Oregon Democrats are working hard to maintain control of public schools by introducing a new bill that would secure the positions of district superintendents regardless of voters’ wishes.
The small town of Newberg, Ore., made national headlines last fall when the newly elected school board voted to adopt a policy that bans educators from displaying Black Lives Matter and gay pride symbols in classrooms, eventually broadening the policy to prohibit district employees from displaying all types of political symbols. The vote came after six months of rioting in downtown Portland that cost the city millions.
Joining the majority in the 4-3 vote to implement the policy, Board Chair Dave Brown emphasized, “We need to get moving back towards education,” adding “we’ve been derailed for quite a while.” Newberg Superintendent Joe Morelock refused to enforce the policy in what the board deemed a timely manner, and was subsequently fired in November 2021 by the school board.
Making Superintendents Practically Unfireable
Senate Bill 1521 appears to be Democrats’ response to the so-called “no cause” termination of Morelock by the Newberg School Board under the terms of his contract. If passed, the new law would prevent school boards from no-cause firing of superintendents in the future.
The bill proposes provisions for the termination of superintendents prior to the expiration of their contracts. It states:
If the superintendent and the district school board mutually agree to include a termination-without-cause provision in the contract, the district school board may terminate the superintendent’s employment, without cause, at any time during the contract period only if the district school board provides the superintendent with at least 12 months’ notice of the termination. Nothing in this subparagraph authorizes the district school board to make a wrongful termination or a termination for any reason described in subsection (3)(a) of this section.
In a public testimony opposing the bill, Ben Edtl, CEO of the nonpartisan group Free Oregon, called the bill “absolutely senseless.”
“Given that the [Oregon Department of Education] runs one of the worst performing public school systems in the nation, why would it make any sense to give more power to the state over local school districts?” he asked. “Considering that the school board members were democratically elected to remove this political indoctrination from their public school district, there must be no other way to interpret SB 1521 as an anti-democratic attempt to block taxpayers from influencing the public education they pay for.”
Deterring the Opposition
Oregon public school leaders do not take kindly to opposition to extremist racial and gender ideology. Parents Defending Education flagged a video last April of a teacher in the Beaverton School District threatening other teachers “it’s going to lead to being fired” if they are “not evolving into an anti-racist educator.”
Later, an audio clip leaked to The Daily Wire seems to show that the Beaverton Superintendent Don Grotting implied a similar threat to teachers:
I do want the message to get out there that this [anti-racism training] isn’t optional anymore. We’ve waited for the willing, and if you’re not willing then maybe this isn’t the right place for you to work. Maybe we can free up your future, because if we’re going to become an anti-racist school district, it can’t just be a few people, it needs to be everybody, to include our staff, our students, our community, eventually everyone.
In light of this track record, voters should not be surprised that Democrats want to use S.B. 1521 to keep school boards elected by frustrated parents from cleaning house.
Oregon Ed Department Pushes Its Own Propaganda
After all, legislation was passed in Oregon last year to require a half-credit of civics education for students to receive a high school diploma — which we all know will end up forcing more left-wing propaganda into the classroom.
ODE has insisted that “there is a long and painful history of racial bias in education.” According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, state education officials have signaled that while “teaching critical race theory is not mandated in any state standards … including students from diverse backgrounds in what they’re learning is one of ODE’s goals.”
Meanwhile, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill last August that ends the requirement for high school students to demonstrate reading, writing, and arithmetic proficiency to graduate.
According to ODE, “Students are ready for systems and institutions to change. Creating a just and equitable learning environment that embraces the history and experiences of its learners is not only good for students, but also for our communities and our shared future.” Sadly, “just and equitable learning” often means political signage in the classrooms of teachers whose main role should be to teach much-needed reading, writing, and arithmetic minus political agendas.
Nobody should be surprised by Democrats’ underhanded education tactics. Despite a growing number of states and even blue cities like Denver that are dropping mandates, Oregon is doubling down. Despite fervent opposition, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) published permanent rules in January relating to Covid-19 vaccination and masking requirements for K-12 schools. The permanent rules replaced temporary rules that were soon to expire.
It seems Oregon is competing with its West Coast counterparts in passing the most extreme laws, beginning with the education system and Oregon’s most innocent players: its children.