The push to recruit and retain more educators of color

Public schools across the country are more racially and linguistically diverse than ever, including the students in Salem-Keizer Public Schools. But most of the educators who work with them are not. 

About 54% of Salem-Keizer’s nearly 42,000 students identify as a race or ethnicity other than white. This includes Latino/Hispanic, Black/African American, Pacific Islander, Native American and indigenous students.

By comparison, 13% of teachers, 15% of administrators and 30% of classified staff are racially or ethnically diverse.

When staff diversity better reflects that of its students, studies show, there are higher expectations, stronger communities and better outcomes for students and staff. 

Salem-Keizer’s staff diversity has steadily increased in recent years, and the district has several programs in place to help hire more educators of color.

But many argue more needs to be done, ranging from more financial assistance to complete higher education degrees and obtain teacher licenses to providing more advancement opportunities for staff of color. 

Read the full story here.

Community activists pursue new efforts to continue fight against racism

Groups such as Sit-In Salem, Black Joy Oregon and Latinos Unidos Siempre have been especially active the past six months with regular protests, petitions and other efforts to change the way area agencies and leaders address racial discrimination.

They’ve held protests calling for more equitable and transparent police practices.

They’ve called out members of the Salem-Keizer School Board for racist remarks or alleged affiliations with white supremacy groups, demanding their resignations.

And they’ve participated in national conversations following the deaths of people of color at the hands of police this year, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

But local organizers are changing tactics in the new year. Perhaps most notable, they’ve stopped hosting rallies at the Capitol.

This decision was made largely out of safety concerns. Recent rallies have been met with counter-protests from right-wing and white supremacist groups, some of whom have physically confronted local activists.

“We see a growing group of (people) willing to put in the work, but on many fronts, they’re either met with indecision, apathy or straight-up violence.” …

Read the full story here.

Q&A: Salem-Keizer NAACP elects first new president in a decade

The Salem-Keizer branch of the NAACP will have a newly elected president for the first time in 10 years. Come January, Reginald Richardson, Sr. will take over the role, following the decade-long tenure of Benny Williams. 

The Statesman Journal spoke with Richardson about his previous experiences and plans for his new role.

Read the full interview here.

School board approves restriction on public comment

The Salem-Keizer School Board approved an amendment to its governing policies, giving the chairperson more defined power to restrict public comment.

Since June, activists have testified repeatedly about issues surrounding the treatment of Black and brown students in the district.

Speakers have consistently critiqued select board members for alleged racist acts and affiliations, and the rest of the board’s refusal to condemn these behaviors.

Chairman Satya Chandragiri has cut off some speakers — almost all of whom have been young people of color — saying they were off-topic. Most of their comments have called for the resignation of individual board members, mostly aimed at Marty Heyen, Paul Kyllo and Kathy Goss.

In response, Chandragiri presented an amendment to board policies in November that would require speakers be civil.

Read the full story here.

Child with Trisomy 13 defies condition labeled ‘incompatible with life’

Journey Love Hoffman was given seven days to live. 

Born with an extra chromosome, Journey was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 13. The rare genetic condition, also known as Patau syndrome, affects about one in every 10,000-16,000 babies and is described as “incompatible with life.”

About 90% of the babies who survive through birth die in their first year.

But Journey turned 2 this December. She has several surgeries ahead of her as her family navigates continuous health challenges and barriers to getting help, yet they remain grateful.

Read the full story here.

Newcomer challenges Keizer incumbent for state House seat

Democratic newcomer Ramiro “RJ” Navarro Jr. wants to represent District 25 in the Oregon House of Representatives. To do so, he has to beat Bill Post, the three-term Republican incumbent who intends to serve two more years.

Read the full story here.

Oregon measure 109: Voters to decide fate of ‘magic mushroom’ therapy

Measure 109 would make Oregon the first state in the nation allowed to manufacture, deliver and administer psilocybin products and psilocybin-assisted therapy at supervised and licensed facilities.

The measure, if voters in November pass it, also would impose a two-year development period for the Oregon Health Authority to establish parameters for the new therapy. 

Some of Oregon’s medical and psychiatric leaders, including the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association, argue the measure isn’t what it seems, and the effects of the therapy have not been adequately studied.

Read the full story here.

District allows teachers to wear Black Lives Matter shirts

A recent Facebook post in a local, private, parents’ group preceded Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ release of new district-wide guidelines on what educators can and cannot do when it comes to social activism, including state rules on political activity.

Read the full story here.

Families, teachers overwhelmed as school year starts amid COVID-19, fires

With the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon wildfires in the background, families and educators in Salem-Keizer schools are beginning the new year amid confusion, chaos and, for some, traumatic loss. 

Many families ran into several technical issues in the first week as well. Read the full story here.

District leadership misses deadline on school resource officer contracts decision

Salem-Keizer School Board members and district leadership gave themselves a deadline to determine whether to continue contracts for school resource officers in the 2020-21 school year and beyond. But the deadline has come and gone.

Read the full story here.

%d bloggers like this: