561,000 Reasons to Support Superintendents of Color in Oregon
The following is a guest column written by ODE Director Colt Gill, Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission Executive Director Anthony Rosilez, Oregon Educator Advancement Council Interim Executive Director Daniel Ramirez, Oregon School Boards Association Executive Director Jim Green and Coalition of Oregon School Administrators Executive Director Craig Hawkins that appeared in the Bend Bulletin.
Oregon’s public schools are more diverse now than at any other time in our history, but the number of superintendents of color in our state is not just stagnant, it is in a highly concerning free-fall. Only a handful of the 197 school districts in the state of Oregon are led by superintendents of color, and we believe this is a serious problem.
In recent years, student demographics have continued to shift in Oregon. Today, nearly 2 of every 5 students (38.5%) are racially, ethnically and/or linguistically diverse. There are 25 districts in Oregon where students of color make up the majority of their schools’ population. Meanwhile, the composition of our educator and administrator workforce is changing very slowly. The 2020 Oregon Educator Equity Report shows that just 11.7% of teachers and 12.5% of administrators are racially, ethnically and/or linguistically diverse. This disparity is glaring in the ranks of our school superintendents. After five departures this spring, less than 5% of Oregon superintendents today are leaders of color. Put another way, Oregon now has so few superintendents of color that they could all ride together in one vehicle.
Why does this matter? Because these numbers indicate a frightening trend that will not benefit students, educators or communities. And this lack of visible representation conveys a perception that Oregon is not a welcoming or supportive environment for leaders of color, making it even more challenging to recruit, support or encourage educational leaders to consider the superintendent role. Decades of research provide data about the positive impacts of educator diversity on academic achievement and social and emotional development for students of color and tribal students, as well as their white peers. Studies show that students of color benefit from higher teacher expectations and from seeing members of their own race/ethnicity as role models in respected professions. Our experience in Oregon has demonstrated that districts led by superintendents of color attract a more diverse educator workforce and welcome otherwise -unheard community voices in district decision-making.
But today, our school boards are challenged to find and keep leaders that reflect the makeup of our schools. Our school communities — and the organizations we lead — are challenged to support and retain leaders of color. For this to change, we have to change. We need to change our systems, our behaviors and our approaches. Our students need leadership who directly reflect their identities, and we need both immediate and sustainable long-term solutions. It’s imperative that school districts communicate a goal to hire leaders of color, and prioritize their support and success. School boards have a specific role and responsibility here, given that superintendents are their one and only employee to directly support, supervise and evaluate.
The Oregon Department of Education, the Oregon School Boards Association, the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission and the Oregon Educator Advancement Council commit to immediately commission a study to examine the difficulties Oregon is facing in recruiting, hiring and retaining superintendents of color. The study will identify what factors contribute to their successes or career challenges as well as recommendations for change and improvement.
Also important is Senate Bill 334, which requires equity and governance training for school boards. We encourage the Legislature to pass this important legislation. These actions, and the hiring decisions around them, will have significant repercussions for students. We have nearly 561,000 students in our K-12 schools. That’s 561,000 reasons to get this right.
2021-2023 African American/Black Student Success Plan Grant Request for Applications (RFA)
The Oregon Department of Education, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is pleased to announce the release of the Request for Applications for the 2021-2023 African American/Black Student Success Plan Grant.
The purpose of the grant is to support culturally specific community-based organizations, early learning hubs, providers of early learning services, school districts, post- secondary institutions of education and/or collaborations who are working to design, implement, improve, expand or otherwise revise programs and services for African/African American/Black/African Diaspora students and families.
The programs and services provided will:
- Assist African/African American/Black/African Diaspora students to develop a range of knowledge and skills that will lead to successful student outcomes in educational achievement;
- Address issues such as disproportionate discipline, attendance, chronic absenteeism and early childhood to elementary, middle to high school and high school to post- secondary transitions; and
- Include a variety of supports including the involvement of parents and communities across the state.
All materials and details are posted in the
Oregon Procurement Information Network (ORPIN) under Notice # ODE-1172-21. You must be registered to log in and download the materials. Use the “Browse Opportunities” menu and select “Advanced Search”.
More information on the RFA and how to apply are available on the ODE website.
Study Shows Oregon is Child Care Desert
A new report from Oregon State University shows that as of March 2020, all 36 counties in Oregon qualify as child care “deserts” for infants and toddlers — meaning that there are at least three children under the age of 2 for every available child care slot in the county.
Researchers say the report, based on data collected prior to COVID-19, will serve as a useful baseline to highlight how the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges facing Oregon families with small children.
“This report confirmed what families understand: There’s not enough child care, period, but there’s really a crisis when it comes to infant and toddler slots,” said Megan Pratt, an assistant professor of practice in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the report. Michaella Sektnan at OSU was her co-author.
The report builds on Pratt’s 2019 comprehensive look at Oregon child care, which showed a similar landscape: All 36 counties were child care deserts for the 0-2 age group, while 25 counties were deserts for kids ages 3-5.
The biennial reports are funded via the state’s Early Learning Division as part of the
Oregon Child Care Research Partnership with the purpose of informing state policymakers on the current status of Oregon’s child care supply, particularly the dearth of options for infants and toddlers and the role played by publicly funded programs in filling those gaps, especially in rural areas.
The new report found that while the state’s total amount of state-licensed child care increased by 588 slots from 2018-2020, and the estimated number of children under the age of 5 declined by about 13,000, statewide, Oregon’s child care supply remains limited. Twenty-five of Oregon’s 36 counties are also deserts for preschool kids ages 3-5, and for infants and toddlers ages 0-2, half of Oregon’s counties qualify as “extreme” deserts, with, at most, one child care slot for every 10 children in that age group.
The numbers show public investment plays a key role in expanding the child care supply in Oregon. Between 2018 and 2020, increased state funding led to an additional 817 publicly funded child care slots across the state, part of the overall growth. Publicly funded slots now account for 19% of Oregon’s total child care supply.
“This report highlights why Oregon needs to continue to invest in child care and focus on strategies that build our supply of affordable, high-quality child care and ensure our existing programs are supported,” said Alyssa Chatterjee, Oregon’s acting learning system director in the Early Learning Division. “Many families are struggling to access high-quality child care, and we can’t wait to address the issue.”
The report culled data from various sources, including regulatory databases for licensing information on child care providers throughout the state, and Oregon’s Early Learning Division, which administers public programs such as Head Start, Preschool Promise and Baby Promise.