Voices at the 2021 Virtual Legislature

Oregon Partners for Education Justice testify on student mental health, ethnic studies, tribal regalia, and more.

With the 2021 Legislative Session in full swing, the Oregon Partners for Education Justice—a statewide, cross-cultural network of over 20 community-based organizations and education advocates—are fiercely advocating for shared priorities in front of state legislators. 

To support these priorities during the 2021 Legislative Session, contact your state legislators today. Ask them to support the policies and investments in the Oregon Partners for Education Justice 2021 Legislative Agenda.

Here are some highlights from virtual testimony during the 2021 Legislative Session:

House Bill 2001: Protecting Oregon’s Diversifying Educator Workforce From Layoffs

“We know that better representation and diversity among teachers directly translates into student success—especially for Black, Indigenous, and students of color. We must protect the progress we have made and continue to center equity in our decision-making. Our students and their families are worth it.”

-Elona Wilson, Coalition of Communities of Color

House Bill 2052: Permitting Tribal Regalia at Graduation Ceremonies

“Native youth overcome a host of obstacles to get to the point where they can proudly walk across the stage, honoring their ancestors and all those that came before them and who stand behind them as they obtain their diploma. And those youth deserve to honor their ancestors through the cultural practices and traditions of their people.”

-Tamara Henderson, NAYA

House Bill 2060: Setting Longitudinal Mental and Behavioral Health Targets

“Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, ‘You measure what you treasure.’ Setting goals and measures is paramount, as is monitoring progress. ... You have an opportunity to strengthen the Student Investment Account’s impact and to ensure that investments are used to provide effective, culturally responsive, trauma-informed mental and behavioral health services for children.”

-Roberta Dunn, FACT Oregon

House Bill 2166-1: Setting Statewide Social and Emotional Learning Standards

“The roll-out of trauma-informed practices and the creation of social and emotional learning standards both have the potential to make a difference for Oregon students. This is why I believe it is important that students be on the advisory group [that would develop new SEL standards]. No one knows the experience of students better than students themselves—and this is especially true when it comes to the experiences of historically underserved communities.”

- Samantha Block, Oregon Student Voice

Senate Bill 227: Investing to Support Educators to Teach Ethnic Studies

“The passage of [a statewide Ethnic Studies standard] was a triumph for our API community, but as we know, this is not the only step we need to take. This curriculum will be entirely new to many of our educators and requires familiarity with its contents if the learning is to be successful for students.”

-Lanea Olson, APANO

Senate Bill 328: Reporting Data on K-12 Suspensions and Expulsions

"This is about ensuring that we have transparency to address an issue that not only has a catalytic impact on what [students] see as themselves, their self-esteem, and their worth in school, but also has a direct correlation with the number of children who end up in the juvenile justice system and later in prison. It’s unacceptable. The more we know, the more we’re able to do."

-Kali Thorne Ladd, KairosPDX

Senate Bill 236: Studying the Impact of Suspension and Expulsion in Early Learning

A child’s brain goes through an incredible period of development in the earliest years of life. Unnurturing environments or disruptions in education can cause harm during this critical phase in a child’s development. Yet, Black children, Indigenous children, and children with developmental disabilities experience the highest suspension and expulsion rates of any age. ... SB 236 provides a path forward to ensure that families, educators, and providers have the resources to foster the conditions for all children to thrive early in life.

-Anthony Castaneda, Latino Network

House Bill 2368-2: Pilot Program for Trauma-Informed Approaches to Education

"I would like to share a story with you about Elizabeth, an immigrant student who came from Central America to reunite with her mother. She suffered a lot of trauma in her journey to the U.S., and she felt she did not belong at school, home, or in the country. Her school staff are caring, but most can’t relate to the pain and trauma Elizabeth went through. Being able to get culturally affirming support in her own language and trauma-informed services for her and her family is the right approach to her needs. Our society must come together in a radically new way to change how we think and talk about mental and behavioral health issues in the services we provide to our students and families."

-Lupe Hernandez, Adelante Mujeres

Senate Bill 744: Inclusive Review of High School Diploma Requirements

"We ask you to convey with clarity of conviction that all students arrive at school on track for a diploma. Despite legislative efforts to ensure that diploma options are accessible to all students, we have students finishing school only to receive an alternative certificate – a piece of paper that simply says they attended. … This review needs to take a look a close look at what drivers are impacting diploma acquisition."

-Roberta Dunn, FACT Oregon

House Bill 2056: Linguistic Inclusion in Oregon Graduation Requirements

[Oregon’s growing] API community means many cultures are taking root in our neighborhoods and our schools where the curriculum centers English-speaking standards. As our API communities know, comprehending and mastering state standards is the goal—language is only a tool to achieve success. … In today’s schools where more and more children come with multiple languages, it is time for Oregon to provide opportunities for students to meet the state standards not only in English, but also in other languages of their native countries.

-Wei-Wei Lou & Lanea Olson, APANO

House Bill 2166-1: Preventing Suspension and Expulsion in Early Learning

“HB 2166 is a step forward in increasing support and providing the tools necessary to create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for all of our young learners. The amendment will ... reduce the use of suspension and expulsion in early care and programs by investing in and training [educators] on culturally responsive and trauma-informed approaches to child development.”

-Anthony Castaneda, Latino Network