The Mission of the Oregon Democrats’ Education Caucus is to support the Democratic Party’s goal of enhancing public education in Oregon. For the purposes of this Caucus, “Education” means the informing and training of students through formal instruction and supervised practice. “Public” means education that is answerable to appropriate government entities, funded by public revenues, and inclusive of all Oregon residents.
The Democratic Party of Oregon Education Caucus supports students returning to school as soon as it is safely possible. While we recognize the importance of in-person learning, we cannot support the reopening of public school campuses until there are at least 14 successive days of no new cases and sufficient testing and contact tracing are in place in the county where the school campus is located, full funding to support all aspects of a safe reopening (including necessary physical distancing, sanitation, and other virus prevention measures recommended by medical science experts), as well as adequate resources for all children.
Meanwhile, children who are forced into a remote system of learning must also be provided with adequate resources, including individual educational devices for each child, reliable access to internet services, and support for mental and emotional health. Districts need some flexibility to determine what works best for them and to secure the resources they need to succeed, but this flexibility must honor the core safety concerns.
We also believe it is important to note that the inequities boldly rearing their heads in either a return to in-person schooling or distance learning have lurked below the surface for many years, often visible only to educators and the students and families affected. These inequities continue to require remedies both inside and outside of the public school system.
We recognize that these are difficult criteria, but our children, teachers and staff are not guinea pigs to test the waters in an unknown medical environment that could lead to serious consequences now and in the future.
12/6 Meeting Minutes
11/17 Meeting Materials
8/11 Meeting Materials
5/19 Meeting Materials
Read our latest meeting minutes
DPO Education Caucus Officers
Chair: Kathleen Jeskey
Vice Chair: Scott Hays
Communications Secretary: Betsy Salter
Recording Secretary: Lisa Stiller
State Central Committee Delegate: Ross Swartzendruber
State Central Committee Alternate: Louise Currin
Read the Education Caucus Bylaws
Article 2 – EDUCATION: Public Education; Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12; Post-Secondary Schools; Vocational Training Oregon Democrats believe public schools are a foundation to our democracy and essential to promoting an informed citizenry. We believe equitable, stable schools provide all students with universal access to a high-quality education from pre-kindergarten through higher education. We acknowledge that quality public education for all students allows each student to reach their full potential and not only enriches personal lives but also strengthens our economy and is crucial to a well-functioning democracy. We support fully funding public schools in accordance with the Quality Education Model (QEM). Our students deserve comprehensive educational opportunities reflected in the arts, civics, critical thinking, history, sciences, physical education, mathematics, economics, languages, technology, libraries and librarian support, alternative education, and other disciplines that develop the whole child.
- We support free public education, from birth through Grade 12, and we believe every Oregon student should have the opportunity to attend publicly funded college, university, or a vocational program tuition-free. We believe in reducing and/or eliminating existing student loan debt and eliminating predatory student loan practices.
- We oppose the use of public funds for private schools, private charter schools, vouchers or other strategies, such as Education Savings Accounts or Social Impact Bonds, to shift public funds away from public schools.
- We support smaller class sizes to better meet student needs. We strongly encourage the State of Oregon to adopt its own fully-funded, high-quality standards that keep education student-centered from birth through Grade 12.
- We support a whole child approach to education that encourages students to acquire general knowledge and to become accomplished at respecting others, thinking critically, working collaboratively and creatively, and acting in ways that are fair and just. This includes providing culturally responsive curriculum, restorative practices, and applying critical race theory.
- We oppose high stakes testing as an instructional model or as a primary strategy to determine student success or school effectiveness. We oppose high stakes testing as a strategy to sort students by their proficiency or schools by their effectiveness.
- We support multiple assessment strategies to determine student success. We recognize that a student’s teacher is the person most qualified to determine student success. We oppose so-called “merit pay” based upon student test scores.
- We support having professionally licensed teachers who reflect Oregon’s demographics in the classroom, mentoring of all teachers new to the profession, and meaningful professional development for all teachers.
- We support fair, rational evaluation of educator effectiveness by educators and endorse the collaborative evaluation of instructors and administrators, employing broad-based assessment methods that recognize and encourage excellence and ongoing improvement. We support assisting educators in meeting performance expectations.
- We recognize poverty and socioeconomic status are primary factors in determining student success and school effectiveness. We support providing low-income schools with increased financial support. We support the concept of “wrap-around services” to provide students with support such as: mentoring, after-school programs, and other programs that have proven effective.
- We insist that charter and virtual schools receiving public funds be governed by the same standards applied to traditional schools.
- We believe that Oregon’s schools should have programs to address the persistent racial disparities in educational outcomes with a commitment to English Language Learners and dual language immersion education models.
- We believe that developmentally appropriate, play-based, culturally sensitive opportunities for young children should be a high educational priority.
- We support the rights of educational professionals to freely and collectively negotiate instructional and educational issues that enhance opportunities for student learning as well as working conditions, wages, benefits, and employment stability.
- We support local control of our public schools, which is transparent and accountable to the electorate. We believe funding provided for the management of any public school in Oregon should be subject to public inspection and audit whether that management is done in-house or contracted out.
- We believe the relationship between teachers and their students is essential to the learning process and that educational professionals best meet students’ individual needs, as opposed to misuse or over reliance on electronic applications distributed under the guise of “personalized learning.”
- We believe students and families do not surrender personal rights upon enrollment in public school. EdTech or “personalized learning,” allows for collection of personal student information. Statewide longitudinal databases put this data at risk. To assure privacy, we support full protection of all student data, including mental health records.
- We believe students perform better when in good health. Therefore, we support full funding for nutrition programs (including breakfast and lunch), counseling (including school counseling and mental health counseling), and health services (including school nurses and school-based health centers).
- We promote comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in school curriculum in Oregon.
- We believe curriculum-based community service learning and place-based education builds a sense of personal efficacy and empowerment and provide opportunities for children to see themselves as leaders and activists, and should be a high educational priorities.
- We promote comprehensive climate literacy education in school curriculum in Oregon so that students can probe the causes and consequences of the climate crisis as well as solutions.