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Advocacy Institute brings Oregon perspective to D.C.

By Lori Sattenspiel, interim director of legislative services

School board members are heading to Washington, D.C., this weekend to tell the Oregon story. Of course, there isn’t just one Oregon story. Every district is unique, with different priorities and challenges. The message for secure rural schools funding sounds different in Douglas County than in Multnomah County.

Members of the OSBA Board of Directors and Legislative Policy Committee will join them to help them tell their stories. We will meet with Oregon’s congressional delegation as part of the National School Boards Association's 2017 Advocacy Institute, which runs Jan. 29-31. Board members will have the opportunity to share their districts’ triumphs and challenges with Oregon’s congressional delegation.

This year’s Advocacy Institute includes two days of workshops designed to help school board members from around the nation understand the policy and political climate related to K-12 issues in Congress. Our Advocacy Institute attendees will meet with the Oregon delegation and other members of Congress and ask them to continue using congressional oversight authority to ensure the promise of restoring state and local governance and flexibility in the administration of federal programs.

With the change in presidents, there is tremendous transition going on in and around education. The Donald Trump administration has the potential to change the direction of education policy that the Barack Obama administration had been working on. 

Of particular interest will be how this administration plans to move forward with continued implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act in December 2015. Oregon is working for added flexibility with ESSA, but so far, there has been nothing specific indicating the president’s intentions.

OSBA board members heading to Washington, D.C., for the Advocacy Institute include President Betty Reynolds (West Linn-Wilsonville School Board), President-elect LeeAnn Larsen (Beaverton SD), Vice President Tass Morrison (North Santiam SD), Secretary-treasurer Don Cruise (Philomath SD), Past President  Doug Nelson (High Desert ESD), Cheri Helt (Bend-LaPine SD), Kris Howatt (Gresham-Barlow SD), Hank Perry (Douglas ESD), and Maureen Wolf (Tigard-Tualatin SD). Also attending as members of OSBA’s Legislative Policy Committee are Andrew Bryan (Baker SD), Kim Strelchun (Hillsboro SD) and Dawn Watson (Phoenix-Talent SD).

Jim Green, OSBA’s executive director, said the occasion gives participants insight into education policy at the federal level.

“It’s important for our local school board members to meet with members of Congress to advocate for Oregon students,” he said.

More information about the NSBA Advocacy Institute program can be found on the NSBA website.