Students Share Fears, Offer Educators Ways to Help in Current Climate of Intolerance
Ten students addressed the Oregon Leadership Network Spring Institute on April 5 to talk about their increased fears following the November election. The students represented the Hispanic/Latino, Muslim and LGBTQ communities and all said they feel that more can be done to make schools into safe, comfortable areas for minorities.
Many of the students were in Oregon under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. They said that they are more fearful now because of renewed emphasis on deporting undocumented residents.
“Isn’t a family always supposed to be together?” one student asked. “For the first time I feel scared in my house.” Another was near tears explaining how she had to memorize addresses and phone numbers to contact people in case her parents got picked up by immigration agents. A common refrain from the students was feeling different in Oregon, often being the only Hispanic student in a class. This led to the students feeling targeted and afraid to speak up.
Ways educators can help support students:
As part of the panel discussion, the students also had suggestions for educators on how to help. Having support from teachers, administrators and counselors was very important to all of the panelists. “Talk to us,” one student pleaded. “I can’t come up to you and ask.”
“I don’t want just a couple people to help me, I want to be surrounded by support,” said another.
DACA students, in particular, face barriers when trying to apply for colleges and scholarships. One student, now in college, said that her school counselor didn’t have answers for her about how to get around the obstacles, which was disheartening. Another felt she had to put her dreams of being a missionary nurse on hold because of her immigration status.
The student panel was one part of the conference titled: “Committing to Student Safety, A Call to Action in Uncertain Times.” State Board of Education Chair Charles R. Martinez, Jr. also addressed attendees, focusing his presentation on moving from words to actions. “It is not a political act to support the safety and well-being of our students,” Martinez said. “Silence is not acceptable.”
Martinez said that equity work has to lead to a specific outcome, it can’t just be so we can say we did something. He went on to say that we need to make our values explicit and focus on our public and private actions. “It is essential that we engage in hard discussions,” Martinez said. “Are we going to act, or wait?”
North Clackamas Superintendent – and newly honored National Superintendent of the Year – Matt Utterback shared how he realized the importance of education equity. Meeting with a group of black and Hispanic students, he says what he heard was “raw hurt.” The students said the only lesson in their curriculum about blacks dealt with slavery and that it was hard to go to school with people who don’t look like you.
“We have a responsibility to take action to create more equity in the education environment,” Utterback said. “We must become school systems that embrace change. We can’t be afraid of making mistakes, but we DO need to be afraid of not taking action.”
The conference also included a presentation by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (pictured above). You can read her full remarks, which include many resources for schools by clicking here
ESSA Update: State Plan on Track for May 3 Submittal
Oregon’s draft State Plan
under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was submitted to Governor Kate Brown on April 3, 2017. The State Board of Education will take a final vote on the plan on April 27. Pending expected Board approval, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will submit its final State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education on May 3, 2017.
This draft reflects more than one year of intensive work and collaboration with practitioners, partners, and community members across the state. Central to Oregon’s State Plan and the work ahead are key levers, or opportunities that were generated through the feedback and voices of Oregonians. ODE believes these levers serve as foundational tenets to strengthen and shape our educational systems to better serve Oregon’s students. They include:
1. Prioritizing and Advancing Equity
2. Extending the Promise of a Well-Rounded Education
3. Strengthening District Systems
4. Fostering Ongoing Engagement
Awesome OSCIM: Capital Improvement Matching Program Expected to Exceed $100M Mark
Next month, voters in eight Oregon school districts will go to the polls to decide on bond measures that have an added bonus from the state: matching funds of up to $8 million from the state for each district. If all the bonds pass, it would bring the total amount awarded by the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program to the $125 million mark. OSCIM allows districts to apply for matching funds to make their local tax dollars go further.
The eight districts voting next month are seeking $30.2 million in matching funds for $866 million in capital improvement projects. In May and November of 2016, 23 districts received $94.8 million in matching funds through OSCIM following bond votes totaling $1.4 billion.
“The OSCIM Program has been critical in providing needed funding to improve the quality and safety of Oregon’s schools,” ODE Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Administration Rick Crager said. “It has also been a key factor in contributing to the overall success of local bond campaigns – particularly in areas that have traditionally either not been able to pass a local school bond, or have lacked the ability to finance the entire capital need through a school bond.”
OSCIM-supported bonds have been approved throughout the state (see map) and the economic impact of the 23 projects already approved by voters is an estimated $2.6 billion statewide. OSCIM is funded through the sale of general obligation bonds by the state. If any of the eight districts do not get their bond proposals approved by voters next month, their promised OSCIM funds will go to districts on a waiting list whose local bonds passed.
Time Is Running Out to Win a Fitness Center for Your School!
You undoubtedly know of a school that could use a $100,000 fitness center, so be sure to nominate it for one of three fitness centers to be awarded in Oregon this year by the National Foundation of Governors’ Fitness Council (NFGFC)! Oregon is one of four states chosen to participate in the 2017 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Campaign. Three Oregon schools that demonstrate leadership in helping students become and stay fit will be selected to receive one of the $100,000 fitness centers.
"Our children deserve to lead healthy lives that allow them to learn, play, and grow," Governor Kate Brown said in a press release announcing the call for nominations. "I encourage Oregon schools to apply for this opportunity to help students incorporate physical activity and wellness into their daily lives."
Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. Since 2012, the NFGFC has delivered fitness centers in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The foundation’s goal is to place fitness centers in all 50 states. Nominations are open until June 2.
STEM Leaders Meet to Draw Connections for Students
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Hub leaders from around Oregon met at the Oregon Coast Community College and Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport April 6 and 7 to network and work on common issues. Joined by Oregon Department of Education (ODE) employees, the Chief Education Office and Oregon Solutions staff, the first day was a “roll up your sleeves” workday which included discussions of engaging with private philanthropy on the future of STEM and the role of STEM Hubs.
ODE STEM Education Specialist Deborah Bailey said the meetings are held three times a year to help STEM Hub leaders and partners better understand their role. “The vision of Oregon’s STEM Education Plan is to reimagine and transform how we educate students in order to enhance their life prospects; empower their communities; and build an inclusive, sustainable, innovation-based economy,” Bailey said. “It also recognizes that the challenge facing the state is not simply filling jobs and driving economic growth. More of our students will succeed when the connection between their learning and their future is clear and when there is readily available access to opportunities to adapt and contribute to a rapidly evolving technologically rich society.”
The work of a STEM Hub—to help build connections in a geographic region in order for students to see the relationship between their learning and their future—will help more of all of our students succeed in school.
The second day focused on setting the foundation for advancing equity and supporting region-to-region partnerships amidst a changing landscape. State and national STEM leaders were in attendance and offered STEM Hubs the opportunity to also engage and inform about their work, learnings and needs.
Graduation Honor Seals Available
Graduation is just around the corner! Oregon public school students who obtain a GPA of 3.5 or above are eligible for an honor diploma seal. School registrars are welcome to request diploma seals via phone call, email or fax to the Oregon Department of Education front reception desk. Contact information is provided on the request form which can found on the Oregon Diploma webpage