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February 7, 2022 - Week 1

Back to Full Legislative Report

Education Portfolio, Anne Nesse

HB 4124-1 LWVOR supports this new way of looking at educational assessments in Oregon. The Bill was presented by Rep. Nathanson and Rep. Weber starting at about 4PM in the House Education Committee, see video.

Reading some of the other testimony gives you the best picture of the issues. Many pointed to anxiety and feelings of low self-worth created within children and youth by the public school system administering too many tests. We know from research, as stated in the meeting, that the best testing yields actual information to the instructional process for teachers and students, and helps to create the joy of lifelong learning. Several educators testified that Oregon is a culturally diverse state and we know that this study of best practices for assessment (from pre-K through grade 12) is now 20 years overdue. It will be interesting to review this committee’s work as it proceeds to its first reports by September 2023, and final reports due by May, 2024, a longer process than might be hoped for.

SB 1583 Sen. Frederick presented this similar bill in Senate Education, outlining an ODE procedure to decrease state testing to a minimum by requesting a waiver of some federal requirements, particularly changing testing to a sampling of students rather than a comparison of students, as an emergency bill. He mentioned many other more valid ways to assess students to offer more information to teachers and students, while retaining excellence in education.

The Early Childhood Committee met to discuss Committee Bills in informational hearings. The takeaway was that child care is in a crisis of short supply in Oregon, all over the state, primarily due to median wages of even some well-educated caregivers being below minimum wage, and well below the level for child care workers to support themselves. These facts create particular difficulties for struggling families who cannot afford to pay a higher wage to childcare providers. This also contributes to some workforce shortages for lack of childcare.

HB 4005 extends the transition to the Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) from the Early Learning Division. The fiscal impact is not yet listed, some from federal funds and some from the general fund. Eventually this bill will ask for $30M for startup grants, and $22M in wage enhancements. Relief Nurseries are asking for $2.8M.

SB 1521 in Senate Education on Thursday, authorizes district school boards to terminate superintendents without cause only if certain conditions are met. Prohibits the district school board from taking specified actions against the superintendent when the superintendent is acting in compliance with state or federal law. See LWVOR testimony in support.

This new law will not prevent school boards from terminating superintendents without cause if the contract between parties was mutually agreed upon to allow that. But this legislation is the start of clarifying contracts with school employees, to increase more secure employment in all our school districts, as stated by Sen. Dembrow. We have a large number of school employment vacancies in Oregon and all over the U.S., from bus drivers, to special education aides, and substitute teachers,from before the Pandemic, and increasingly thereafter. Some vacancies are due to low wages, but secure and adaptable contracts are also known to show respect for our school employees.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions, or want to help lobby on some of these interesting educational issues:

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