Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Voices from Coos Bay: OEIB Funding Forum

A teacher in Coos Bay sent this report along to Oregon Save Our Schools as he/she attended the Coos Bay OEIB Funding Priorities Forum.   What is clear is that the public was not supportive of the OEIB plan and again feel that the state needs to get back on track to having a serious discussion about how we will fund our schools and provide a well-rounded education.  
--Oregon SOS

There were about 80 people there.  I think 32 spoke out. It was cordial, but people spoke their minds and the audience (usually) clapped when the speaker was finished speaking.  There were no outright positive comments about the board and their work.  A couple people thanked them and said they had a difficult job.

People spoke about:
  • Funding
  • Stable funding
  • Library funding
  • Funding additional employees
  • Fixing and modernizing buildings
  • Decreasing class size
  • Helping the impoverished
  • Demoralized teachers
  • Not funding community colleges based on diploma/degree completion

Some speakers said the OEIB was not listening, that they were disappointed only one board member showed up, that the board needed to get into classrooms and see how policy is ‘hitting the ground,’ that the event should have been advertised (one woman said the only reason she knew about the meeting was from an ‘occupy’ email,) that there was a lack of trust (one person said, “I don’t trust you, and you clearly don’t trust me.”)

Below is testimony from Teri Jones who authorized using her speech here: 

Hi, I’m Teri Harris Jones, a member of OSEA and current chapter #33 president.  I am also a library media clerk for Madison Elementary School.

1.       I believe education employees are our greatest resource.  To achieve success with any initiative, to meet any standard, we must have a strong workforce, certified and classified.  Tonight I’m speaking on behalf of my hundred plus classified employees.

The loss of adequate education funding has been responsible for position cuts, reduced hours, benefits and professional development opportunities for classified employees.  Classified positions include maintenance, secretarial, accounting, Special Ed, E.A.’s, speech path assistants, and library media clerks.  In some districts, food service and transportation are included.  A school district cannot run efficiently without us.  Our students deserve to be served by a classified workforce that is primarily comprised of 40 hour a week employees that are part of their schools professional learning community.

2.        The second issue I want to address is School Libraries.
  • If you want to improve test scores…
  • If you want to better prepare preschoolers for kindergarten…
  • If you want students to have the needed vocabulary for learning…
  • If you want students to achieve the informational literacy skills they need in the 21st century…
We are your program.

Thank you.

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