Today's OEA Spring/Summer 2019

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This spring, we made history for Oregon's students and schools


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CONTENTS / Spring/Summer2019 VOLUME 93 : ISSUE NO. 2



12 Departments President’s Column


By John Larson, OEA President


06 / Events for OEA Members Newsflash On the Cover

18 / oregon goes red: a photo essay

This spring, across our state, we stood in union for our students, our communities, and our future. By Jenny Smith


14 / ‘Student Success Act’ to Change Oregon’s Education Landscape

A behind-the-scenes look at how the act came to fruition. By Laurie Wimmer

07 /mental health services gap hurts students 09 / national recognition for esps Politics & You

10 / oea 2019 legislative Priorities GPS

11 / NEA Micro-credentials

26 /Resilience Takes Root

Eye on Equity

32 / Calming the storm

Association in Action

In trying times, finding solutions to support educator wellness and resiliency is key to helping students and schools thrive. By Meg Krugel

Disrupted learning environments continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing Oregon educators. Across the state, schools are creating space for students to build the social and emotional skills they need to be learning-ready. By Milana Grant

12 / Courageous Community Conversations 30 / OEA-RA 2019 Highlights On the Web

34 / #REDFORED - Our stories

ON THE COVER: A student rallies to fund his school at the State Capitol on May 8. PhotO by Meg Krugel

Credits: Left: Lightbox Studios; Right: Thomas Patterson



PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE / Spring/Summer 2019 John Larson OEA President

President John Larson fires up the crowd assembled at Pioneer Courthouse Square on April 10. The "Take it to the MAX" event gathered hundreds of edcuators from the Portland metro-area.


he 2018-19 year began with much uncertainty as OEA embarked on its first foray into a Union Optional environment since the 1970’s. As local by local began reporting membership numbers, however, it quickly became clear that OEA would remain as strong as ever, and as the year would prove, become even stronger. In the Spring of 2018 and into 2019, OEA members came together in forums across the state to begin to address the phenomenon of Disrupted Learning, a situation where unaddressed social and emotional needs of students had manifested in sometimes violent behaviors that were causing unsafe learning and working conditions in our schools. Though this was prevalent in schools across the state, OEA was the first statewide organization to begin taking action to improve learning for all students. Hundreds of educators at fourteen statewide forums and more than 1,000 online participants provided the information that resulted in OEA’s report "A Crisis of Disrupted Learning.” No research study can solve a problem, but the report has been the catalyst for action across the state. The report and its recommendations are being used by ESPs, teachers, administrators, school boards, and the department of education, not only in Oregon, but across the nation.

A Crisis of Disrupted Learning recommended many possible solutions to resolve the problem of dysregulated behavior, but most of these came with a steep price tag. This served to highlight the severe underfunding extant in Oregon schools, and OEA members, who had been telling this story to legislators for years, took this message to the street. On Feb. 18, more than 5,000 educators took marched in Salem to demand more money for public education. When the Ways and Means Committee responded by proposing a cuts budget for education, more than 30,000 educators turned out on May 8 to demand revenue reform….and WE WON! The Student Success Act promises $2 billion per biennium in sustainable revenue dedicated to public schools, which is an historic victory. But we cannot rest. Opponents of the bill are gearing up to refer it to the ballot where we will have to fight, once again, to ensure we invest in our students. While it appears the legislature is poised to pass at least a current service level budget for higher education, there is still much work to be done to ensure we invest here as well. The struggle has been long and difficult, and there is still much to do, but I want to thank all OEA members for making 2018-19 the most meaningful and productive year of my 29 years in education. Onward OEA!




UPCOMING Spring/Summer 2019




NEA Representative Assembly


n What: NEA Representative Assembly is the primary legislative and policymaking body

of the Association and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership. The Representative Assembly adopts the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the Legislative Program, and other policies of the Association. Delegates vote by secret ballot on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws. Those delegates with full voting rights elect the executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors, as appropriate. n Where: Houston, TX n how: Find out more by visiting July 30-August 1, 2019

Summer Conference n What: In 2019, OEA members took action to demand improvements for education in Oregon

like never before. From our buildings to our school boards to the state capitol, we have made it clear that we are ready to stand up and fight for what we know is right. Join us this summer as we build on this momentum and lay plans for the 2019-2020 school year. n Where: Bend, OR n how: Visit for more details and to add your name to the waitlist. Multiple dates

National Board Certification JumpStart Seminars n What: The Oregon Education Association is offering Jump Start Seminars, led by Oregon

National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), to assist OEA and WEA members in pursuit of certification. This four-day comprehensive seminar is designed to provide National Board candidates with important information about the certification process, time to examine component and Assessment Center requirements, the opportunity to plan how to meet requirements, and time to collaborate, gather resources and information needed to pursue certification. n Where: Multiple locations statewide n how: Check out to find a session near you!

OFFICE HEADQUARTERS 6900 SW Atlanta Street Portland, OR 97223 Phone: 503.684.3300 FAX: 503.684.8063 PUBLISHERS John Larson, President Jim Fotter, Executive Director EDITOR Meg Krugel PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Milana Grant CONTRIBUTORS Milana Grant, Jenny Smith, Laurie Wimmer, Thomas Patterson To submit a story idea for publication in Today’s OEA magazine, email editor Meg Krugel at PRINTER Morel Ink, Portland, OR TODAY’S OEA (ISSN #0030-4689) is published two times a year as a benefit of membership by the Oregon Education Association, 6900 SW Atlanta Street, Portland OR 97223-2513. Non-member subscription rate is $10 per year. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, OR. POSTMASTER Send address corrections to: Oregon Education Association Membership Processing 6900 SW Atlanta Street Portland, OR 97223-2513 DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Francesca Genovese-Finch



Newsflash Aspiring Educators at OSU Build Momentum


ecently, OEA's Aspiring Educators Club at Oregon State Unviersity hosted a student-led conference to provide a place for critical engagement around pressing issues in education as a way to supplement the students’ coursework in education. Students met in teams to talk about the impact of issues on their future careers. The conversation resulted in a day-long event, to take place in the near future, that will bring in two Ethnic Studies professors, one Human Development and Family Sciences professor, a Special Education teacher, an Education professor and two other Education Professionals who will all bring a variety of experiences and share with aspiring educators their knowledge on an array of topics. The upcoming conference will cover the privatization of public schools, the school to prison pipeline, interview tips for future teachers, special education, working with LGBTQ+ students, and the influence of capitalism in education. The conference hopes to draw around 75 people to learn about and discuss these important topics, as well as to engage with each other to strengthen the community of people going into Education and related fields at OSU.

May 8: At-a-Glance


Mental health issues in our schools: more than 7 percent of students suffer from anxiety.

Mental health services gap leaves many students suffering


ducators nationwide have taken massive action in the past year to draw attention to the current school funding crisis facing our schools. One of the chief concerns echoed by many is the lack of mental health services available to their students. According to a study published by The Journal of Pediatrics, over 7 percent of students age 3-17 are experiencing anxiety. 7.4 percent are reported to have behavior and conduct issues. The correlation is obvious to anyone who has worked in an education setting. But there is a widening gap in the level of services that students with anxiety are receiving compared with the services received by the smaller number of students who are experiencing depression. Of the 3.7 percent of students with depression, 78 percent have received some kind of treatment, while only 59 percent of students with anxiety have received treatment. Students with untreated anxiety are at a much greater risk of developing depression later in life. As schools continue to face inadequate funding, the number of counselors, school psychologists, and other mental health service providers has diminished, leaving many students to fall through the cracks.





2 Billion

Educators, families, and community allies participated in actions statewide

#RedforEd signs and buttons printed

Schools closed in support

Action sites

dollars to fund Oregon’s schools!



Newsflash DID YOU KNOW? » Today’s OEA’s best story ideas come from you, our readers! Is your school working on a cutting edge concept, or do you know an educator who should be featured? Email your suggestions for articles to

Portland students rally for climate change curriculum

D Oregon's 2019 Teacher of the Year, Keri Pilgrim Ricker, is a CTE Teacher at Churchill High School in Eugene.

