Where the Legislature Fell Short in 2022

The short legislative session has ended with a failure to answer the calls of youth and community leaders to stand up for racial justice in public education.

Whitney Grubbs is Executive Director of Foundations for a Better Oregon.

Amanda Manjarrez is Public Policy and Government Affairs Director at Foundations for a Better Oregon.

Whitney Grubbs is Executive Director of Foundations for a Better Oregon.

Amanda Manjarrez is Public Policy and Government Affairs Director at Foundations for a Better Oregon.

In 2017, Oregon led the nation when it passed historic statewide K-12 ethnic studies standards with bipartisan support. Nearly five years later, we're deeply disappointed that the Oregon Legislature has—once again—failed to invest in the training and support that educators need and deserve to bring these standards to life in the classroom.

This was a golden opportunity to complete unfinished business. The proposed investment was fiercely championed by a cross-cultural coalition of over 25 community-based organizations and education advocates, and even earned a passionate legislative sponsor and bipartisan support during the session. The shared energy, momentum, and solidarity was inspiring.

And yet, the 2022 short legislative session has ended with business as usual: a failure to answer the calls of youth and community leaders, and stand up for racial justice in public education.

This failure spotlights a breakdown of accountability that goes beyond any single policy. Too often, state leaders dishonor community voice by abandoning collaboration when making key decisions behind closed doors. From implementing Oregon’s ethnic studies standards, to giving youth a voice to shape state education policy, the state education budget ignored top priorities supported by advocates in Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color.

Without inclusive, participatory, and transparent policymaking processes, our democracy simply can’t hold state leaders accountable to underserved youth across Oregon. The Legislature’s inaction ultimately leaves underserved communities shouldering the burden of pushing strained state agencies, districts, and schools to do the right thing without sufficient resources.

Still, Oregon students, families, and communities are resilient, drawing on deep wells of leadership, expertise, and passion to overcome long-standing barriers to racial justice. Their vision remains true: Every student deserves to have their histories, perspectives, and contributions reflected in their K-12 classrooms with educators who are prepared and supported to teach. 

In coalition with the Oregon Partners for Education Justice, we’re determined to marshal greater support for educators as they prepare to implement Oregon’s ethnic studies standards before the 2026 deadline. We’re grateful that the Governor’s Office and the Oregon Department of Education are stepping in to problem-solve and offer support in the meantime, even as we continue calling on the Legislature to fulfill their promise to Oregon youth