WHAT IS BPAC?
The Beaverton Teachers Political Action Committee (BPAC) is a committee made up of BEA members who guide the political activity of our local union. We conduct interviews and endorse candidates for public office, engage members in political action and communicate with members about local political advocacy.
Below are the endorsements from BPAC, PAT-PAC, and OEA PAC for the November election. All PAC endorsement decisions are made by groups of union educators who interview candidates and endorse those who will advocate for strong and fully funded public education as well as workers’ rights.
⇒ YES on Measure 34-321(BSD teachers’ levy)
⇒ Ken Helm (House District 27)
⇒ Lisa Reynolds (House District 34)
⇒ Farrah Chaichi (House District 35)
⇒ Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (Senate District 17)
⇒ Wlnsvey Campos (Senate District 18)
PORTLAND ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS (PAT) ENDORSEMENTS:
⇒ Jo Ann Hardesty (Portland City Council Position 3)
⇒ Jessica Vega Pederson (Multnomah County Chair)
⇒ Dacia Grayber (House District 28)
⇒ Maxine Dexter (House District 33)
⇒ Tawna Sanchez (House District 43)
⇒ Travis Nelson (House District 44)
⇒ Thuy Tran (House District 45)
⇒ Khanh Pham (House District 46)
⇒ Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (Senate District 17)
⇒ YES on Portland Measure 26-288 (changes the way Portland City Council is elected)
⇒ Tina Kotek (Governor)
⇒ Christina Stephenson (BOLI Commissioner)
⇒ Ron Wyden (US Senate)
⇒ Suzanne Bonamici (Congressional District 1)
⇒ Earl Blumenauer (Congressional District 3)
⇒ Val Hoyle (Congressional District 4)
⇒ Jamie McLeod-Skinner (Congressional District 5)
⇒ Andrea Salinas (Congressional District 6)
⇒ YES on Measure 111 (State must ensure affordable healthcare access, balanced against requirement to fund schools, other essential services)
⇒ YES on Measure 112 (remove language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime)
⇒ YES on Measure 113 (Legislators with ten unexcused absences from floor sessions disqualified from holding next term of office.)
⇒ YES on Measure 114 (gun violence prevention)
⇒Read all OEA endorsements across the state here
This November, among many other things, the future of our school district is on the ballot. Beaverton voters will be voting on the renewal of the operating levy that currently funds almost 300 teaching positions. This levy renewal won’t increase taxes and will maintain the funding for teaching positions.
This graphic shows how many teachers in each building are currently funded by the levy. Without passing the renewal of the levy, the funding for these positions will go away – resulting in a reduction in positions. As educators in Beaverton, we know how much support our students need. We cannot afford to lose this funding and have our class sizes increase. Join us to talk to voters about the importance of maintaining the funding for teaching positions in Beaverton!
Levy Campaign Events:
Talking face-to-face with voters (canvassing) is the most effective way to ensure that our neighbors vote. We have planned four dates to gather and knock on doors together to talk to Beaverton voters about the importance of renewing the operating levy. Bring a friend and join us on at least one of these days to get the levy passed!
Sunday, October 23rd noon-3 pm
Meet at the BEA Office
Sunday, October 30th, noon-3 pm
Meet at Beaverton City Library
Saturday, November 5th, noon-3 pm
Sunday, November 6th, noon-3 pm
Aloha HS area (Exact meeting place TBD)
Sign up to canvass at bit.ly/BPACGOTV22.
We’ll be forming a gauntlet for every joint bargaining session to show support for the BEA Bargaining Team and to remind the BSD Team that we are united in our demand for a fair contract. Bargaining sessions begin at 4:30 pm, so our presence outside as bargaining team members arrive will be a powerful visual reminder of our strength at the table. Feel free to bring a sign showing your support for the team, highlighting a high class size or caseload, describing what you do during plan time, or demanding a fair contract. Be sure to wear red and bring a colleague with you!
You can sign up to support the BEA Bargaining team in a variety of ways at bit.ly/BEABargain2022
The BSD school board has four positions up for election on May 18th. BPAC has interviewed and endorsed the following four candidates:
- Zone 1 – Susan Greenberg
- Zone 2 – Dr. Karen Pérez da Silva
- Zone 4 – Sunita Garg
- Zone 5 – Ugonna Enyinnaya
If you want to volunteer to help elect these candidates, there are opportunities to phone bank, to drop literature (leave flyers at voters’ homes), to distribute lawn signs, and more. You can sign up here to get more information.