Oregon's Teacher of the Year program celebrates 13 regional teachers


ast month, 13 educators from across the state were honored by Oregon’s Teacher of the Year program, which expanded last year to include the celebration of exemplary educators from every region of the state. “Today’s educators must be equipped with more skills than ever before to meet the unique and important needs of each student they serve,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said. “Recognizing these outstanding regional teachers is a privilege and their commitment to the calling of teaching deserves our thanks.” Each Regional Teacher of the Year will receive a $500 award from the Oregon Lottery, and is automatically considered for the honor of 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in September. Applicants were assessed on leadership, instructional expertise, community involvement, understanding of educational issues, professional development and vision by a diverse panel of regional representatives. Awardees include:  Dave Case, Hood River Valley High School, Social Studies, Hood River School District  Susie Chaney, Reedsport Community Charter School, Mathematics, Reedsport School District  Manda Currier, Buff Elementary School, Special Education, Jefferson School District  Katelyn Dover, John Tuck Elementary School, First Grade, Redmond School District  Joshua Dunnell, Farm Home School, Mathematics, Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District  Jon Fresh, Westview High School, Special Education, Beaverton School District  Renee Klein, Marcola School District, Special Education  Tia McLean, Helman Elementary School, Kindergarten, Ashland School District  Mercedes Muñoz, Franklin High School, Special Education, Portland Public Schools  TJ Presley, Pilot Rock Jr./Sr. High School, Mathematics, Pilot Rock School District  Charles Sanderson, Woodburn Wellness, Business and Sports School, Language Arts, Woodburn School District  Janel Sorenson, Sutherlin Middle School, Science, Sutherlin School District  Alissa Tran, Molalla High School, Art, Molalla River School District



ozens of students from all corners of the district stormed the May 14 Portland Public School board meeting to demand science and social studies classes that teach about the effects of climate change. On the heels of a nationwide student march for climate change justice in which over 1,000 Portland students participated, several students shared prepared testimonies imploring the board members to take action. The board passed a resolution in 2016 which promised curriculum changes to incorporate climate change science, but no resources have been dedicated to making these changes thus far. Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero addressed the group, applauding their leadership on “real-world issues.” Guerrero has announced the formation of a student-led climate justice advocacy group which will inform the district’s climate change education policies.

Newsflash WILL YOU BE THERE? » Take advantage of OEA's upcoming Summer Conference on July 30-Aug. 1! This event is a benefit of membership, and provides in-depth training on both professional and union advocacy issues. You won't want to miss it!

Good news for TEACH grant participants

M Education Support Professionals receive national recognition


n April 12, the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act was officially signed into law, creating a national award program (The RISE award), similar to the Teacher of the Year award. The Secretary of Education will accept nominations from state governors who will work in conjunction with key education stakeholders to identify candidates who have made significant contributions to their schools and communities. Leaders of the National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP) applaud the win for this wonderful group of educators. “This recognition is way overdue,” says NCESP President Debby Chandler. ESPs serve their schools proudly as clerical workers, medical staff, food service workers, transportation providers, instructional aids, and a variety of other capacities without which schools would not be able to function. “In all these capacities and services, we give hope, build bridges, heal and mend broken hearts, build self-esteem and nurture students,” says Chandler. RISE award nominations will begin in November 2019, with the first award to be announced in May 2020.

ore than 2,300 teachers around the country can finally breathe a sigh of relief. For many, enrolling in the TEACH (Teacher Educational Assistance for College and Higher Education) program meant they could graduate college without the burden of heavy student loan debt, if they would agree to teach for a certain number of years at a low-income area school. Thousands of would-be educators took advantage of the program, but the process to validate their years of service proved to be confusing and cumbersome.

Though they had completed the requirements for the grant, many teachers found that, due to paperwork errors, their grant amounts had been converted into massive student loans. Amidst the growing number of appeals and complaints, the U.S. Department of Education made changes to TEACH grant rules. Teachers can no longer have grants converted into loans for late or incomplete validation forms. Thousands more teachers who fall into this category are expected to qualify for loan forgiveness in the coming months.

Oregon Community Colleges may soon offer 4-year degrees


enate Bill 3, which would allow community colleges in Oregon to incorporate applied baccalaureate programs into their existing degree offerings, passed through the House Committee on Education at the beginning of May. The bill has already been approved by the Senate and awaits a vote from the House. Proponents of the bill say that it offers

Credits: Top left: Meg Krugel; Bottom left: Wesley LaPointe; Right:

a degree pathway to students in rural communities and students who are economically disadvantaged. It has received bipartisan support, and community college leaders applaud the flexibility it allows for their students. If the bill passes, degree programs would still need to be approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. TODAY’S OEA | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


Politics & You



his legislative session, OEA has been focused on three major goals to improve Oregon’s learning and working conditions for students and educators: n Secure significantly increased funding for education n Work to solve issues of disrupted learning in our classrooms and schools n Protect educators’ hard-earned benefits

Money for Schools

Historic disinvestment in education over the last 30 years has resulted in unacceptable learning conditions for Oregon students. This year, we secured a major victory by passing the Student Success Act. This bill would add $2 billion to our school budgets, meaning an 18% increase for K-12 schools. After years of lobbying, organizing, sharing stories, and bringing together stakeholders, we passed the largest investment in education in Oregon’s history! These dedicated funds will begin to impact classrooms and school buildings in myriad positive ways in 2020. There is much work left to do, and community college budgets are still in process at print time.

Disrupted Learning

Our schools are in crisis all across the state. Students come to school with intense unmet needs that impact their learning at school — such as hunger, homelessness, unmet mental health needs, and traumatic events at home. Without adequate resources to support our students, these challenges result in frequent, severe disruptions and outbursts that take time away from learning and affect all of our students. This session, we’re working on bills to: n Lower class sizes n Hire more school psychologists, counselors, instructional assistants, other specialists 10


Flanked by Salem-area students, Governor Kate Brown signs the Student Success Act into law on May 20.

n Increase mental health supports in every

school n Improve statewide reporting of room clears and disruptive incidents to better understand the number and frequency of these issues

Protect and Improve Hard-Earned Benefits for Teachers and Educators

As educators, we work hard and are proud of our public service. Even though many educators earn less than we would in the private sector, we believe in serving

> 22%

The decrease in salary that Oregon teachers make versus their peers who work in the private sector

our communities. Over many decades, educators have negotiated with our employers for secure retirements, and we’ve often given up raises and other benefits to ensure we’ll be able to retire with dignity. Oregon’s public employees have already shouldered a major responsibility in making the system more financially sustainable. Current employees are not the cause of the state’s financial woes, and further reductions to their benefits will not solve the problem. Oregon teachers already make 22% less than our peers who work in the private sector. This legislative session, we are again partnering with coalition organizations to defend against attacks to these hardearned benefits. OEA will continue to advocate strongly against any losses to educator retirement benefits. We cannot improve schools by losing educators or cutting their compensation.


NEA MICRO-CREDENTIALS Over 100 professional learning experiences are available for free


icro-credentials are a competency based recognition that can be issued for formal and informal professional learning experiences to support educators developing skills and acquiring knowledge to improve classroom practices that support student success. NEA offers over 100 micro-credentials to educators free of charge. These micro-credentials have been created and will be reviewed by educators.

Why offer micro-credentials?

To Get Started



Micro-credentials offer personalized learning experiences for educators. n Micro-credentials are on demand. The learning happens anywhere, anytime. n Micro-credentials are shareable. They can be shared with evaluators, posted on social networks, added to resumes and in some cases turned into continuing education units.

n n n n

Go to Make an account Browse for topics that interest you View the micro-credentials by clicking on the image Click “Apply” when you are ready to start

How does this support NEA Goals? n

By offering an entire ecosystem of over 100 micro-credentials, the NEA gives empowered educators an opportunity to learn and be recognized for skills and knowledge targeted to support successful students.

NEA Micro-Credentials Topics Include n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

Arts Integration Assessment Literacy Bully and Sexual Harassment Prevention Cooperating Teacher Community Schools Improvement Science Education Support Professionals: Professional Growth Continuum Working with English Language Learners Exceptional Learner Creating Safe School Spaces for LGBTQ Students I Can Do it-Classroom Management ESSA-Opportunity and Voice Early Career Educator (InTASC) National Board Five Core Propositions Restorative Practices Leadership Organizing

m Credits: Meg Krugel

Stack Example

Technology Integration (7 Micro-Credentials) n Technology Integration: Analyst n Technology Integration: Citizen n Technology Integration: Collaborator n Technology Integration: Designer n Technology Integration: Facilitator n Technology Integration: Leader n Technology Integration: Learner

Learn more at, or email us at We’re here to help.



