January 17, 2022 - Pre-Session Report
By Anne Nesse
Education Legislative Concepts try to deal with the large workforce shortages in a short 5 weeks of the coming session.
House Education meeting 1/11/22 approved 5 Legislative Concepts as committee bills:
LC 30 establishes a state youth led collaborative for equity in education.
LC 137 the Ethnic Studies bill introduced last session, not funded. We will be the first state to enact this kind of curriculum.
LC 197 attempts to strengthen educational opportunities for school board members, especially newly elected ones, throughout Oregon. Many other states have this and still maintain local control, which will be reviewed as the LC progresses. It also works towards strengthening coordination with superintendents.
LC 198 is a placeholder bill with the Senate to address severe workforce shortages among all public education staff, especially special education, in all areas of the state. It was agreed that shortages existed before the Pandemic, which exacerbated issues, evidenced by high turnover, and over the years continued financial cuts for staffing needed to keep lower class sizes, and increase students’ choice activities. Members of House, Senate, and Workforce Committees agreed it will be a challenge to solve this in the short session. Yet we know it is very important to try. I was privileged to be among the Workforce Committee members, and hope as Sen. Gorsek has stated before in committee, that we need to bring more JOY into public education for every member of our staff positions and all students!
LC 199 is written to increase diversity in the Department of Education, so that it will better reflect our population. Currently 40% of Oregon’s population are people of color. So that we will attempt to increase positions in ODE for people of color, as well as increasing female leadership positions. This will not be a quota system, but an aspirational system. School districts have already adopted this.
Senate Education met 1/12/22, approved 3 Legislative Concepts as committee bills, and heard a presentation on general funding of virtual charter schools, which have experienced NO workforce shortages during this Pandemic.
The virtual charter presentation reminded the committee that online education was not suited for all students or families. They stated a bill this session would increase the cap of 3% for each school district, as many students are on current wait lists. The question of how these students are different, and the flexibility of teacher work schedules, may explain the lack of workforce shortages here?
LC 228 expedites actions of students and parents when there are potential human rights violations or safety issues in a school. It allows students or parents to obtain immediate action from ODE, rather than a sometimes lengthy or complicated process through a school district.
LC 209 protects the state superintendents’ employment rights, especially firing without cause. This bill will protect the superintendent’s ability to follow state directives and laws. Recently 122 superintendents have left their positions, almost half our workforce in these positions.
LC 241 is a funding request for an administrator and staff for part of the Juvenile Detention and Education Program (JDEP), necessary because no funds were allocated for youth departing the detention program.
House Early Childhood met 1/12/22, approved 3 Legislative Concepts as committee bills, and heard reports from Multnomah Co. Preschool for All Program (PFA under website for Multnomah Co.).
Testimony from Leslee Barnes, Director of Preschool for All, confirmed that this Multnomah Co. based tax funded program will not conflict with Head Start or Preschool Promise. There has been high turnover in this field pre-Pandemic and the Covid Pandemic has only increased child care needs everywhere, as many sites have closed. We are talking about 19,000 young children at full implementation of this Multnomah Co. program. And only the administrative part of this program has been designed so far.
Rep. Karin Power recognized that child care providers wages are low compared to other occupations, so we need the Federal Build Back Better Bill investment to help Oregon. Dan Waori, Hunt National Institute on Early Childhood Governance, was hopeful that the child care parts of this Federal bill may still pass, due to the good effects an excellent child care program brings to all of us.
LC 7 Early Learning Division and Care (ELDC) states state child care providers standards, includes disability rights.
LC 104 extends ELDC plan until 2023, based on the delay of Federal funds and automatic sprinkler requirements status.
LC 260 requires more collaboration between tribal and parent groups (technical fix) to establish ELDC work relationships.
Please contact me if you have any questions about legislation that interests you. This is only a partial list. Each individual legislator can propose their own LCs. Rep. Nathanson has written in her newsletter that she will propose decreased school based student testing this session.