In the early days of the pandemic, a broad coalition of community-based organizations, education advocates, and business groups urged Governor Kate Brown and state leaders to reaffirm Oregon’s commitment to educational equity and “act with children as our north star.” This call to action couldn’t be more important as the Oregon Legislature prepares to rebalance the state budget.
We’re grateful to see draft budgets prioritize children’s learning and health by drawing on reserve funds to avoid deeper cuts. But in this biennium and beyond, we must reckon with the fact that Black, Indigenous, and other children of color are bearing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and prolonged school closures on top of the sustained trauma of systemic racism in our schools.
It’s time to raise our collective voice and make sure Oregon’s dollars reach our most vulnerable children. “Too often, when we are forced to do more with less, we see equity and accountability investments fall by the wayside,” we reminded state legislators in testimony this morning as we reflect on cuts to the Student Success Act. “It begs the question of whether Oregon’s commitment to equity is real.”
At Chalkboard, we believe equity investments are fundamentally shifting how we think about schools and learning from birth to graduation. They offer a blueprint for building a more resilient, accountable, and just public education system.
In this time of great challenge and uncertainty, we must create space for hope and transformation. That’s why we’re calling on the Oregon Legislature to create a diverse work group of legislators, impacted communities, and stakeholders to courageously redesign how our state funds education. Rather than patching together programs and funds, we need a coherent, stable, and aligned system that promotes equity and improves outcomes statewide.
Above all, this must be a collaborative effort—it will take all of us to ensure Oregon supports every child to learn, grow, and thrive.
Chalkboard Project / Foundations for a Better Oregon