Eye on Equity

COURAGEOUS COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS Portland Teacher Hosts Powerful Events for Black and Brown Youth BY MEG KRUGEL / Editor, Today's OEA


on a Friday evening in February this year, an unlikely group assembled at Blessed Temple Community Church in Portland. Nearly 100 black youth from across the city were sitting face to face with Portland Police Officers, talking about their black lived experiences and issues around police brutality. It was a deep and frank conversation, spurred on by a screening of the film “The Hate U Give (T.H.U.G)” — which students and officers watched together before launching into dialogue. T.H.U.G explores the intersectionality of race and schooling – navigating a predominantly white school system against the backdrop of the killing of an unarmed black boy by police. The event was organized by Paula DePass Dennis, a fifth grade teacher at Vernon Elementary School in Northeast Portland. Dennis is the founder of a local organization called DoPE (Dreaming of Potential Excellence), which provides opportunities for youth of color to connect with adults in their fields of interest and other community role models. Each year around Martin Luther King Day of Service, Dennis hosts a DoPE seminar — in its first year in 2017, Dennis invited 100 black and brown girls to watch the film "Hidden Figures." The screening was followed by a catered lunch with one of Dennis’ former fourth grade students, now an electrical engineering student as the keynote speaker. After the movie, the students debrief the movie with a panel of black women who worked in STEM-related field. The girls ended their day by creating individual vision boards as a reminder of their goals to work in STEM fields someday. Following this year’s screening of "The Hate U Give," Dennis has worked to engage Student Resource Officers assigned to Portland-area schools to receive 12


Paula Dennis, a Vernon Elementary teacher, hosts a community conversation on race, schooling and police. The Martin Luther King Day event at Blessed Temple Community Church in Portland brought students of color and local police officers together to watch the movie "The Hate U Give" and talk about building mutual trust.

appropriate training on working with students of color on campus in more positive ways. These events align closely with the goal of Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools, an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities around issues of racial justice. The Week of Action is specifically focused on three main goals: 1) End Zero Tolerance policies, 2) Hire more black teachers and staff, and 3) Mandate Black History and Ethnic Studies Curriculum. Dennis brings conversations on race, identity and equity into her own classrooms, too ­— every Friday, she invites her students into a Courageous Conversation circle, where they speak openly about historical events around race and their experiences as both white students and

students of color. Sometimes, the conversations are uncomfortable — students calling each other out for being “too white” or not understanding underlying problems associated with colorblindness, for example. But without Dennis facilitating these conversations, she knows they very well might not be happening at all — or at least not in a productive way that helps students learn and grow from the discomfort of the experience. In honor of her efforts over a long and industrious career focused on equity and inclusion, Dennis was honored with OEA’s Ed Elliott Human Rights Award at the OEA Representative Assembly in April of this year. As a colleague wrote of her, she is “a champion of change; racial equity and human rights propel her through life.”

Eye on Equity

Navigating Equity, in My Own Words My Journey as a Teacher of Color By Paula De-Pass Dennis


began my career in education as a Kindergarten student in Mexico, where I was taught by a loving community of brown women. In the early 1970s, my family moved to Oregon, and my mother was part of the Black Panther Movement. She started a breakfast program in the basement of our church, and as a child, I’d start my morning having conversations with people who looked like me — black women and black men, talking to me and empowering me. That feeling — the importance of those relationships — really stuck with me, and I knew then I wanted to be a teacher. I attended Jefferson High School, and there were a handful of white teachers who really engaged the students of color on campus, and I’m still in contact with quite a few of them. But when I look back on my time as a student in Oregon public schools, I remember having only one teacher who was a black woman, and that was in elementary school. The impact she had on me was so significant; I wanted to be that person for other little black girls who come through our school doors. Representation Matters. The school where I currently teach is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and as part of that, our 5th graders do a culminating exhibition on one topic they’re really passionate about. It can vary from animal rights, to ending homelessness, to addressing domestic abuse. Last year, I had a group of students who wanted to work on Black Lives Matter; they asked me, “Ms. Dennis — can we set up a GoFundMe?” I told them I didn’t think the Exhibition project was really about raising money but to tell me more. They said, “We want to raise some money so that we can hire a black teacher because we don’t have very many here at Vernon, and after 5th grade — that’s it. All the teachers at our Middle School program are white.” Credits: Left: Thomas Patterson; Right: Meg Krugel

I was almost in tears when I had to tell them, “It’s not about the money.” Year after year, black teachers are shut out of the hiring process. Last year, Portland Public Schools had 10 positions open, and zero were filled by people of color. Before coming back to the classroom last year, the bulk of my career was spent as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), coaching other teachers on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. I loved that role, guiding our district in adopting the Beyond Diversity curriculum, and implementing the C.A.R.E. (Collaborative Action Research for Equity) Program. In that program, we’d look at the “4 R’s” — Realness, Relationship, Rigor and Relevance. I’d go into classrooms and watch how teachers interacted with their students. Sometimes, they’d tell me “I want to build a relationship with a particular student who seems disengaged.” Yet, their teaching spot was in the front of the room, while that student sat in the back. I’d ask them to evaluate where they delivered the lesson

in proximity to that student. How do you build a relationship when you’re as far as East from West? As a teacher of 5th graders this year, I make a point to build time in our days for Courageous Conversations around race. Most of my students are white, and we spend a lot of time unraveling the idea that “we’re all the same.” We talk about what it means to be white, and that my experiences are very different from theirs. We must teach our young black boys to walk with their hands outside of their pockets, how to interact with the police, how to hold their receipts in-hand until they leave the store. These are the lessons we teach our kids of color that their white peers aren’t being burdened with. This is hard for them to acknowledge and see. So far, the response has been good with the parents of my students, though they seem uncomfortable using the “R” word. They’ll say, “I’m glad you’re talking to my kids about… that stuff.” And I’ll say, “Oh, race? Yeah. That’s who I am.”

Every Friday, Paula Dennis invites her students into a Courageous Conversation circle, where they speak openly about historical events around race, and their experiences as both white students and students of color





VERY DAY during the fiveweek 2018 Legislative Session, lawmakers heard from OEA members. Teachers, instructional assistants, counselors, and other staff recounted stories of their children. They described the disrupted learning crisis in caring, heartfelt terms. The pain of students whose mental health needs were going unmet, whose class sizes were bursting at the seams, whose social-emotional challenges were matched by academic struggles, and whose services and electives had been penciled out due to underfunding — all of it was brought into sharp focus and laid at the feet of Oregon’s 79th Legislative Assembly. In response, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D-Portland) created the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) and tasked this bicameral, bipartisan group with a yearlong project to better understand the condition of our public schools and to determine how to help. From March to October of that year, this group traveled 2700 miles across the state, visited 77 schools, and collected ideas. They met with key leaders, such as the Quality Education Commission and changemakers in other states, to hear about educational best practices. They listened to students, parents, educators, business leaders, and community voices. They heard over and over a singular theme: Oregon’s 30-year disinvestment in its public education system had laid the groundwork for an inter-related series of academic and student health crises and poor prospects for universal student success. 14


In December, JCSS members compiled a long list of possible initiatives to address this fundamental problem, complete with rough estimates of cost. They continued to meet in subcommittees and as a full committee in the 2019 Legislative Session, spending two evenings a week hearing testimony, refining ideas, and developing a revenue plan to pay for these ambitious goals. Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, another group formed to explore paths for raising corporate revenue. The Coalition for the Common Good (CCG), composed of representatives from key unions and businesses, identified various tax approaches and conducted research. CCG’s goal was to provide input to revenue legislators and to help ensure a plan’s enactment in 2019. OEA was a founding member of this effort. Meanwhile, a small group of education advocates, led by Gov. Kate Brown’s Education Policy Adviser, Lindsey Capps, met quietly for two months to build a student investment fund that would incorporate the highest-priority ideas of educators, parents, and policymakers to create the schools our students deserve. This group, which included representatives from OEA, the school boards association (OSBA), administrators’ group (COSA), and Stand for Children, patterned its plan off the successful, educator-built “School Improvement Fund”. That plan, though funded just twice, had piloted successful extra investments through non-competitive grants. It offered an approach that balanced the Legislature’s interest in earmarking the use of new resources with the crucial principles of student-centered programming, local

control, district flexibility, and community involvement. The student investment fund (SIF) group envisioned the targeting of most resources to K-12 through four “buckets” of related uses: class size and caseload reduction; well-rounded education (art, music, PE, CTE, librarians, and more); more time (broadly defined, such as before- and after-school programs, a longer day or year, summer school, and technology upgrades to create more computer lab time); and student health and safety (more school nurses, wraparound services, trauma-informed practices, and mental health supports). The SIF group also envisioned a special fund for the 10 districts with the most severely and chronically challenged students. JCSS Co-chairs Sen. Arnie Roblan and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, as well as a few of their JCSS colleagues, met with this group to hear its vision. They adapted this plan, adding other ideas from pending legislation, JCSS member priorities, and the revenue plan to create what is now known as the Student Success Act. Blending these streams, HB 3427 was born. The Student Success Act is composed of three investment streams plus the revenue plan. The first stream, the SIF group’s Student Investment Fund, would receive at least 50 percent of the $2 billion in new biennial resources. A second stream, receiving at least 20 percent of the Fund, would be dedicated to various early learning strategies, such as Oregon Pre-K, relief nurseries, early intervention/early special education, and a new early childhood equity program. The final stream of funds would use up to 30 percent to underwrite a list of statewide

