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June 2021 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

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

ODE Director Colt Gill recorded the below video for the Class of 2021.

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.

Happy Pride Month!

LGBTQ2SIA+ Pride Month is commemorated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City. In 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn staged an uprising to resist the harassment and persecution commonly faced by LGBTQ2SIA+ Americans. Stonewall is recognized as a significant event in the movement to raise awareness and eliminate discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ2SIA+ Americans.

As with all of the history/culture/heritage months, the acknowledgment and celebration of traditionally underrepresented groups should be integrated throughout the year. The calendar designation helps to remind us of a need for intentional inclusion. Resources for teaching:

The social science standards are designed to create a deep understanding and appreciation for the history, economics, geography, civic structures and values that shape our world. Establishing and securing civil rights is a central thread in U.S. History and civic knowledge and engagement are fundamental to a thriving democracy.

Oregon Adopts Juneteenth Holiday

House Bill 2168 declared June 19th a state holiday. Juneteenth is a commemoration of the date in 1865 when Union troops reached Galveston Bay, Texas, and told the enslaved African-Americans there that they, along with the more than 250,000 other enslaved Black people in the state, were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

The first celebration of the anniversary came the following year and it spread throughout Texas and many southern states until the start of the 20th Century when Jim Crow laws were passed, essentially making African-Americans second-class citizens in their own country.

Learning for Justice features additional guidance on the learning themes celebrating Juneteenth.

Oregon Teacher of the Year Program Celebrates 16 Regional Winners

On May 20, the Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, announced Oregon’s 2022 Regional Teachers of the Year! Oregon teachers bring their ingenuity, flexibility, encouragement and expertise to classrooms every day in support of their students. During this global pandemic, teachers have overcome constant challenges requiring transitioning instructional models, developing new ways to create important student connections, learning new teaching platforms and so much more.

“Throughout this year of navigating countless challenges and demands, Oregon educators have consistently come through for Oregon’s students,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “It is with deep gratitude that we celebrate these 16 Regional Teachers of the Year from across the state!”

Oregon educators were identified through a regional application and selection process facilitated by local Education Service Districts. Applicants submitted testimonials and letters of support and were assessed on leadership, instructional expertise, commitment to equity, community involvement, understanding of educational issues, professional development and vision by a diverse panel of regional representatives.

Each Regional Teacher of the Year will receive a $500 award from the Oregon Lottery, and is automatically considered for the honor of 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year which will be announced this fall.

“The Oregon Lottery is honored to be a part of this great program to recognize outstanding Oregon educators,” said Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack. “Teachers are the foundation-builders for the future. Thanks to their teachers’ hard work, passion, and dedication, students across Oregon are prepared to realize their dreams.”

Congratulations to our 2022 Oregon Regional Teachers of the Year!

  • Whitney Barnes, Vale Elementary School, Kindergarten, Vale School District
  • Rachelle Bell, Takena-Central Elementary School, 3rd grade, Greater Albany Public Schools
  • Wes Crawford, Sutherlin High School, Agricultural Science, Sutherlin School District
  • Jim Donnelly, Hood River Valley High School, English Language Arts, Hood River School District
  • Jandy Eskew, South Baker Intermediate School, 5th grade, Baker School District
  • Jennifer Hampel, North Bend High School, Science, North Bend School District
  • Kerryn Henderson, Parkrose High School, Biology, Parkrose School District
  • Ricci Huling, Agnes Stewart Middle School, Math/Arts, Springfield School District
  • Ronda Johnson, Nellie Muir Elementary School, 1st grade, Woodburn School District
  • Lois MacMillan, Grants Pass High School, Social Studies, Grants Pass School District
  • Jill Plant, Warm Springs K-8 Academy, Music, Jefferson County School District
  • Carrie Sullivan, Dayville School, grades 3-5, Dayville School District
  • Lori Therrien, Oak Hills Elementary School, Special Education, Beaverton School District
  • Ethelyn Tumalad, Clackamas High School, English Language Arts, North Clackamas School District
  • Steve Wetherald, Bend Senior High School, Special Education, Bend-La Pine School District
  • Carolyn Whitney, Frenchglen Elementary School, grades K-8, Frenchglen School District

Additional information on the program can be found on the Oregon Teacher of the Year website.

OSCIM Program Continues to Help Districts with Construction Projects

Last month, four school districts around the state passed bond measures that got a boost from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program. Commitments are made to districts ahead of the election so districts can inform their communities of the potential for additional funds from the state if the local bond passes. Before submitting an application for the OSCIM Program, districts must also submit a Facilities Assessment and Long-Range Facility Plan. Districts are awarded grants based on their position on the Priority List or First in Time List.

Since the first round of grants in 2016, the OSCIM program has awarded $329,014,563 in matching funds that added to $5.9 billion in bonds approved by voters. Here are the districts receiving matching funds following successful bond elections last month:

Local Bond Amount OSCIM Match
Baker SD 5J $4,000,000 $4,000,000
Clatskanie SD 6J $10,000,000 $4,000,000
Ione SD R2 $7,522,867 $4,000,000
Wallowa SD 12 $7,000,000 $4,000,000

ODE In the News

Student Spotlight

Educator Advancement Council Update

The latest newsletter from the Educator Advancement Council (EAC) is full of great new and continuing work. Read about: