SKCE Executive Director testimony at the Oregon Education Investment Board meeting

We are coming close to the Oregon 2015 Legislative Session. One issue being brought before the Legislature is a proposal to change the ELL funding formula and accountability measures. The Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality has advocated for these changes for 14 years. Since 1992, districts have received a weight of 0.5 in additional funding, currently about $3,725, per ELL student. But accountability measures were never built in to the policy.

Some districts spend 100% of the funds on ELL programs. Other districts spend less than 50%. The money goes into the general fund to be used as districts wish. There is no maximum number of years the district can receive the weighted funding for each ELL student so there is no incentive to “graduate” students out of ELL programs.

Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton has submitted a proposal to OEIB to reform the way Oregon allocates ELL funding. The key elements of this proposal are:

• Increase the ELL weight from 0.5 to 0.6
• Limit funding from 4 years up to 7 years according to student levels of proficiency
• Hold districts accountable to spend 90% of the ELL funds on ELL services
• Give districts an incentive: a bonus of $250 for every current or former ELL student who graduates from that district

Another issue being brought to the Legislature concerns the way ODE funds community organizations. Generally, community organizations have a difficult time raising enough education funding to do the critical work they do with disadvantaged children in order to raise their achievement. Research shows that it takes the combined efforts of the community, the school and the family to ensure a child succeeds, especially when that child is part of an underserved population.

In addition, underserved populations need organizations with special skills gained by being part of the culture of those they serve. These are called culturally specific organizations, and we are one of these. We are part of the community we serve and no one knows the community better than the community itself. We can bring solutions that don’t fit a generic methodology. Our solutions are culturally relevant and uniquely tailored to those we serve.

We strongly encourage the Oregon Department of Education to eliminate the disparities our children face in education and part of that work is to eliminate the disparities that our culturally specific organizations face in receiving funding from ODE.


First Ever Oregon House Education Committee hearing on ELLs Education

On Monday, May 13th, The Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality, Stand for Children, Chalkboard Project, Adelante Mujeres and other organizations in the Oregon Alliance for Education Equity (OAEE) joined forces to put together the first ever legislative hearing in the House Education Committee on English Language Learner (ELL) student achievement in our state.  This hearing served as a call to action for our state leaders to work to improve the academic achievement of ELL students.

The members of the Committee heard testimony from Toya Flick, Legislative Director for Stand for Children, David Bautista, Oregon Dept. of Education Deputy Superintendent, two expert researchers from Education Northwest, a retired master ELL teacher, a Latina immigrant mother from Reynolds School District and a Caucasian mother of a Latino ELL student from Salem, Joseph Santos from the APANO network (Asian and Pacific and Micronesians Islanders network), Leonard Terrible, a master high school teacher of ELL students from Forest Grove, and from our Executive Director Eduardo Angulo among others.

The Committee members want to continue the conversation with this group of ELL advocates and want to response to the call to action and seeking champions of the cause for equal education for these 56,000 students.

ELL children make up 11 percent of students in Oregon public schools. The rate at which the ELL student population is growing within Oregon schools is reason enough for educators and policymakers to try to better understand the educational needs of these students. But a greater concern is the staggering achievement gap between ELL students and their English-proficient peers.

The academic achievement gaps between English-language learners and their native English-speaking peers are well documented and begin early. These disparities continue through middle and high school – with less than 53 percent of Oregon’s ELL students graduating in four years.

Further, Oregon ELL students’ average scores on NAEP tests are well below the national average for ELLs in reading and math, at both 4th and 8th grade levels.  In 4th grade reading, Oregon ranks 33rd among other states; in 4th grade math, 39th; in 8th grade reading, 26th; and in 8th grade math, we do slightly better at 17th.

If you could not make it to the hearing, see a gallery of images from the hearing. If you would like receive updates on future hearings sign up for our announcements under the “Get Email News!” headline on the right side of this website.

Gov. Kitzhaber signs Driver’s card bill at the May Day Rally

Governor Kitzhaber signs Senate Bill 833 into law in front of thousands immigrants and immigrant rights supporters on the steps of the Oregon Capitol.

News coverage:

The Oregonian: Salem May Day 2013