Legislative Report - Week of 3/20
By Anne Nesse
Governor Kotek leads a detailed informational hearing on the Early Literacy Success Initiative, a combination of HB 3198 and HB 3454, with the goal of reaching 95% literacy in reading and writing in Oregon.
The Governor spoke this week in the House Education Committee on 3/13, followed by Rep. Kropf, whom the Governor had collaborated with. This initiative includes reading and writing in grades K-5. This is a bipartisan Bill, because reading and writing are so fundamental to individual decision making, career learning, and a healthy democracy. Currently 1/2 of Oregon’s kids are not reading at grade level, and we know from research that 95% of these students could be at grade level, because they have the ability. Summer and parent programs are part of the initiative, with plans for this summer. “We know what works, but it will take some time.” You can listen to Gov. Kotek’s speech here. Rep. Kropf spoke of the unfortunate circumstances that occur when students cannot read or write well. He spoke of the high percentage of these students being victims of the criminal justice system, or otherwise having difficulties with employment. Experts in reading and writing education spoke from Stand for Children, Sarah Pope and Johnna Tinnes, with an informative slideshow here on the science of what we want to accomplish with this Bill. The biggest differences among students were shown to be the lack of instructional support during the summer months. This lack of support, compounded the differences among students over the years, who lacked support for developing their literacy in reading and writing. And all of this limits students’ ability to thrive.
On 3/13 HB 3101 A, a Bill requiring panic alarms in all public schools was sent to the floor, and W & M for funding, a recognition of the times we are living in.
Senate Education 3/14 heard public hearings on Sen. Gelser Blouin’s Bills to help create strategies for educating and improving outcomes for students with disabilities. SB 575, SB 923, SB 758, SB 572, and SB 992. This is a complex area, in that not all educational disabilities are alike. Both COSA, and OSBA representatives testified that the way the current Bills were written were difficult to interpret legally by their experts, as to how the goal of improving education for students with disabilities would be improved. And whether the timelines listed in the Bills could be met in every case. I encourage you to study this area more closely, if you are interested, and listen to this entire hearing.
SB 854, requiring each school district to develop a written plan for climate change instruction in grades k-12, within all subject areas, no later than 2026, is now scheduled for a work session on 3/30 in Senate Education. See www.DrawDown.org for ideas you can share that are positive with your legislators. Here is a video on trees and climate change: https://blog.ecosia.org/why-are-trees-so-important/