When students from Waldo Elementary School learned that $2 billion would be flooding into Oregon's schools over the next two years, one boy told his teacher, "We won't waste it." And by that, he meant the students wouldn't waste the opportunity that an additional $2 billion would provide them. At the Student Success Act bill signing on May 20, held at Washington Elementary in Salem, his classmates hold signs sharing life goals, which, they say, will be possible thanks to a more fully-funded education system.

education initiatives in K-12, such as the expansion of access to school meals for Oregon’s school children — more than half of whom are from low-income households. The latter category could decline over time as infrastructure and administrative investment needs wane. These funds will then shift to the Student Investment and Early Education accounts. Because Oregon is near the bottom in the share of taxes paid by businesses operating in the state, the revenue plan focuses on correcting this imbalance to generate the Student Success Act resources. A new corporate activities tax, modified at the request of industry leaders, imposes a small, .57 percent tax on gross receipts after allowing a 35 percent deduction for labor or other costs. Just 40,000 of 460,000 businesses will be subject to the tax, which protects small business by exempting the first $1 million of taxable receipts and also exempts food, fuel, and hospital sectors. Because some economists predict that this tax might slightly increase prices, all Oregonians are also given a .25 percent personal income tax cut in the Student Success Act. Small businesses also pay taxes through the personal income tax side of the ledger, so Credits: Meg Krugel

this cut represents a second way small business is advantaged under the Act.


The heart of HB 3427 is the $1 billion grant account, Student Investment Account (SIA). Its purpose is to meet students’ mental or behavioral health needs, to increase academic achievement, and to reduce disparities among demographic groups. Money is allocated primarily to school districts based on each district’s student counts (ADMw in the school funding formula) but doubling the weight for poverty. Virtual charter schools are not included in the program. A brick-and-mortar charter school, on the other hand, may apply for its share of the resource if it serves at least 35 percent low-income population, disabled students, or students of color, and if its demographic density exceeds that of the resident school district. Estimates are that just 10 of Oregon’s 127 charter schools would be eligible to apply. The rest would be offered participation under their sponsoring school districts’ plan if the district chooses and if the charter schools agree. They must comply with all elements of the

district-led plan if they participate. Accountability and transparency are embedded in the SIA. Though all districts will receive their share of the Fund if they complete an application, they must agree to involve educators and community stakeholders in the planning. First, a district must have a strategic plan and conduct a needs assessment (also required under the federal ESSA law). Then, based on needs identification, an applicant must align its ESSA-required continuous improvement plan (CIP), its annual budget, the recommendations of the Quality Education Model, and educator and parent involvement to develop a plan reflective of all these inputs. If a district needs technical assistance with any of these steps, the Department of Education (ODE) will be there to help, but not direct. Next, the applicant and ODE will collaborate to establish reasonable growth targets, based on state and optional local metrics for measuring success. The state indicators are third-grade reading, chronic absenteeism rates, ninth-grade on-track, and graduation (diploma or GED). Local measures, such as a percentage decrease in room clears or class-size reduction in K-3 to research-guided levels, might also TODAY’S OEA | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


be added. When fully calibrated, the plan is then presented to the local governing board for public comment, and then, ODE and the applicant sign an agreement and checks are cut. The plans are for four years, with application renewal at the two-year mark, except for the startup period in which plans will be three-year documents with a oneyear reapplication. ESDs may also apply, using their funds in support of component districts. The Student Success Act’s accountability provisions is one area OEA worked diligently to soften. Gone from the original concept are expensive annual performance audits and punitive responses to stalled student growth. Instead, ODE will focus on technical support, coaching, and collaborative approaches that begin with an analysis of the reasons for any “outcome” concerns. Standard annual financial audits will include these funds, and districts are asked to review their progress with students each year. Time for teacher collaboration, professional development, and other proven strategies are embedded in the Act’s approach. For students, an emphasis on meaningful equity practices and culturally relevant strategies are designed to ensure that all students have the chance to achieve their dreams. The entire Student Success Act will continue biennium after biennium, supplementing the unearmarked State School Fund base budget for a total state investment that comes within 97 percent of the Quality Education Model’s estimate of school funding adequacy.


Oregon’s long march of education disinvestment followed on the heels of several major changes to its revenue system. Not only did the mostly property-tax-fed school system prior to 1990 fall siege to two limitation measures (Measure 5 in 1990 and Measure 50 in 1997), but the corporate incometax share of the General Fund also dropped from 18 percent in 1973 to just 6 percent today. Shouldering most of the load for schools was the personal income tax, paid by individuals and small businesses. When the 16


JOINT COMMITTEE ON STUDENT SUCCESS Co-chair: Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) Co-chair: Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) Vice Co-chair: Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) Vice Co-chair: Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) Sen. Mark Hass* (D-Beaverton) Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) Rep. Brian Clem (D-Salem) Rep. Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend) Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) Rep. Nancy Nathanson* (D-Eugene) Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio) *Co-chairs of Revenue Subcommittee

economy falters, this personal income tax resource vacillates, making school funding not only insufficient, but unstable. Over the years, OEA has worked to establish reserve accounts to hedge against that instability, as well as to bolster overall General Fund resources by recommending cuts to preferential tax breaks and by sponsoring tax transparency and rate increase initiatives. In 2010, OEA helped to sustain two small tax increases by the legislature that were challenged on the ballot (Measures 66 and 67). In 2012, the association sought and won redirection of the corporate kicker to K-12 education. These incremental gains, however, were not enough. In 2016, OEA and its allies pursued Measure 97, a gross-receipts tax that would have raised

$6 billion for schools and other vital state services. As with the Student Success Act, education’s share of the revenue would have been $2 billion per two-year budget period. More than $20 million in corporate funds were deployed to defeat this plan. Opponents argued that the measure constituted an “open checkbook” because the funds were not dedicated to education. Undaunted, OEA members pressed on. In 2018, OEA was part of a coalition that successfully defended the health-care provider tax, also challenged by voter referendum. The association also knew that taxpayers had voted in bond and local-option levy elections all over the state to tax themselves to pay for school capital projects and operations. It was this history, along with inspiration from the growing national Red for Ed movement, that formed the basis for OEA’s push for the Student Success Act. Fast-forward to February 18, 2019, when 5,000 educators and parents, clad in red tshirts, descended upon the state capitol in Salem to demand adequate school funding, once and for all. This historic show of support was followed by more action at OEA’s March 25 lobby day. On May 8, history was made once again when educators launched a statewide day of action, walking out and closing schools across the state, conducing teach-ins, and drawing national attention. On May 13, 2019, after Republicans walked out for five days in opposition, the Student Success Act was passed by the Oregon Senate, having passed the House on a 35-25 vote a week before. Gov. Brown signed the bill on May 16, with a ceremonial signing on May 20. Oregon’s Constitution requires that revenue-raising legislation may not be enacted until the 91st day after adjournment of the legislative session, to give opponents time to mount a referendum challenge. At this writing, we await that inevitable next step. Oregon’s largest and most influential business groups will not be joining the opposition this time, however: Oregon Business and Industry and Portland Business Alliance announced a position of neutrality due to the legislature’s efforts to keep the new tax on corporations small and the potential for game-changing educational improvements strong. n

STUDENT SUCCESS ACT $2 Billion per Biennium

• Early Childhood Equity Fund • Early Intervention / Early Childhood Special Education • Oregon Pre-K • Relief Nurseries • EC Professional Development • Early Head Start • Early Learning Division Staffing

Statewide Education Initiatives Account

Student Investment Account

Early Learning Account





$1 Billion per Biennium

At least $400 Million per Biennium

• Greater Access to School Meals • Doubling of High-cost Disability Fund • Youth Reengagement • Summer Learning in Title I Schools • Full Funding for M98 • Statewide School Safety • Statewide Equity Plans • Early Warning Systems • Diverse Educator Expansion • Intensive Investment in High-needs Students • ESD Funding • ODE Technical Support/Coaching

At least $600 Million per Biennium


• Needs Assessment • Strategic Planning Considering QEM recommendations Input from educators, parents, community


• Annual Budgeting • ESSA-Required CIP Includes additional community input Focus on mental health, academics, gaps

Credits: Meg Krugel





This spring, across our state, we stood in union for our students, our communities, and our future MAY 8, 2019



Credits: Name here














regon’s educators are strong. We are united. And we stand up for our students every single day. 2019 has been a season of advocacy for our union. Together, we’ve led the fight to better fund our schools and support our students. We invigorated and inspired our communities like never before. Tens of thousands of us found our voices to speak truths about what our students need to be successful. And together, we passed the Student Success Act, investing $2 billion into our schools. When we stand together in union, we can truly make a difference. — Jenny Smith




AT LEFT: Educators drop banners advocating for school funding on a highway overpass in Hillsboro as part of a statewide visibility effort in the build up to May 8.


