Media Room

JUNE 30, 2015

I’d like to thank all of you for being here. It is great to see parents and students, and the diverse voices of leadership who are making a difference for education in our great state.

As I said at my State of the State Address after I took office a few months ago, as your Governor, I am committed to closing the opportunity gap for each and every student in Oregon. 

A critical piece of this strategy is continuing to build a seamless pathway of learning for every student, from cradle to career. 

In this pursuit, we must remain vigilant in identifying the gaps and systematic barriers to learning faced by students and families who speak a language other than English at home. And, in keeping with the high standards we must hold ourselves to as a state, we must be accountable and transparent.

It should be said that students who are learning a second language or even a third language, whatever it may be, are assets in our communities. In Oregon, 450 students from seven districts and one charter school will graduate with the first-ever Oregon Biliteracy Seal, which recognizes the value they bring to their schools and communities by speaking multiple languages.

In signing HB 3499 into law today, we are on the path to achieving these objectives and supporting better outcomes for students for whom English is a second language.

The legislation I sign into law today will put in place for the first time: 

A system of supports and interventions for school districts that ensure, wherever an emergent bilingual student attends school in Oregon, the right practices, resources and tools will be in place to support their success.

A requirement that school districts use uniform budget coding and reporting to ensure resources are being optimized by every school district to support the success of emergent bilingual students.

Lastly, this law sets up further strategy-setting over the long term to ensure the successful transition of these students who are becoming bilingual as they advance out of these programs.  

I want to commend Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden, Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton, and my policy staff for their early leadership on this issue.  

I want to thank the legislative leaders -- the bill’s author Rep. Joe Gallegos, Speaker Kotek and her staff, Rep. Gene Whisnant, and Rep. Jessica Vega-Pedersen – who were instrumental in passing this legislation.  

And last but not least, I want to express my gratitude to the community leaders and education organizations that collaborated to achieve a law that I anticipate will be seen as a watershed moment for education in our state; one where we gave new focus to the needs of Oregon students who are becoming bilingual, and demonstrating how cooperation can provide the opportunity for each student to reach her or his full potential.   

Thank you all.