supportive of the proposed changes as a means to empower student learning. SB 418 will help students access appropriate challenges and earn college credit.
  • Several entities collaborated on the OEIB’s 2015 Educator Equity report, with recommendations for closing the gap between the demographics of the K‐12 educator workforce and the students they serve. The report is located here.

Student Data Privacy.  Oregon PTA was active on bills to protect student privacy.

  • Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s innovative SB 187A to protect student information and place restrictions on advertising and selling data re: K-12 students will be effective July 1, 2016.
  • Oregon PTA participated in a state work group leading to several bills sponsored by Rep. Lew Frederick. HB 2715 helps protect dissemination of personally identifiable student data, and became effective July 1.

Healthy, safe kids

  • Oregon PTA provided testimony in favor of SB 941, requiring criminal background checks in transfer of firearms. The Governor signed the bill into law on May 11.
  • HB 2545 provides free lunches to eligible students, beginning in the 2015-16 school year, and will help assure that students can afford lunch so they can focus on learning.
  • HB 2404 adjusts school food and beverage nutritional standards for snacks sold to students to comply with federal standards, effective July 1, 2015.
  • In the 2016-17 school year, Oregon students starting school will be required to have dental screenings (HB 2972).
  • SB 79 requires school district to provide instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and uses of automated external defibrillators, effective July 1, 2015.
  • HB 2661 adds to school drills and instruction on safety threats, procedures for lockdown, lockout, shelter in place and evacuation, effective July 1, 2015.
  • SB 895 requires information regarding immunizations to be made available, with the effect of making make school immunization rates more accessible to parents.  The bill is awaiting signature by the Governor, and takes effect upon passage.

Other

  • SB 321 lowers the compulsory age for school attendance from 7 years old to 6, effective July 1, 2016.

Federal

Implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education/No Child Left Behind Act (which provides equal access to education through Title I programs) has led to what some describe as federal overreach. ESEA reauthorization is a key priority of many education groups, including the National PTA.

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are considering reauthorization bills.  Floor discussion of the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) began July 7, and is expected to continue until next week.  The Senate committee’s summary of the bill is here.

The NPTA is advocating for family engagement amendments. Their statement on the bill is here.

Oregon PTA members received a call to action from NPTA to contact your Senator (Senator Wyden or Merkley).  If you haven’t already done so, please click here.

On July8, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).

Here is the link to the National PTA statement on the House Passage of the Student Success Act: http://www.pta.org/newsevents/newsdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=4504

A Heartfelt “Thank You!”  Oregon PTA thanks Governor Brown, and legislators including Senate Education Chair Senator Arnie Roblan, House Education Chair Rep. Margaret Doherty, and Ways and Means Co-Chairs Senator Richard Devlin and Representative Peter Buckley for their support of public education; our education partners including Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Boards Association, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators for their advocacy; and you, Oregon PTA members.  We look forward to continued collaboration on our shared goals of student achievement, and helping ALL Oregon students fulfill their promise!


A 28 member work group from the Oregon Education Association, Oregon Education Investment Board, and Oregon Department of Education collaborated on a white paper with 12 proposed recommendations to change Oregon’s assessments.  The proposals call for a more balanced approach to assessments, including classroom based and interim assessments to guide teaching.

 

OEA President Hanna Vaandering made a presentation to the Oregon PTA Board in February, and the Board is optimistic about the proposals.  You can view copies of the report here and the recommendations here. Seventeen forums were conducted throughout the state and a workgroup is in the process of finalizing the proposals.