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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Bipartisan Anti-Racist Policies Must Stand

Clackamas County Democrats stand in support of the existing laws that attempt to create a welcoming environment where all children can learn and thrive. We support the statements below

For Immediate Release Contact: Hannah Kurowski, Communications Director 

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner Condemns Actions by Newberg School Board Leadership to Revoke Bipartisan Anti-Racist Policy Originally Chief-Sponsored by Republicans 

SALEM, OR -- Today House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner makes the following statement in response to the Newberg School Board’s pending vote and attempt to overturn the anti-racist Every StudentBelongs policy, originally chief-sponsored by Republicans, and ban LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter symbols in schools: 

“The Newberg School Board's attempt to overturn the Every Student Belongs policy is dangerous and wrong, and must not be allowed to go unchallenged. Director Brian Shannon and Chairman Dave Brown, and any other board members who support this misguided effort, are putting our students’ ability to safely and effectively learn in the classroom at risk. 

“Across the country and right here in Oregon, we are seeing more attempts to whitewash our history and overturn antiracist policies, like Every Student Belongs, which were implemented to ensure students can feel safe and thrive in the classroom, no matter their perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. The policy they seek to stifle further prohibits the use of hate symbols, including the swastika, Confederate flag and noose. 

"It was also reported that Director Shannon added to the board’s agenda banning the use of Black Lives Matter signage and LGBTQ+ Pride flags from school buildings. These are emblems used by historically oppressed communities to create a safe space for students regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. The board’s attempt to ban these symbols shows how great the need still is to better understand our history, not erase it. 

"What the school board is doing is reckless, prioritizing bigoted and partisan politics over our children’s wellbeing and ability to succeed in and outside of the classroom. As the Legislative Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus previously stated, Every Student Belongs was implemented with the intent of creating a competitive workforce that adequately equips our students with the tools and skills to work in an increasingly diversified job market and global economy.

“Economics aside, there is a moral obligation for community, state and national leaders to foster an equitable education system that protects students’ emotional and physical wellbeing. What the data shows is that students of color experience racism in the classroom starting at a young age, a traumatizing event that impacts a student’s ability to perform and succeed. In fact, BIPOC students are 3.8 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions than white students. There is still so much to be done to truly provide justice for all, and policies like Every Student Belongs are critical to getting to that long-overdue goal. 

"When I joined the Legislature in 2014, I did so with the goal of breaking down systemic barriers and fighting for equity in our education system. I stand by that commitment to all of our students, and I promise to hold accountable any districts or school boards that attempt to prioritize bigotry over student success.” 

For Immediate Release Contact: Hannah Kurowski 

 Oregon Legislative BIPOC Caucus Condemns Actions 
 by Newberg School Board to Revoke Anti-Racist Policy 

SALEM, OR -- Today the Oregon Legislative Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus makes the following statement in response to the Newberg School Board's consideration of overturning the anti-racist EveryStudent Belongs policy, previously known as “All Students Belong:”

"We condemn the actions of Director Brian Shannon, Chairman Dave Brown, and board members who support removing the Every Student Belongs policy, which was a Republican chief-sponsored bill that passed with bipartisan support. The intent of the Legislature in developing this piece of legislation was to protect children in the classroom and create a competitive workforce prepared for the challenges of the future. Oregon businesses now and in the future will need communities that are safe for their workforces and potential clients. 

“We are also extremely concerned by the board’s undemocratic attempt to push through their politically-motivated agenda without input from the public. We can't let this spread any further.

“Inspired by the advocacy of Oregon high school students in 2020, the Every Student Belongs policy recognizes that 'student health and safety are the cornerstone of education and that all students are entitled to a high-quality educational experience, free from discrimination or harassment based on perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin, and without fear or hatred, racism or violence.' 

“The policy also prohibits three of the most recognizable symbols of hate: the swastika, the Confederate flag, and the noose. These symbols traumatize students and prevent student access and success. As school board members, parents, and legislators, we are all responsible for keeping schools safe and doing everything we can to promote student success. Further, removing this policy would also be a disservice to all students and their families, who in a diversifying job market and world will not be as competitive as others who have the skills to work within and contribute to an inclusive environment. 

“What is happening in Newberg shows the importance of running and voting in local elections across the country. Nationally we are seeing a trend of school boards rolling back anti-racism and anti-discrimination protections. This is unacceptable. After a difficult 18 months and with another school year just around the corner, we should be prioritizing a more welcoming and equitable education system. What the data shows is that we are not yet there, with BIPOC students experiencing racism in the classroom from a young age. 

“As a Caucus, we remain committed to a more equitable education system that prioritizes student success and look forward to taking action during next year’s session to hold districts accountable. We also call on state and community leaders to denounce the school board’s actions. It is not ‘partisan’ to reject the type of hatred and bigotry Director Shannon and Chairman Brown are promoting. The goal of providing a quality education for all students should be nonpartisan, including addressing systemic barriers.” 

Caucus Members 
Senators: Lew Frederick, Kayse Jama, James Manning 
Representatives: Teresa Alonso Leon, Janelle Bynum, Wlnsvey Campos, Andrea Valderrama, Mark Meek, Khanh Pham, Ricki Ruiz, Andrea Salinas, Tawna Sanchez