Education Justice

December 2016 Equity Lens :: Advocacy End of Year Update

This year, the Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC) hired an Advocacy Director to increase our ability to impact change locally and in the upcoming legislative session. That change started with the 2016 election.  In the 2016 election cycle, the CCC:

  • Endorsed five ballot measures aimed at improving the lives of people of color in Oregon.
  • Produced a 2016 voter issue guide to help inform voters of key ballot measures that impact communities of color.
  • Collaborated with each campaign to turn out volunteers, organize canvasses in communities of color, get the word out in the media, and provide guidance on campaign strategy. 
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While we know the result of the national election will create new challenges, locally we were successful on 4 out of 5 CCC ballot initiative priorities. These local victories will give more families access to safe, affordable homes, improve our schools, and protect our natural areas. Also, we saw new levels of engagement in communities of color that will set the stage for future success on the ballot.

Even during elections, we know that our work on other issues impacting communities of color does not stop.  Since the passage of HB 3499 (English Language Learners programs), the CCC has worked diligently with our allies to develop rules for the new law that will lead to better implementation and ultimately outcomes for English Language Learners (ELL). This week, the State Board of Education adopted many of our proposed rules thanks to the incredible advocacy of our allies in the ELL Advisory Workgroup.

Earlier this month, the Portland City Council passed the Open & Accountable Elections Act, which will enact a new public campaign financing program that matches low dollar donations given to candidates. The CCC and our member organizations helped lead the way to pass this important reform, working with a local coalition of over 30 organizations. Check out this op-ed written by Julia Meier and Joseph Santos-Lyons to learn more about how it impacts communities of color.

This new law will create more opportunities for diverse representation in Portland city government. The program empowers candidates to run for office without taking big campaign contributions. Instead, candidates can run with small-dollar contributions from local city residents that will be matched 6-to-1 by the city. In a city where only 7 women, 2 people of color, and 2 people from the outer east side have ever been elected to city office, and at a time when big special interest money is dominating our elections - this is huge victory for our communities.

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As the CCC prepares to announce our 2017 legislative endorsements, we will continue to work hard to engage the community and create opportunities to advance racial equity in Oregon.

Latino Network, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Stand for Children Oregon Unite Behind Initiative Petition 65

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 25, 2016

CONTACT: Kelsey Cardwell

kelsey.cardwell@gmail.com

425-753-0461

@BetterHSNow

Latino Network, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Stand for Children Oregon Unite Behind Initiative Petition 65

Today, the Latino Network of Oregon, the Coalition of Communities of Color, and Stand for Children Oregon announced their lead role as coalition sponsors for Initiative Petition 65 (IP 65). They head up a growing list of supporters like Adelante Mujeres, Benson Tech Foundation and Native American Youth and Family Center campaigning to improve Oregon’s high school graduation rate, and career and college readiness.

As the economy grows, IP 65 will target new money to Oregon’s most pressing problem—the state’s critically low graduation rate. If passed this November, it will directly fund proven high school that will increase student success. It will expand career-technical education (CTE) programs and college-credit courses, and implement proven dropout prevention strategies across Oregon.

“Oregon’s high school graduation rate is one of the lowest in the country, and last year, only 66 percent of kids of color graduated on time, a full 10 points behind white students,” said Julia Meier, executive director of the Coalition of Communities of Color. “It is time to take action to help Oregon’s students, particularly our most vulnerable students, because they cannot afford for us to wait any longer.”

Oregon’s public schools have great kids, dedicated teachers and hardworking staff, but the numbers show that our high schools are ill-equipped to serve our students, especially students of color:

Last year, over 2,500 kids of color dropped out of high school in Oregon, at rates significantly higher than their white peers, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
Only 15 percent of black students, 16 percent of Pacific Islander students, 21 percent of Hispanic students, and 22 percent of American Indian students leave community college with a certificate or degree, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

However, at schools where students have access to career technical education, college-level coursework and dropout prevention programs, students of color fare far better in high school and college. For example, a  report released by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) found that CTE students are 15.5 percent more likely to graduate high school in four years than students statewide.  Students of color benefit even more. The graduation rates for African American students are 24 percent higher than those of African American students statewide, 21 percent higher for Latino CTE students, and 23 percent higher for Native American CTE students.

“Students of color cannot wait around any longer for adults to do something about Oregon’s disturbing graduation rate,” says Carmen Rubio, executive director of the Latino Network. “This initiative quickly creates opportunities that will support students in succeeding in high school and college. We are proud to call ourselves a coalition partner.”

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July 2015 Equity Lens: Education Justice Update

HB3499 Signed Into Law!

Governor Kate Brown signing into law HB3499 with students and members from communities of color.  (Photo: Gordon Friedman / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

Governor Kate Brown signing into law HB3499 with students and members from communities of color. (Photo: Gordon Friedman / STATESMAN JOURNAL)

This legislative session, Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB 3499, a comprehensive approach to improve outcomes for Oregon’s English Language Learners (ELL) by increasing transparency, accountability, and systemic supports for schools, educators, and students. Currently, only 49% of ELL students graduate from high school and for many years, communities of color throughout the state have struggled with these detrimental educational outcomes. Leaders from communities of color knew we could do better, and with HB3499, our communities have the ability to turn this crisis into an opportunity for students throughout Oregon. HB3499 will ensure that ELL resources are focused on delivering quality ELL programming to our most vulnerable students and resetting the status quo of using these critical resources to fill shortfalls in school budgets.

The CCC, our members, and our community partners were instrumental in all leading facets of this groundbreaking legislation – from research on best practices for ELL students, to compiling statewide data on ELL outcomes, to drafting the bill, and to building a broad base of support with communities of color throughout the state. The CCC appreciates the leadership of Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO); Center for Inter-Cultural Organizing (CIO); as well as our advocacy our partners at Stand for Children and Northwest Health Foundation.

“With out the advocacy and united voice of leaders from a the Coalition of Communities of Color and Stand for Children this groundbreaking law would never have been passed.” - Nichole Maher, President and CEO of Northwest Health Foundation

In addition to community leadership on HB3499, the Department of Education and the Governor’s Office provided leadership in convening all stakeholders to have facilitated dialogue about the impact of this legislation leading up to the session.

HB3499, which was sponsored and championed by Representative Joe Gallegos, passed with unanimous support from both the house and the senate. If you have any questions or need any more information, please feel free to contact the CCC.