The positions and candidates are as follows:
BEA Executive Board At-Large Positions – 2 year term (3 open positions)
- Julia Barto – 3rd grade teacher at McKinley ES
- Terry Cherney – Special Education teacher at Beaverton HS
- Andrew Dennis – Science teacher at Stoller MS
- Aarti Kamalahasan – Kindergarten teacher at Sato ES
- Betsy Thornewood – Social Studies teacher at Sunset HS
BEA Executive Board Substitute At-Large Position – 2 year term (1 open position)
- Sarah Kennedy – BSD Substitute
BEA Treasurer – 2 year term
- Adam Oyster-Sands – Language Arts teacher at Westview HS
BEA Secretary – 2 year term
- Gretchen Mollers – Outreach and Engagment Specialist TOSA
Our union stands firmly in support of our BIPOC colleagues who are leading critical ABAR work in the Beaverton School District. We believe their words, their lived experiences, and support their passionate calls to action. Here is my statement to district leaders at the School Board meeting last night:
As schools and other institutions across the nation grappled with how to address the pervasive issue of systemic and institutional racism, educators in BSD developed and facilitated an anti-racism workshop for all staff. This past week, months after that workshop took place, comments made by educators were taken completely out of context and were contorted by the national media to be used as part of a larger cultural battle that is taking place in cities and states throughout the country. Rather than leaning into the equity work and acknowledging that every single staff member in BSD has an official role in the equity efforts of our district, Beaverton School District leadership instead chose to distance themselves from their own employees and from the equity training that all district educators attended.
Our member-educators are disturbed by the impact of this incident. We have members who are feeling invalidated, angry, disappointed, hurt, afraid, and some have become the targets of vitriol and threats from people they’ve never met.
The foundation of equity work is love. We do equity work because we care deeply about our students and our community. We need to do this work. We need district leaders to stand with educators who are working to make our school district a safe and welcoming place for our students. We need to thoughtfully and intentionally create spaces where students and educators can be vulnerable and have important conversations. We need BSD to plainly tell, and show, those in our community who seek to undermine our critical anti-racism and anti-bias work that we are undeterred.
The Beaverton Education Association stands with educators who are boldly undertaking this difficult work. We will not allow educators to be intimidated into silence, and we will not stand idly by while this critically important work is attacked in the public square. If we are serious about our commitment to supporting and honoring our students and staff of color, this moment must not go unanswered. BEA members are vocally reaffirming our dedication to making our schools a safe and welcoming space for everyone, and it’s time for BSD leaders to do the same.
Sara Schmitt | she/her/hers
Joint Letter to Governor Brown from the Presidents of the Five Largest Education Associations in Oreong
Sent to the Governor on January 7, 2021
Dear Governor Kate Brown,
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating for so many families; so many Oregonians are impacted by lack of employment, childcare, housing, food, and healthcare security. This pandemic has also been incredibly hard on Oregon’s educators, who are working tirelessly to create a sense of stability and connection for students in a time of such upheaval. As educators, we share your urgency to get students back into our classrooms. Schools are complex social environments, built around collaboration, relationships, and interaction. The best of what public schools do cannot be replicated through a video call. However, this urgent need to create stability and connection for students does not erase the reality that COVID-19 is still spreading in our community, and people’s lives are still at risk anytime we gather.
The statewide metrics which were created under your leadership were meant to be a framework for opening schools to in-person or hybrid instruction based on science and data, not politics and wishful thinking. Your recent announcement, in contrast, pushes an arbitrary timeline for reopening schools, regardless of the level of community spread of the virus and takes the decision out of the hands of state epidemiologists and puts it into the hands of school board personnel who may or may not have any medical or scientific background.
The fact that Oregon’s case numbers have remained lower than those of much of the country is a testament to the efficacy of the policies that have been in place — it is short-sighted and dangerous to use the success of these policies as justification for pulling the legs out from under them just as the vaccine is beginning to be distributed.
As elected leaders who represent licensed educators in our school districts, we have been working with school district leaders on plans to return to in-person instruction. In order for us to be able to return safely, there are several components that we believe are vital in order for our members to return to in-person learning:
- COVID-19 is still spreading uncontrolled and largely untraced in our communities and research is showing that reopening school buildings is the most safe when community spread is low. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, our staff and students need free and frequent access to COVID-19 testing in each school site, as well as robust contact tracing. School staff need access to additional sick leave apart from the leave guaranteed by their union contract to quarantine if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
- We are optimistic that the vaccines are beginning to be administered to healthcare workers and first-responders. However, by the state’s own best-case estimation, teachers and other school staff may not have access to a vaccine for weeks and educators will certainly not be fully vaccinated by February 15th, 2021. We need a clear timeline and plan to make vaccines available for school staff. School staff must have access to the vaccine and have time for it to be fully effective before reopening schools for in-person or hybrid instruction.
- We are asking for the maintenance of the current health and safety protocols in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance to mitigate the risks of reopening school buildings. No one gains from opening schools for a short period only to have them closed abruptly. It will only cause further disruption to our students’ learning if our guidelines are not strong enough to ensure that outbreaks are unlikely to occur.