Credits: Meg Krugel, Chris Becerra, Elizabeth Nahl

BELOW: More than 5,000 educators and supporters marched in Salem in February at the March for Our Students, calling on lawmakers to invest in our schools.



AT RIGHT: Math teacher Lindsay Ray leads chants in a crowd of more than a thousand educators who piled onto light rail trains and downtown Portland streets to advocate for students. BELOW: GreshamBarlow educators ride the MAX train as part of the "Take it to the Max" event.




Credits: Thomas Patterson



Resilience takes roo

In trying times, finding solutions to support educator wellness and resiliency is key to helping students and schools thrive By Meg Krugel


The day began like any other. Early on Friday, Jan. 11, Tyler Bryan drove to the job he loved at Cascade Middle School in the Bethel School District. Upon arriving at the building, he opened the shades, prepped his white board, greeted his seventh grade math students and started teaching. And then the third period bell rang. Outside, there was gunfire. From the window in his classroom, Bryan and his 34 students watched as a parent of a student was fatally shot in the entryway of the school by two police officers. The individual had drawn a loaded gun on police and fired shots, ignoring orders to leave school property. There is much that can be written about this shooting, of course — but this is instead a story about the people left inside the building that day: Bryan, his students, and the rest of the school community at Cascade Middle School. A story about what happened — or didn’t happen — to help them find resilience and heal from an unspeakable trauma. That weekend, two days after the shots had been fired, teachers and staff in the building met to discuss how the school would respond; staff were told it’d be “Business as usual” on Monday. The district stepped in to coordinate a meal train for two weeks and added short-term additional staff on campus to help students process the events of “1/11,” as the day came to be known. But as the dust started to settle after a few weeks, the support seemed to dwindle. The trauma of that day, however, remained. “It’s really hard not to feel safe in a place you spend most of your time,” Bryan says. “A lot of our kiddos experience intense traumas outside of the school, and then to have something like this take place in their ‘safe space’ — the place where they get fed regularly, where they’re not yelled at and where they know they can be accepted by trusted adults… to have this happen absolutely pulled the rug out from under them.” The advice from their District, according to Bryan, was to move past it rather than move through it. There was pushback from the staff, but concerns went unheard. Staff urged their district to work with the Trauma Healing Project to support both the educators and students who were present in the building that day. The district obliged after a while, but for Bryan and his colleagues, it was too little, too


After a shooting took place outside his classroom while he and his students watched, Cascade Middle School math teacher Tyler Bryan and other teachers have worked to make their Eugene school a safe space.

Credits: Thomas Patterson



late. Student aggression was steadily rising — in the three months following the shooting, there were more student fights on campus than there had been in the past 12 years combined. Staff asked for support from their union to work with HR and find time in the contract day to start planning how to heal the community - but overall, the experience showed what wide cracks exist in a system in the event of a trauma. Of the many different ways Bryan says he and his colleagues could have used support, the biggest one was time. “Time to do projects — art projects that beautify the building and reclaim the space. Time to process what took place together with my students. Time to bring in professionals who could help us facilitate these conversations when we felt at a loss. It’s not easy to have a conversation with 35 seventh graders about how they’re [coping] in a safe space that doesn’t feel all that safe anymore. It can go south very quickly,” Bryan says. The math teacher has tried a lot of this on his own — he invited his third period class in for a breakfast on a Saturday and together they repainted the wall that looks out onto the school entryway. “We wanted it to look different than it did that day,” he says. Cascade’s educators have changed, too. On a personal level, Bryan has been seeing three therapists to help him work through the trauma of that day. "It changed me completely as a person... no, I'm not a completely different person, but I have been changed forever from this event." “We’re a close-knit family, and at the beginning of the year up through winter break, it felt so good to walk into our school building. I was ecstatic going to work every day. Now, though, I literally walk into my room and I feel differently than I did just being in my car on the drive to work. It’s not a job thing – it’s a type of trauma that holds physical space in my body. I’m sure the kids experience that, too, but you have to be acutely tuned in to notice that your heart is racing more, simply because you’re in a different place.” The DSM-5 defines a PTSD trauma as any situation where one’s life or bodily integrity is threatened, like what transpired at Cascade Middle School. These situations are



Calming tools, like sand timers and glitter-filled shake bottles, help Bryan's students recenter themselves when they begin to feel triggered.

typically known as big ‘T’ traumas. On the other end of the spectrum, an accumulation of smaller “everyday” or less pronounced events can still be traumatic, but in the small ‘t’ form. While one small ‘t’ trauma is unlikely to lead to significant distress, multiple compounded small ‘t’ traumas, particularly in a short span of time, are more likely to lead to trouble with emotional functioning. Teaching and working in today’s public schools feels ripe with small ‘t’ traumas: there is a documented crisis around disruptive behaviors in classrooms that often result in multiple room clears in a single day. Students come in to our buildings experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, threat of deportation, abuse and neglect – and educators are the trusted ears who hear these stories first. Class sizes have grown so large it’s impossible to attend to every student’s need. Educators carry the weight of these stories close to the heart – over time, feeling the impact of “1,000 cuts” in very significant ways – an experience that’s known as compassion fatigue. An Informational Brief published in 2018 by the Oregon Department of Education’s Oregon Mentoring Program looked at the root causes of compassion fatigue and proven strategies for addressing this crisis in the educator workforce. According to the brief, Building Resilience to Address Compassion

Fatigue, “Compassion fatigue is the reduced ability to refuel due to the emotional strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. Secondary traumatization and burnout often go hand-in-hand with this form of fatigue.” Compassion fatigue carries with it physical, emotional and behavioral impacts — it can cause a flooding of adrenaline and cortisol into the system, resulting in physical symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and lowered immune response, according to the American Institute of Stress. A Gallup poll done in 2014 showed that 46 percent of teachers report high daily stress during the school year, tied with nurses for the highest rate among all occupational groups. Stress not only has negative consequences on educators — it also results in lower achievement for students and higher costs for schools. A New York City study showed higher teacher turnover led to lower fourth and fifth grade student achievement in both math and language art. This same study suggests that the cost of teacher turnover is estimated to be over $7 billion per year. Finding strategies to deal with both the big and little traumas is at the heart of resiliency work. Danielle Vanderlinden is the Trauma Informed Coordinator at Central

High School in Independence, and focuses a great deal on supporting resiliency — in students and educators alike. “A dysregulated teacher cannot support a dysregulated student. We know that our students are carrying around increased levels of stress from various sources. If our educators have a safe space where they can sit quietly, get a warm cup of coffee, and take some deep breaths without being interrupted, we predict they’ll have a better tolerance for using best practices in their classroom,” Vanderlinden says. Educators at Central High School are part of the OEA Great Public School’s Network Improvement Community, which has helped member leaders explore how the culture and climate of the school feeds into academic performance and influences student assessment practices. Vanderlinden’s background in quality improvement practices helps guide her work around creating systems in which both students and educators can thrive at Central. “I will be the first to say — I don’t see 120 kids a day and I don’t have a ton of grading to do at home. My job looks very different than that, so I can’t speak to what that must feel like. However, I do know that in education, there is this expectation that you come to school early and you take work home in the evening. At some point, we have to step back and say — is this healthy? It’s very easy to get pulled into this work and it’s very hard to create true balance. I think some of that is a systems issue,” Vanderlinden says of her work. Vanderlinden notes that the Sanctuary Model can help an organization or individual who has been through trauma to reshape those systems at play. “One of the things this model really encourages is to have both a safety plan and a self-care plan,” Vanderlinden says — noting that she’s not entirely comfortable with the term ‘safety plan’ because it does elicit a fear response. “A safety plan is really about the moment in which you are triggered — what you do to take care of yourself… something like ‘I try to unclench my fists, clench and release, and I get a drink of water.’ What can you do to keep yourself regulated enough to get through that moment?” A self-care plan, on the other hand, are

