President's Message: Now's Our Chance to Fully Fund Oregon Schools

In 2019, let’s give our students the gift of fully-funded schools.

The November election brought us a pro-public education legislature, and a governor who is calling for tax increases to fund public education. There can be no doubt about it: this is OUR time.

No one in Salem has spelled out where the revenue will come from, but it’s clear to us.

It should come from large corporations, who not only can afford it but haven’t been paying their fair share for years.

That said, it may be surprising to hear OEA is working with Nike. Here is a message from our state President, John Larson:

Recently OEA joined a new coalition that is calling itself the Coalition for the Common Good (CCG).  This coalition is made up of business partners, unions and community organizations dedicated to increasing school funding through additional revenue.  The two largest corporations, Nike and Russell Development, join OEA, AFSCME and SEIU.  While large corporations are not OEA’s usual partners in such conversations, we are willing to sit down with any corporation or organization who is willing to have a revenue conversation and adhere to the following principles:

  1. We are committed to raising significant revenue. This means billions, not millions.
  2. Any revenue conversations must center around a progressive structure which does not negatively impact working people.
  3. Additional revenue may not be tied to reducing pay or benefits (including PERS) of educators or other public employees.
  4. Funds raised through increased revenue must be directed towards public education and the programs we believe serve Oregon public school students.

OEA reserves the right to walk away from any conversation that does not meet these principles, and we haven’t signed on to any proposals.  We are, as always, dedicated to fully funding public education and believe that the Governor’s plan to raise an additional $2 billion in revenue is a good start towards this goal.  It is now incumbent upon the legislature to courageously propose a revenue plan that is right for Oregon.  We stand ready to be a part of the revenue conversation on any level, and we are definitely ready to stand up for Oregon students!

We have to be clear, this can’t be another year of business-as-usual politics. We must stand up and organize for our students and our schools. And over the next few months, we will have plenty of organizing opportunities to demand fully funded schools.

At PAT, we are launching our new, RED T-Shirts, that say “Fund our Future, Fund Our Schools.” I hope you’ll join me in wearing red every Tuesday until we have a budget our students deserve. 

Also, please plan on joining colleagues from around the state in Salem for our biggest President’s Day Rally ever.

It’s time to hold our elected officials to their campaign promises.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen 
PAT President