Community reimagines education in Oregon

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Community reimagines education in Oregon

9:08 p.m. PDT April 28, 2016

After the Every Student Succeeds Act replaced No Child Left Behind in December 2015, the Oregon Department of Education asked: “How will this affect education in Oregon?”

To bring parents, school workers, students and other community members into the conversation, the department has been hosting town halls across the state.

Thursday night was the Mid-Valley forum, held at Claggett Creek Middle School in Keizer.

About 100 people gathered in the cafeteria to take part.

Attendees said they care about student engagement and opportunities, high-quality teachers and a change in testing.

ESSA is the most recent version of the federal law known as The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which came into effect in 1965 to address equity in the country.

ESSA replaced the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act when it was signed by President Barack Obama in December 2015.

New possibilities with ESSA include “assessment, accountability, school improvement, and educator effectiveness,” said Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor.

Noor said the purpose of the forums is to learn and listen, so these possibilities become part of Oregon policy.

“Under the new law, we can think more broadly and more creatively,” he said. “We want this to be the beginning of many conversations.”

Under ESSA, state and local leaders will have much more of an influence in education.

Noor said the forum was a chance for people to ask what types of schools Oregonians want to have, what kind of opportunities they want to be available to students.

“Opportunities like this only happen once and we need to get it right,” said Salem-Keizer superintendent Christy Perry.

When the groups presented what they spoke about in their small groups, they said they are passionate about many topics, including highly qualified teachers, school climate/culture and student engagement, the importance of community partnerships, student independence, smaller class sizes, diversity and inclusivity in schools, finding multiple measures of student success, and family involvement.

The Oregon Department of Education plans to hold these forums through June. In August, the department will have the public comment on draft of the plan and the final state plan, pending federal approval, will be ready by fall of 2016.

The Mid-Valley forum was the fifth of 12 stops across the state.

People can share suggestions or send questions to ESSA.Oregon@state.or.us or www.ode.state.or.us/go/ESSA.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

Upcoming town halls:

  • Ontario: Monday, May 2, 6 p.m. Four Rivers Cultural Center (River Rooms), 676 SW 5th Avenue
  • Eugene: Tuesday, May 10, 6 p.m. South Eugene High School (Cafeteria), 400 East 19th Avenue
  • Portland: Thursday, May 12,6 p.m. (Location to be determined.)
  • Portland: Monday, May 16, 6 p.m. (Location to be determined.)
  • Coos Bay: Monday, May 23, 6 p.m. Southwestern Oregon Community College (Lakeview Rooms in Hales Center/Empire Hall), 1988 Newmark Avenue
  • Hood River: Wednesday, May 25, 6 p.m. Best Western Hood River Inn (Columbia Room), 108 East Marina Way
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