Credits: Thomas Patterson

School employee health, well-being & resilience model

the things you do every day that help restore and rejuvenate your sense of self. “One plan is reactive, and one plan is proactive. I have always found that to be really helpful in thinking about resilience because it’s so easy to fall in that reactive trap, but resilience is really about being proactive in taking care of ourselves,” she says. To this end, Vanderlinden plans to spend the month of June redesigning a neglected staff lunchroom into a wellness space for educators in the building. The room is in the basement of the school and is rarely used — long conference-style tables and hard chairs fill the entire space, which is lit by harsh fluorescent lights. Vanderlinden plans to remove the long tables and replace them with a couple of small round tables for communal eating. She’s putting in an iced tea dispenser and a popcorn machine, and adding a few couches, soft lighting, yoga balls, and a place

to work on puzzles and other activities with your hands. “Over and over again I’ve heard ‘this is the first time I’m eating something today.’ Those basic needs are just not well met for our educators. Part of it is offering the space, and the other part is changing the systems in place here. I think it will be huge to offer a space where, when you feel yourself starting to become dysregulated, you can make a phone call to an administrator who will cover your class for five minutes while you walk down to the staff lounge, grab something to drink, and walk back to class. Between that movement, the quiet, and nourishing your body, it will become a resiliency tool,” she explains. These practices are very much in line with the OEA Choice Trust’s school employee health, well-being and resiliency model, which is a holistic approach that recognizes the dynamic interaction between individuals



and the places where they live, work and play. According to the Trust, “individuals are better able to put health-promoting behaviors and resilience skills into action when their workplace practices and social norms collectively create the opportunities to be healthy, safe, supported, engaged and challenging.” Through the OEA Choice Trust wellness grant program, school districts can apply for grants of $100,000 to be used over a 5-year period. From 2009 through January 31, 2019, the Trust has awarded close to 3.8 million dollars to 65 Oregon public school employee groups. Currently there are 23 active grantee groups. The Employee Wellness Grant Program has touched over 35,934 lives; not including the trickle-down effect to students, family and community. Corvallis School District has had a robust student wellness focus since 2006, with five schools winning ODE’s student wellness award between 2008-2015. And yet, despite onsite walking trails connecting school campuses, regular Walk/Bike to school events, and school-garden-grown fruits and vegetables offered during lunchtime, there was little in the way that focused specifically on educator wellness. To propel their efforts, Corvallis School District applied for an OEA Choice Trust grant to promote staff wellness. The district began by setting up a subcommittee of the wellness team, who surveyed the needs and interests of staff members. Using the data, they launched changes across the district — wellness clinics, virtual walking challenges, fitness opportunities, fresh fruit delivery to staff rooms, mindfulness trainings, water “hydration station” installations in buildings, among other initiatives. In their Fall 2015 survey of program effectiveness, 51 percent of staff were eating healthier, 62 percent had increased their daily physical activity, and 91 percent of survey respondents agreed that “overall, my building is a healthy, positive place to work and learn.” The impact that educator resiliency efforts have on student success cannot be overstated. Five years ago, Woodlawn Elementary school in Portland was experiencing a crisis in educator turnover. It seemed nearly impossible to keep a teacher working in the building for more than one or



Tips for Supporting Your Own Resilience at School and Work n Educate yourself about the signs and

symptoms of chronic stress, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma. n Preemptively develop a list of positive

coping strategies, such as being physically active, getting quality sleep, eating wholesomely, honoring your emotional needs, and connecting with family and friends, and practice those strategies.

n Set and maintain healthy emotional

boundaries. n Cultivate healthy friendships both in- and

outside of work. n Take advantage of available resources,

such as participating in peer groups, personal therapy, or reading materials focused on the topic (e.g., The Age of Overwhelm: Strategies for the long haul).

n Implement mindfulness-based practices

throughout the day.

two years at a time. Unsurprisingly, student achievement was bearing the brunt of this epidemic. In 2014, the school had fallen into the “level 1” category for the third year in a row on the State Schools report card, which denotes the worst performing 5 percent of all schools in Oregon, regardless of socioeconomic makeup. That year, a leadership change brought in Andrea Porter-Lopez as the school’s Principal; in an article in the Oregonian, Porter-Lopez spoke of her commitment to retooling the school climate. “You can’t expect student achievement from disheartened teachers and students,” PorterLopez said in that Oregonian story. Porter-Lopez immediately dug in to this journey by helping her staff find a sense of work/life balance, community camaraderie, and better relationships with parent groups. As a school leader, she knew her staff also needed acknowledgement that the work they were doing was hard, yes, but deeply respected. A former Assistant Principal used to leave handwritten cards to staff in the building when she noticed a job well done. Porter-Lopez says that, to this day, the cards remain pinned to bulletin boards. “I’m not a greeting card kind of person,” she says with a little laugh, “but my teachers were telling me that those cards were actually really important to their job satisfaction and sense of being appreciated.” One of the most impressive transformations at the school over the last couple of years has been the unveiling of a new staff wellness room, which sits adjacent to a

student wellness/calming space. The staff room is a transformed former Kindergarten classroom — and it feels night and day different from the typical staff lunchroom. “When I started here at Woodlawn, I noticed that our educators didn’t really intermingle. Some of our staff didn’t even know each other’s names, much less eat lunch together,” Porter-Lopez says. The school’s Parent Teacher Association began the work of pulling the staff wellness room together as a place where staff could convene throughout the day and take a moment for themselves. There are no computers in the room, and the WiFi is intentionally spotty. “This is not a place to bring your grading or do work,” Porter-Lopez says as she walks through the room, pointing out feelgood conveniences like a coffee pot that’s always full, a lending library with photos of staff family members nestled in between books on the shelves, and an appreciation bulletin board with cards from students. Sharnell Brown is an educational assistant in the K-2 classrooms at Woodlawn. On this day in the wellness room, she sits down with a lunch that's been donated from a local restaurant. She gives a few hellos to her colleagues; the windows are open and a breeze blows through the room. The whole environment feels calm, happy even. “I’m new here in the building, but I love it here. The school feels like home. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere else anytime soon,” she says. In resiliency terms, that seems like a definite win. n

Mentor Ginger Habel works with science teacher Case Kauzer on his class curriculum.

Educators find fresh fruit, comfortable seating, notes of appreciation and photos of their own family in the staff wellness room at Woodlawn Elementary.

Credits: Meg Krugel



CALMING THE TORM Disrupted learning environments continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing Oregon educators. Across the state, schools are creating space for students to build the social and emotional skills they need to be learning-ready. By Milana Grant • Photos by Thomas Patterson


n February, the Oregon Education Association released A Crisis of Disrupted Learning, a deep dive into the causes and effects of disrupted learning environments, the culmination of a year-long listening project facilitated by OEA. Hundreds of educators, parents, and community members attended 14 town hall meetings across the state in the Spring and Fall of 2018, where they shared and heard about what life inside a classroom truly looks like. Stories of daily room clears, physical violence, and other extreme behaviors were echoed from every corner of Oregon. It became immediately clear that the impacts of disrupted learning on students and educators had reached a crisis level. In polls conducted- both in person and online — before, during, and after each meeting, participants were asked openended questions about the barriers they and their students face, the support they need but aren’t getting, and their suggestions for solutions. Over half (56 percent) reported at least one room clear during the current school year; 32 percent of answers reported concern for students’ safety. Of the nearly 1,200 responses, an overwhelming number of people stated that class size was the biggest challenge when considering safety and inclusivity, followed closely by the lack of student support specialists, like counselors, special education teachers and education assistants. 32


From the feedback collected, three ground-level solutions were identified: n Increased onsite student supports with a

focus on mental health

n Reduced class sizes and caseloads n Funding for targeted professional

development in a variety of behavior management areas

All of these solutions are complex in terms of funding and statewide implementation, but those closest to the work — educators — believe that they are the key to turning the tide on the growing crisis of disrupted learning.

Leading the charge

With the passage of the Student Success Act, the funding piece of the puzzle is beginning to fall into place, but with little or no guidance from state education leaders, districts have had to find creative solutions to support their students and staff. While no two districts have been quite the same in their approach, similar programs and curriculum have begun to appear in many schools arounds the state. One concept that has become quite popular is the introduction of spaces designed to help students deescalate when they are experiencing troublesome emotions that might otherwise cause them to exhibit disruptive behavior. In the classroom, the space might be a designated

Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Astoria built a wellness room full of calming spaces for students to relax and manage disrupted learning.

