2023 Session Summary
On June 25th, legislators officially crossed the finish line for the 2023 Oregon Legislative session. This session proved to be one of the most eventful and challenging in recent memory, filled with unexpected twists and turns that tested the resilience of all involved.
Notably, this session was marked by the extraordinary event of Senate Republicans walking out for six weeks, effectively threatening to bring the entire session to a grinding halt. Moreover, the session unfolded amidst surprising financial revelations, as the revenue forecast surpassed expectations by a staggering $2 billion, paving the way for historic investments in education, climate, and housing policies. From expanding healthcare to changing our state vegetable, this session was one for the books.
Throughout the session, hundreds of OEA members actively worked to champion their students and their profession. They devoted their time to advocate in a variety of ways, including testifying before lawmakers, participating in letter writing campaigns, urging their representatives to support crucial bills, and openly sharing their personal stories and experiences as educators. Thanks to their unwavering dedication, OEA was able to pass its priority legislation.
Oregon students and educators have achieved significant victories that will greatly benefit them. These accomplishments include the provision of vital tools and resources to K-12 public schools and community colleges, as well as fully funding Oregon's public education system. Despite the added pressures and upheavals caused by the senate walkout, members from all corners of the state collaborated to secure historic victories for the advancement of public education.
2023 Legislative Victories
Part-time community college faculty deserve well-earned compensation and health benefits. In 2021, OEA members won health care coverage for part-time community college faculty. This bill improves the statute by requiring that dental and vision are included in health benefits available to part-time faculty members.
Requires school districts to make the SEED Survey and Student Health Survey available to students for the purpose of giving students a voice to the school accountability framework, and additionally provides parents and guardians with notice and opportunity to review the survey before it is administered. This change will help expand the measurement of school quality and student success beyond standardized tests.
These (surveys) are critical questions to understanding student experiences and how those voices connect to what is and is not working in our schools.
HB 2740 makes the method for calculating hours of employment for academic employees of community colleges and public universities consistent for part-time and full-time faculty. This will improve and streamline the ability for part-time faculty to qualify for benefits, including healthcare.
Investing in licensure and mentorship programs to support new educators will help stabilize and diversify the workforce. This bill increases the amount of scholarships from $10,000 to $12,000 that the Higher Education Coordinating Commission may award to culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates to attend approved education preparation programs.
I believe that programs like this are a critical part of the state infrastructure to knock down barriers to becoming an educator, especially those often disenfranchised or marginalized in our communities.
OEA members passed a resolution in 2022 that supports reading instruction based on the science of reading with the appropriate interventions. This bill establishes the Early Literacy Success Initiative, Birth Through Five Literacy Plan, and Early Literacy Success Community Grant program.
This $120 million investment will prioritize reading and writing proficiency for elementary school students and address historic disparities for under-served students by:
- Providing literacy support for students from birth through grade 3;
- Ensuring all Oregon schools are able to offer culturally aligned, research-aligned, student and family-centered literacy curricula and making curricula and materials available;
- Supporting educators in training and coaching to get the best possible outcomes for students;
- Funding summer learning programs and after school/extended learning programs to help under-served students meet their full potential; and
- Investing in targeted, accelerated tutoring for under-served students to help them meet their goals.
Appropriates money from the General Fund to the Department of Education for certain biennial expenses, plus an additional $17 million state investment within the ODE budget so that as many as 200 additional schools can offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.
OEA advocates for adequate and stable funding for K-12 public schools. Given rising costs and an ongoing workforce crisis, to fully operate Oregon public schools, a strong base budget is the top financial need. This bill appropriates money from the General Fund to the Department of Education for the State School Fund.
More than 35 members signed up to testify and advocate at the Ways & Means Roadshow Hearings to advocate for State School Funding and investments in OEA’s budget priorities. Ultimately this advocacy work led to a record appropriation of $10.2 billion investment, $700 million above current service level.
I will continue to fight for the schools, the students, and the teachers because education is the solution. Ideas, intelligence, community, creativity, compassion, critical thinking. These are the solutions. They start at school.
OEA advocates for adequate and stable funding for community colleges, especially as community colleges face declining enrollment. This bill appropriates money from the General Fund to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for certain biennial expenses.
The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s budget included $800 million for Oregon’s Community Colleges and $300 million for the Oregon Opportunity Grant - the statewide financial aid program for low-income Oregonians. It also includes roughly $24 million to continue the Oregon Tribal Student Grant, an aid program for students from Oregon tribes.
Community colleges play a crucial role as engines of opportunity, supporting economic mobility by offering students vital pathways to quality careers and living wages. This education provides the backbone and legacy for our children, our communities, our country and the world.
This bill enacts the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, supports recruitment of educators by streamlining the TSPC licensure attainment process for licensed educators who are new to the state.
OEA members deserve professional working conditions and wages that ensure that the profession is financially sustainable. This omnibus bill directs the Department of Education to develop and implement a plan to establish and maintain statewide data system on education workforce in state, and to convene a steering committee to assist in development of business case for statewide data system. It includes long-term policies meant to address the needs of Oregon’s education workforce, including:
- More data about the workforce, job satisfaction, and shortages;
- Pay differentials for the state’s special education workforce;
- Minimum hours for classified jobs;
- Increased protections for classified staff;
- Employee status for substitute teachers;
- A study of statewide minimum salaries;
- A task force to examine statewide salary schedules;
- Funding for apprenticeships and mentorship;
- A public relations campaign to attract Oregonians into public education work; and
- Provisions to encourage retirees to continue working.
Additional 2023 Session Efforts
- OEA prevented passage of 12 bills relating to charter schools or vouchers that were intended to carve out or completely repeal the Corporate Activities Tax (passed 2019), which provides the funding for the Student Success Act. Over 800 OEA members took action to oppose these bills.
- OEA supported the successful passage of HB 2002, which modifies provisions relating to reproductive health rights. In Oregon we believe that everyone deserves access to the full spectrum of reproductive and gender-affirming care
2023 Legislative Scorecard
OEA rates legislators on a 1-5 star scale based on their performance on OEA priorities in 2023. This includes their voting record on 2023 priority bills, sponsorship/co-sponsorship of priority bills, demonstrated leadership on public education issues consistent with OEA goals and values, and other actions throughout the session that showed a commitment to supporting Oregon educators, schools, and OEA.
2023 Star Rating
Very strong voting record on 2023 priority bills. Sponsored/co-sponsored multiple priority bills. Demonstrated strong leadership on public education issues, and was a trusted ally who actively advocated for educators and public schools throughout the session. Proactively connected with OEA staff and members for input on important issues.
Strong voting record on 2023 priority bills. May have sponsored/co-sponsored one or more priority bills in 2023. Advocated for educators and public schools in committee and/or on the floor. Communicated with OEA staff and members, and invited input on important issues.
Mixed voting record on 2023 priority bills. May have sponsored/co-sponsored one or more priority bills. Occasionally proved to be a positive voice for educators and public schools in committee and/or on the floor. Occasionally connected with OEA staff or members during session, but not consistently.
Low-mixed voting record on 2023 priority bills. Did not sponsor/co-sponsor priority bills. May have occasionally provided input during committees and on the floor that aligns with OEA’s goals and values, but not consistently. Did not communicate with OEA staff and members.
Disappointing voting record on 2023 priority bills. Did not sponsor/co-sponsor any priority bills. Consistently voiced positions in contrast to OEA’s goals and values. Actively worked in opposition to educators, public schools, and/or OEA staff and members. Participated in legislative walk-out, stifling democracy.
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