- We also need time to continue working with our districts and communities on plans and logistics. For any plan for returning to in person or hybrid instruction to be successful, it needs to be co-created with educators, and families. We know that school districts are hearing from some families– we need time to reach out directly to the families most impacted by COVID; those most likely to live in multi-generational housing; and those least likely to have good health care. We must provide time and space for school districts to use a racial equity lens. Time is also necessary to allow dialogue, questions and to offer our best answers in multiple languages so parents and families can make informed decisions.
- In order to open schools safely, we need increased resources. Going back without that means returning to the overcrowded and under-resourced conditions our schools have experienced for years. We need significantly increased resources to allow for COVID-19-safe class sizes. We also need school nurses in every building, mental health professionals, academic support personnel, custodians to do increased cleaning protocols, and personnel to support the isolation of symptomatic students.
- As we bring students back in person, there will be a need to continue distance learning, so we need to continue investing our energy and resources into making distance learning as effective and supportive as possible. The students most in need lose out when we shift our resources toward in-person learning when so many families, especially those most impacted by the pandemic, are not willing to send their children back to crowded schools and classrooms.
- Educators and families share a concern for the impact that the pandemic and distance learning have had on student’s mental health and social and emotional development. Before we re-engage students into in-person instruction, we need thoughtful plans for the learning environments that our students are returning to. Return plans need to be trauma-informed, culturally responsive, asset-based, and focused on well-being, rather than test prep and remediation. Our plans must include waivers from time-consuming standardized tests, which steal valuable learning time and completely miss the mark of what is most important in reestablishing our live school communities.
Governor Brown, your leadership had distinguished Oregon for its relatively low rate of COVID-19, and for that we are grateful. We are unwilling to recklessly reopen schools after working so hard to minimize the impact of the pandemic in our state. We want desperately to be back in physical classrooms with our students — as soon as we can do so safely, without needlessly risking the lives and health of students, educators or members of our community.
Elizabeth Thiel, Portland Association of Teachers President
Jill Golay, Hillsboro Education Association President
Mindy Merritt, Salem Keizer Education Association President
Sabrina Gordon, Eugene Education Association President
Sara Schmitt, Beaverton Education Association President
A message from BEA President Sara Schmitt:
Thank you for your work this year, and for never giving up on making a difference for your students – especially now, in this convergence of two significant moments in time. We have been working to provide a new kind of school, and planning for an uncertain future during the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, the nation saw the intentional murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, and national protests have called for an end to anti-Black racism and police brutality. These events have highlighted the importance of our role as educators, and the power that we have to fight for a better future for students in our community.
The BEA Narrative on Public Education states that “our ultimate goal as a union of educators is the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual nourishment of our students.” We cannot achieve this goal without advocating for educators, and we cannot achieve this goal without advocating for racial and social justice. As a predominantly white organization of educators, we need to examine our own educational practices, as well as systemic policies, that harm students and staff. We must evaluate and disrupt the systemic ways that Black and African American students, staff and families are marginalized in our schools and communities.
As a union, this is our responsibility. The BEA Executive Board will be reviewing and revising the BEA Narrative, to be more explicit about our commitment to fighting institutional racism within our schools and our union. The BEA Racial and Social Justice Task Force will meet during the summer to map out specific actions that align with our commitments. We stand in support of our members who are Black and African American, as colleagues, allies and accomplices. We will continue to support and promote Black student-led protests and actions throughout the summer. We support mandatory antiracism, anti-bias training for all staff. We advocate for the recruitment, hiring and attention to retention of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the Beaverton School District. We support the immediate implementation of more culturally responsive curriculum, and improving the cultural competency of all staff. We encourage white educators to be anti-racist, interrupt bias, hold colleagues accountable, and prioritize the safety and well-being of BIPOC colleagues and students. We also encourage white educators to access the list of books, podcasts, and movies that OEA has put together to learn and grow in your understanding of anti-racist allyship, and engage in the work.
I look forward to continuing to work with you all to build a strong union, a strong school district, and a strong community.
The Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly is the yearly meeting in which elected delegates come together to debate and vote on governing documents and new business items, which will guide the direction of OEA. BEA has a long-standing history of involvement in this process, which has resulted in positive changes that have benefited our members. The OEA RA will be April 17th and 18th at the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach in Portland.
The National Education Association Representative Assembly is similar to the OEA RA but on a much larger scale, it involves thousands of NEA members. Elected delegates debate and vote on governing documents, policies and new business items, which help guide our national organization. The 2020 NEA RA will be held from July 2-6, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Nominations for delegates to the Oregon Education Association and the National Education Association Representative Assemblies are due by Friday. January 17, 2020. Only current BEA members are eligible to be delegates. Elections will be held the week of February 3, 2020.
If you want more information, have questions, or wish to run for either of these positions, please contact BEA Elections Chair, Erin Gettling, or BEA Vice President, Karen Lally.