“calm corner” where a student can sit alone in a comfortable chair with a quiet activity — like books or sensory aids — and self-regulate their anger or anxiety. In other schools, entire rooms are dedicated to create space for students to practice calming techniques and learn social and emotional regulation skills. Hillsboro School District implemented both of these concepts in the 2016-17 school year, beginning with a traumainformed pilot program in six elementary schools. Each school committed to

dedicate space for wellness rooms/ calming corners, as well as hire a full-time behavior specialist to supervise the space and provide training to all staff on traumainformed care practices and curriculum. In the wellness rooms, dubbed “Mission Control” as their purpose is to help students gain control over their emotions and behavior, students choose solitary activities, such as lying on mats with weighted blankets, drawing, playing with sensory objects, or reading. They are allotted a specified amount of time for

their chosen activity, and then they meet with the behavior specialist for a lesson on emotional regulation, which students can then put into practice when they return to class. Specialists in Hillsboro schools use a curriculum called “Zones of Regulation” to help students identify their feelings using a color system (see graphic). The goal is to give students the tools and skills to recognize when they are losing control of their emotions and to selfcorrect instead of becoming disruptive. All classrooms are also equipped with areas

in which students can step away and calm down if they find themselves in need of a break. After one year, the pilot schools exhibited a marked improvement in student attendance and a significant decrease in extreme behaviors and discipline. A reduction in staff absences was also noted. Due to the initial success, the district expanded the program into seven more elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school in the 2017-18 school year. TODAY’S OEA | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


Creating ripples Other districts have taken note of Hillsboro’s success with this program and have implemented their own versions. Several principals and educators from the Seaside School District visited Butternut Creek Elementary School in Hillsboro last year to get a closer look at their “Mission Control” room and gather ideas about how to create such a space in their own elementary schools. In the Fall of 2017, two elementary schools in Seaside began the school year with their very own Mission Controls. Students and staff received training on how to utilize the space, ensuring that they did not see it as a reward or punishment, but a place that any student can go to self-regulate their emotions and learn skills to regain control over their behaviors. Additionally, all classrooms were outfitted with flexible seating options such as standing tables, yoga balls, and floor cushions, so that students are comfortable and ready to learn. Teachers make recommendations for students to visit Mission Control, but students can also request to use the space. Only one student may check in at a time, and the room stays silent so students know that it is not a place for socializing. Once they have spent the allotted time in their chosen activity, they are asked to follow simple directions like touching their

The “Eagle’s Nest” features squishy floor mats, lava lamps, bean bags, sensory toys, and other calming items.

nose or waving their arms before they are released back to class. The whole process takes about 15 minutes from door-to-door. Seaside Superintendent Sheila Roley has called these spaces “game-changers.” Absenteeism is down, and there has been a notable decrease in extreme behaviors. Teachers are reporting more instances of self-regulation in the classroom, and academic achievement is on the rise, with many students meeting end-of-year benchmarks before Spring Break. Korie Blacker, a counselor in Astoria,

was excited when she and her colleagues received approval to build their own wellness space this year. Blacker had worked as a substitute in Seaside during the discovery process for their Mission Control. “We have a trauma-informed care group in the North Coast, which includes Tillamook, Knappa, Seaside, and Astoria, and all of the school counselors come to those meetings, so I cross paths pretty often with counselors from Seaside, who implemented their wellness room last year,” she says. “It was really nice to hear about how they had done

The zones of regulation

Blue Zone Sad Sick Bored Tired Moving slowly


Green Zone Happy Calm Feeling okay Focused Ready to learn


Yellow Zone Frustrated Worried Silly/Wiggly Excited Some loss of control

Red Zone Mad/Angry Mean Terrified Yelling/Hitting Out of control

Korie Blacker, a counselor in Astoria, was excited when she and her colleagues received approval to build their own wellness space this year.

it and how it had helped their students.” With help from her UniServ Council, Blacker and her team were able to secure funding through an OEA Educator Empowerment grant to furnish their space, which they name the “Eagle’s Nest”. They received just over $5,000, which was used to purchase squishy floor mats, lava lamps, bean bags, sensory toys, and other items to create a calming, welcoming environment for their students. Once the room was set up, the real challenge of implementation began. “Everyone was a little skeptical of the program, especially the kids. I had one student recently who thought he was going to the wellness room because he got in trouble, so it’s a learning process for them to understand what the space really means,” says Blacker. It is sometimes difficult to move away from the traditional seclusion methods used in the past, which have often been viewed as punishment and can be very isolating for students. While students who visit the Eagle’s Nest are expected to engage in quiet, solitary activities, they get to choose which station they want to use, and they aren’t alone in the room. Part of the check-in process is identifying how they’re feeling. Blacker also uses Credits: Thomas Patterson

the Zones of Regulation curriculum, so students have to choose the color that represents their feeling. They are also asked to identify what made them feel that way — they might be over-excited about something that happened at recess, or perhaps a little nervous because they’ve never been to the room before. Students then get to take ownership of their self-regulation practice by choosing an activity and setting their individual timer for five minutes. Once that time is up, they come together on the mat for stretches and breathing exercises, then Blacker delivers a fiveminute lesson on emotional regulation. Each month, the lessons are focused on a different tool or skill that students can use to help themselves gain control over their emotions and behaviors in the classroom. Simply having more individualized attention from a trusted adult makes students feel more connected and secure in their school environment. “So many kids are just so eager for adult attention, and that’s where the disruptive behavior comes from. This gives them a positive way to get that adult attention; they get to go when they’re doing well. It’s only a few minutes, but it really matters to them,” says Blacker. Though the space has only been in use

for one school year, the improvement in student behavior is clear. And the attitude of students and staff about the Eagle’s Nest has shifted from skepticism to appreciation. “Whenever you roll out a new program, it can be an uneasy start. People don’t know what it’s going to be like — is it going to be effective, or is it just going to be a burden? But it’s been really encouraging to receive that positive feedback, and I’m excited to continue to see the impact moving forward,” says Blacker.

Sustaining change

These programs are still in their infancy, but the initial successes show great promise for creating positive school environments with fewer extreme and disruptive behaviors. One of the priority funding areas of the Student Success Act is focused on providing mental health support for students. Our schools desperately need counselors, mental health specialists, and social workers to help students cope with the increased trauma and adverse childhood experiences that they are facing, but wellness spaces are a powerful tool that every school can use in conjunction with additional support staff to make big improvements to student success. n TODAY’S OEA | SPRING/SUMMER 2019


Association in Action



he 2019 OEA Representative Assembly could not have come at a more challenging, emotional, or exciting time for Oregon educators. Fresh from the great success of the March for Our Students event on February 18, and just days before the monumental statewide actions held on May 8, OEA members were in fighting shape as they gathered to shape the work of the OEA for the coming year. Of the 43 New Business Items (NBIs) submitted at this year’s assembly, 24 were passed, and many others referred to the OEA Board. The spirit of debate was alive and well in our members this year! The discussion of NBIs went late into the evening on Saturday, and it was clear that our members came to fight for the education issues they hold dear. Over 600 delegates attended the 2019 OEA Representative Assembly. All gathered on Friday evening to adopt their standing rules, receive reports, and hear candidate speeches, going late into the evening. On Saturday, delegates voted to elect officers to serve as OEA President, OEA Vice President, one NEA Director, a Racial Equity Director, and an at-large ESP Director. Also on Saturday, delegates debated and adopted new business items and amendments to OEA’s Bylaws, Policies, Resolutions, and Legislative Objectives. Refer to the 2019 OEA RA Minutes for full details on debate:



Dick Barss/Pat Wohlers Member Rights Award n Sue McGrory, Greater Albany Education Association Noel Connall IPD Award n Aly Nester, Springfield Education Association Robert G. Crumpton Organizational Excellence Award n Karen Lally, Beaverton Education Association Excellence in Education Award n Leah Dunbar, Eugene Education Association Political Action Award n Suzanne Cohen, Portland Association of Teachers Kevin Forney Education Support Professional Award n Amanda O’Sullivan, Eagle Point Education Association Ruth E. Greiner Membership Award n Sara Schmitt, Beaverton Education Association


OEA Retired Lifetime Service Award n Nancy Lewis, OEA-Retired

Serving a two-year term beginning July 10, 2019: n John Larson, President n Reed Scott-Schwalbach, Vice President

Ed Elliot Human Rights Award n Paula Dennis, Portland Association of Teachers

Serving a three-year term: Beginning September 1, 2019 n Enrique Farrera, NEA Director Beginning July 10, 2019 n Thyunga Barr, Racial Equity Director n Tim Willett, at large ESP Director



NON-MEMBER AWARDS Education Citizen of the Year n Representative Teresa Alonso León

Over 600

2019 Oregon Teacher of the Year n Keri Ricker Pilgrim, Eugene Education Association 2019 Friend of the Foundation n Betty Tumlin, OEA-Retired OEA Leadership Award n Forest Schoner, Rogue River Education Association n Maureen Lundy, Klamath Falls Education Association OEA Advocacy Award n Susie Jones, Multnomah Educational Service District Board of Directors OEA Organizing Award n Erika Breton, Woodburn Education Association n Joe Crafton, McMinnville Education Association OEA Political Action Award n Tina Leaton, Eugene Education Association n Lisa North, Medford Education Association n Troy Pomeroy, Medford Education Association OEA Social Justice Award n Lisa Piscitello, Brookings-Harbor Education Association n Mickey Laney-Jarvis, Grants Pass Education Association n Nichole Wat

Delegates attended the 2019 OEA RA!

