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Current Events Reflections


2011, OEA's Summer Conference, 8/1-3

2011, OEA's Representative Assembly, 4/15-17

The 2011 OEA-RA took place April 15 & 16 at the Red Lion Inn at Jantzen Beach in Portland, Oregon. Agenda items included officer election for statewide and regional OEA offices, legislative stances, resolutions, policies, new business items, guest speakers, and awards. OEA President Gail Rasmussen and Vice-President Hanna Vaandering were both re-elected by the OEA-RA delegates and will be serving another two-year term in their respective offices. OEA member C John Larson was elected to the position of NEA Director. Visit the OEA web site at for photos and highlights of the 2011 OEA –RA.

Laura Scruggs, BMS: “For the first time I can remember, the RA was relaxed. No major arguments, debates, or disagreements caused friction, no issues became contentious, and no elections included hurt feelings or angry words. I really felt like everyone was focusing their energy on supporting each other as we face challenges in legislation. I love the "Wear Red for Education" day - we were truly a sea of support for teachers in Wisconsin, Idaho and across the


Clark Morberg, SHS:
“I enjoyed being with such a large group of dedicated professionals all coming together to make education better. It was nice to touch base and see that we are not alone in our struggles and good people from all over our state are coming up with innovative ways to meet these challenges. I felt re-energized after the weekend."


Laurel Ross, Page & Camp Creek:
“I really enjoy and appreciate OEA's leadership. Gail and Hannah ran a very efficient RA, and I especially enjoyed the speech by our new Executive Director Richard Sanders."


Chris Jesser, THS:
The 2011 OEA-RA was a rallying of
support for union solidarity across the country. The OEA Executive Director made a passionate plea to all members to stand strong and support one another in these trying, financial times. There were significant numbers of younger OEA members @ the Rep Assembly...always a
good sign!

2011, Portland: NEA's Pacific Regional Leadership Conference

Stacey Whaley, SHS: This year’s Pacific Regional Leadership Conference was among the best I have attended. The sessions were all useful, pertinent to current events and trends, and motivational in the face of organized labor struggles across the country. I attended a session called “Taking Action to Create a Culture of Health” and was pleasantly surprised to hear from other schools and districts who have similar Wellness Grants to ours. I grabbed a bunch of great ideas, and hope to bring them to you soon in the form of wellness related activities and opportunities! 

Other great sessions included “Keeping the Big Ideas: Building Great Partnerships to Support Student Learning”, presented by our very own Erin Whitlock from ASMS, and sessions on how teachers can be an active voice in school reform issues, not just react to decisions made for them. Especially motivating was the keynote speaker, Dr. Yong Zhao, who spoke of school reform and the evolution of testing worldwide. It is obvious to me that we all need to take an active voice and call or e-mail our elected officials and demand that educational change be supported by real data, not just current fad. 


Jill Davidson, Douglas Gardens: This was my first union conference and Participating in the Pacific Regional Conference was a blast! Not only did I get a chance to talk freely with other Springfield educators, I able to connect with so many other passionate educators from all over the region. The speakers were inspiring, the workshops connecting, and the message clear: collective bargaining and unity are essential to the democratic process. 


Chris Jesser, THS: PRLC was an opportunity to meet and discuss school finance and educational reform issues with peers from Alaska, Hawaii, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. Each state has similar challenges and surprisingly few differences. Two common themes with presenters and guest speakers were: the necessity to craft our own solutions to real problems in public education and to use data to dispel the myth that "all" of public education is broken and needs to be reformed by non-educators! Being a teacher today is tougher than it was 20+ years ago, but just as rewarding. "Proceed until apprehended," said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President. I wholeheartedly agree. 


Erin Whitlock, ASMS: "I had an excellent time and honor as a first-time presenter at this year's Pacific Regional Leadership Conference. It was a very valuable experience for myself as an educator and association member. I am extremely grateful to Springfield EA and Oregon EA for  inviting me to have this opportunity, and for Generation NEA (a group that focusses on what teachers new to the field need to "survive") to include me in their list of presenters as a young leader."


Jonathan M. Gault, TMS: 
Reflections on my first PRLC:
The Opening Session and Dinner with Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President, was a great way to open this conference and give all participants several needed reminders: that we as professional, creative and thoughtful educators are irreplaceably valuable, that we should never ask for "permission" to be innovative and forward-thinking, and most importantly, that we should live by the phrase "proceed until apprehended." 

With some training in the areas of workplace social justice, cyberbullying awareness and prevention, and learning about the changing face of special education, I hoped to deepen my understanding of these current issues. Probably the most interesting session for me was a panel discussion, sponsored by Generation NEA (Go Whitlock!). Those on the panel represented a wide array of experience and expertise, which allowed for an interesting dialogue over many relevant topics, such as tenure and bargaining rights, class size, professional development, curriculum alignment and standards based instruction.

In between the morning and afternoon group sessions was a lunch with guest speaker that I have to say, I was planning to skip and take a nap. Boy, am I glad I went, for I would have missed Dr. Yong Zhao (from the UO; Go Ducks!) and his very entertaining and edifying presentation. A highlight from Dr. Zhao - current American education reformers are chasing rainbows by imagining that the prolific use of standardized tests and "racing to the top" will generate drive, and therefore better results, through competing for scores and dollars. I also appreciated Dr. Zhao's charge to remember Jamie Vollmer's "blueberry story" when public education is compared with a business model - we can't refuse the delivery of bad raw materials, but are expected to turn out an AAA "product".

The conference ended on a high note, in that the closing session keynote speaker was Lily Eskelsen, NEA Vice President, a witty, charming, and inspiring leader. All who had heard her before were anticipating a moving and heartfelt message; she did not disappoint.