This week, I met with parents in East Multnomah County where I work as an organizer. We took time to catch up on education issues that impact students in Oregon. They were thrilled to hear that HB 3499, the bill to improve programs for English learners, would likely pass this week (which it did!). On the other hand, ironically and simultaneously, our lawmakers were busy dismantling the system that helped us identify the need for that bill. This upset parents, so we decided that we couldn’t stay quiet.
HB 2655, a bill encouraging students to refuse the statewide assessment is on its way to Governor Brown’s desk. Not only does this bill violate a federal law and jeopardize $140 to $325 million in funding annually, it dismantles a system put in place to protect our most at-risk children. Join me and my colleagues and ask Governor Brown to veto this bill!
States are required to test at least 95 percent of students so they can objectively measure achievement and ensure all children, no matter their zip code, have access to a quality education. If a state violates this law, they risk losing Title I funds that are meant for schools in our poorest neighborhoods. I looked it up, and that means these parents' school districts could lose about $5 million dollars!!
A few editorial boards published information about how much their local school districts stand to lose:
- Medford Mail Tribune
- Ashland Daily Tidings
- The Register-Guard
- View the entire list of Title I allocations by school district.
The quietest voices in Salem are often children from underserved communities – such as children of color, children living in poverty, and students learning English. These are the children who would be most harmed by HB 2655. Many parents and community members are upset to be learning about this harmful bill, and you should be too.
How can we plan to close achievement gaps if we don't have data that highlights them? Until federal law required that states test all students, schools could mask disparities by excusing certain groups from taking tests. States did not have a complete picture of student achievement gaps, and therefore did not have to allocate the resources that would give low-performing students a fair shot at success.
Thank you for standing with me for children!