Association in Action APPROVED BY THE DELEGATION 1. Use the winners of the Kevin Forney ESP of the Year and the Willie Juhola ESP of the Year for Speaking Engagements throughout the year in which they are the winner. The Kevin Forney award winner should speak at the OEA RA. Other examples of this would be the Summer Leadership Conference and OEA Symposium. 2. Look into having an Oregon Support Education license plate. 3. Promote Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (and the related Temporary Expanded PSLF Program) by highlighting who is eligible, the fact that less than 1% of applications have been approved, and the tools and resources available to assist educators in successfully navigating the process in all appropriate print and existing digital-media formats. 8. Create a task force to collect and share best practices for how school communities can respond to traumatic events on or near campuses for members and students with local EAs, COSA, OSBA, NEA, and other stakeholders. 9. Whenever OEA communicates support for legislation, and that legislation is incremental and falls short of the OEA Legislative objectives, all such communication should include both: n praise for the lawmakers, praise for what we support and why; n educational language as to why a gap remains and how we propose that gap be addressed. 10. Assign appropriate staff from GPS & Public Affairs to partner with existing organizations to support the professional development, training, and curriculum needs of educators related to sex education. OEA GPS and lobbying staff will work in line with legislative objectives regarding student health and safety, to advocate for the necessary resources for educators to support implementation of Oregon’s sex education standards. 11. Create a task force to examine the state of social studies instruction (K-12) in Oregon. The task force will write a report, including recommendations, that will be delivered to the 2020 Rep. Assembly. Some topics to be considered: n Equity of time compared with other core subjects n Help for S.S. teachers in teaching new standards and seeking approved resources that match state standards. 14. Study and make recommendations for action steps, trainings, and other avenues to resolve issues facing our transgender, non-binary and questioning students and members. 15. The Center for Great Public Schools shall identify best practice standards for dual language immersion curriculum and to identify standards of performance evaluation for dual language immersion educators in order to make recommendations to the Oregon Department of Education. 16. Encourage the practice of including a person’s gender pronouns on printed documents that identify members represent our core values of identity inclusivity by normalizing the recognition of gender pronouns on badges, name tags, office signage and other delegate documents. The OEA will encourage members

Credit: Meg Krugel

OEA-Retired member Doris Jared, left, escorts Representative Teresa Alonso León to the RA stage, where the legislator was presented with the Education Citizen of the Year award - OEA's highest non-member honor.

to identify their gender pronouns when they are introducing themselves on the floor of RA, in recognition of our core values of identity inclusivity. 17. Partner with rank and file members and utilize the expertise of Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) and Tax Fairness Oregon to educate members about corporations and top earners. An emphasis will be on tax evasions and loopholes, profits, income inequality, progressive versus regressive taxes, and the history of tax rates and how it affects funding for social services and the quality of life for Oregonians. Education will include written materials distributed to every local so all members have access to the information, online resources and holding support workshops at local UniServs and union halls. 19. Instruct the Bylaws and Policies committee working with Center for Great Public Schools explore options for engaging student voice by establishing a high school student program. 20. Investigate the TAG testing procedures across the state, specifically with ELL students and students of color, and report out and make recommendations, that are equitable for all students. 21. OEA Special Education Committee shall explore and subsequently advocate for including class size data in the referral process for special education. 23. Support and endorse HB2015 which eliminates the requirement that person provide proof of legal presence before Department of Transportation issues non-commercial drivers licenses, non-commercial driver permit or identification cards and that we support and endorse the entire Fair Shot for All agenda. 24. Use existing communication channels including OEA magazine, social media, press releases, lobbying efforts, etc. to educate people on the loss of, importance of, and need to restore teacher librarians at our schools.

the corporate disinvestment in public education, and the overarching intention to privatize public education. 26. Update current language throughout all OEA documents to recognize institutional racism in education — the subtle but entrenched policies & practices within schools that have a disproportionately negative impact on students and staff of color. And I further move that OEA committees coordinate with the EMAC and HCRC to update current language. 27. Demand that the 2020 legislature add an additional $2 billion in revenue-raising measures above what is called for in the Student Success Act, to be used for pre-K through post-high school public education. 31. Advocate for the most progressive structure to raise additional revenue for public education and other public services 35. Oppose any Oregon Department of Education requirement that students must pass a single high stakes assessment in order to exit English Language Development Services, without the option for an educational portfolio review as an alternative for exit. The OEA will investigate the cause for the sudden exclusion for the exit portfolio option and demand that the state work towards re-instituting alternative options for ELD program exit. 36. Assign appropriate staff from the Center for Great Public Schools to reach out to organizations that have demonstrated expertise in eliminating disproportionate discipline in community organizations that represent those students most affected by the circumstances that create trauma in children. OEA will work with these organizations as we create action plans from the Disrupted Learning Report. 43. Gather information from local leaders about district responses to the May 8th walkout and provide a report about the various responses to its members.

25. Engage in a public relations campaign using primarily social media, that focuses on preemptive and timely messaging to the general public about those attacking public education (such as the Koch Brothers),



ON THE WEB / Spring/Summer2019 »

KGW's "Classrooms in Crisis" Series Digs Deep


n February 2019, OEA released its detailed report “A Crisis of Disrupted Learning,” which chronicles the experiences of both students and their educators around disruptive behaviors in our public schools. News outlets far and wide took notice of the powerful stories shared by Oregon educators. Communities across Oregon have tuned in to KGW’s newest series “Classrooms in Crisis” to listen to firsthand accounts of this disrupted learning crisis — shocking stories of daily room clears, student and staff injuries, and the impact of disrupted learning environments on student achievement. Fueled by the investigative reporting of KGW journalist Christin Severance, “Classrooms in Crisis” dives deep into the issue from multiple perspectives – an educator

roundtable with OEA members, a one-on-one interview with a veteran teacher forced into early retirement due to unmanageable student behaviors, and conversations

with parents. Many of those interviewed call for more funding to invest in mental health and social services for students experiencing trauma and mental health issues. Explore more - find the series online:

Sharing Your #RedForEd Stories this Session


n the months leading up to the historic signing of the Student Success Act, Oregon educators stepped up with stories that painted a stark picture of what it’s like to teach and work in today’s underfunded public schools. Every day this Legislative session, OEA hand-delivered a story from an educator to each legislator in the capitol. The stories represented a wide swath of OEA membership – urban and rural, licensed, classified, and community college, veteran and new member. The unifying theme was quite clear: our schools are deeply under-resourced. It’s time we do better for our students. 38


Snapshots from our story project: Jay Wilson, a bus driver in The Dalles, wrote: “The kids who get on my bus in the morning often haven’t had breakfast, much less a ‘good morning’ from a loved one before they head out the door. The result is that I’ve seen an escalation in extreme disruptive behavior issues on my school bus – screaming, kicking hitting and yelling. When I began driving the bus in The Dalles just a few years ago, we had only a small handful of disruptive students. Today, of the 100-150 students I drive on my bus, I deal with at least a dozen or more disruptive students daily."

In her story to lawmakers, Melissa Grothe, a fourth grade teacher from Astoria, writes: " I know my students really need more counselors, a school psychologist, and mental health supports. One person supporting 450 students in our building is absolutely insufficient. Every day, we have to ask ourselves: are we setting ourselves up for failure, or are we setting ourselves up for a better future? Right now, I don’t think our state is doing the best that we can for our kids." Each of these stories are collected on OEA's medium blog: oregoned. Credits: KGW

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