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February 2022 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill

ODE Director Colt Gill 

During Black History Month, my approach to celebration is taking the form of deep reflection on how our department and schools are showing up for Black students and educators. Oregon has made strides towards this goal in recent years, but we also face immense challenges. To truly honor Black history, brilliance, and joy, there must be an equal measure of widespread acknowledgement and real repair.

Now is an important time to take note that Black and Brown educators and administrators are leaving their profession as they experience burnout. A new poll shows that 55% of teachers around the U.S. say they will leave teaching sooner than they had originally planned - with 62% of Black teachers and 59% of Hispanic teachers planning to leave earlier than intended. The Coalition of Oregon School Administrators recently released a study called “Exploring the Lived Experiences of Superintendents of Color in Oregon,” written by researchers and educational practitioners Dr. Tanisha Tate Woodson, Dr. Destiny McLennan and Dr. Karen Perez of Education Northwest.

As our districts face a range of staffing shortages amidst the pandemic, recruitment, retention, and support for educators and administrators of color is of heightened importance. Also, policy change can ensure greater protections and privacy, as well as accountability if discriminatory practices occur against public employees of color.

We remain steadfast in our goals to reach education equity for African American/Black students, staff and families:
  1. Moving the African American/Black Student Success Plan forward in partnership with the African American/Black Student Success Advisory Group and grantees, through the leadership of new Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives, Deb Lang.
  2. We have further systemized an actively anti-racist and anti-colonial approach by using our equity stance and equity decision tool in the decisions we make while examining the racism embedded in the very structures in which we do our work.
  3. Engage policies and practices that support the hiring, retention and success of a diverse staff and create a culture of belonging so that ODE and the education field can attract and retain educators and staff of color.
  4. Set clear standards to establish a responsive learning environment and conditions for building trust instead of furthering hate when bias incidents occur in schools through both proposed legislation and rulemaking of the State Board of Education, as well as training and guidance to districts.
  5. Back up our plans, policies and goals by seeking legislative investments in the state budget, particularly towards the Student Success Act and to provide greater resources and guidance for culturally responsive and historically accurate curriculum and creating welcoming and inclusive school environments.

Last year during Black History Month, we wrote: “Silence and inaction allow racism to remain prevalent in our schools. We declare that ‘Black Lives Matter’ in order to communicate that the lives of all Black students, educators, staff, and community members, matter and are valued.” Not just this month, but year round, we renew our commitment to supporting schools and districts as they engage in policy and practices towards racial equity throughout Oregon.

Thank you for your hard work and openness to the changes our education system needs — for the benefit of our students.

About Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson was a scholar whose dedication to celebrating the historic contributions of Black people led to the establishment of Black History Month, marked every February since 1976. Woodson fervently believed that Black people should be proud of their heritage and all Americans should understand the largely overlooked achievements of Black Americans.

Woodson worked as a teacher and a school principal before obtaining a bachelor's degree in literature from Berea College in Kentucky. After graduating from college, he became a school supervisor in the Philippines and later traveled throughout Europe and Asia. In addition to earning a master's degree from the University of Chicago, he became the second Black American after W.E.B. Du Bois to obtain a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He joined the faculty of Howard University, eventually serving as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

After being barred from attending American Historical Association conferences despite being a dues-paying member, Woodson believed that the white-dominated historical profession had little interest in Black history. He saw African-American contributions "overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them."

For Black scholars to study and preserve Black history, Woodson realized he would have to create a separate institutional structure. With funding from several philanthropic foundations, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 in Chicago, describing its mission as the scientific study of the "neglected aspects of Negro life and history." The next year he started the scholarly Journal of Negro History, which is published to this day under the name Journal of African American History.

Woodson's devotion to showcasing the contributions of Black Americans bore fruit in 1926 when he launched Negro History Week in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson's concept was later expanded into Black History Month.

Woodson died from a heart attack at the age of 74 in 1950. His legacy lives on every February when schools across the nation study Black American history, empowering Black Americans and educating others on the achievements of Black Americans.

Throughout the course of his life, Woodson published many books on Black history, including the A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1919), The History of the Negro Church (1921), and The Negro in Our History (1922).

See more at NAACP History Explained.

Oregon Adjusts Quarantine and Isolation Periods for Child Care

Oregon is adjusting guidance for quarantine and isolation periods from 10 days to five days in licensed child care settings only if an entire classroom or group wears masks. The change was made after the Centers for Disease Control announced new guidance for child care settings on January 28, 2022.

The Early Learning Division, in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), highly recommends all individuals ages two and older wear masks. All individuals who are kindergarten-age and older are required to wear masks. If an entire classroom or group does not wear masks, quarantine and isolation remains at 10 days.

There are several factors that influence the difference between child care and school guidance.

“Protection through a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for the youngest children,” said Oregon Health Authority Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “While masks are recommended for all individuals two years old and up, there are child care sites where children under age five do not wear masks.

“The nature of interactions in these settings results in prolonged and often close contact. Masking helps to decrease the risk of spread and allow for a shorter return after illness or exposure into these settings with low rates of vaccination overall, especially with the high amounts of community spread throughout Oregon,” he said.

There is a lot more information available about the guidance change including Frequently Asked Questions about isolation and quarantine in child care posted on the ELD’s “For Providers” webpage and the “For Families” webpage. The “Child Care Provider COVID-19 Recommendations and Requirements” guidance document has been updated and can be downloaded as well. Child care providers with questions can contact their licensing specialist or email ProviderContact@ode.oregon.gov.


Black History Resources and Lesson Plans

Districts Celebrating Black History Month on Social Media

Here are some great examples of social media messages from school districts celebrating Black History Month:

EAC Update

National School Counseling Week

National School Counseling Week 2022, "School Counseling: Better Together," is happening this week from Feb. 7-11, 2022. This week focuses attention on the unique contributions of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors have in supporting students' mental health and well-being, academic achievement and career planning for their future.

Please view Oregon's Proclamation for 2022.

Celebrate by accessing ASCA's promotional materials and documents here. Be sure to use #NSCW2022 for social media communication.

ODE In the News

Student Spotlight