Equity and Racial Justice Task Force Report

Last November, the OAESD Governance Council appointed a 19-member Task Force on Equity and Racial Justice. The Task Force consisted of a board member or staff member designated by each individual ESD. As constituted, the membership of the Task Force consisted of four ESD superintendents, six board members and nine staff members with least 51 percent of the members being black, indigenous or persons of color. The Task Force was charged with two actions: (1) Craft a position statement on equity and racial justice to guide the work of the Association in these areas; and (2) Provide concrete recommendations for actions by the Association in support of individual ESDs in their own work on equity and racial justice. The Task Force completed their work with a final report submitted to the Governance Council on April 1. The report was unanimously approved by the Council and is now ready to guide the work of the Association in the coming months.

Under the facilitation of Dr. Nancy Golden, Professor of Practice at the College of Education at the University of Oregon, the Task Force met six times totaling approximately 9 hours from December through March. The individual Task Force members are to be commended for their dedication and commitment to the work. They engaged with each other in thoughtful and respectful ways, listening and learning while allowing themselves to be vulnerable in sharing their perspectives.

The Task Force report now becomes the basis for the work of the Association in matters relating to equity and racial justice going forward. It will provide a focus for the work of our ESD job-alike groups (school improvement, special education, human resources, etc.). The Task Force report will provide a basis for the evaluation of our positions for equity and racial justice when reviewing legislation. It will provide a lens for review of the alignment of our work with the equity positions of the Oregon Department of Education and other partners with whom we have relationships. The Task Force report will inform our Association conferences and professional development activities. An in-depth implementation plan for the Task Force report will be developed in the coming months and the work will be guided by a steering committee to be appointed by the OAESD Officer Council.
The Task Force report will also serve as a model for our member ESDs. It will be up to individual ESDs as to the extent they wish to utilize the report. However, since the document is reflective of the collective work of ESD members across the state, it is anticipated that there will be elements of the report which will provide guidance on matters of equity and racial justice to individual ESDs within their local context.

What follows is the final report of the OAESD Task Force on Equity and Racial Justice:

Position Statement

The Oregon Association of Education Service Districts, in support of its 19 member ESDs, their component school districts and the Oregon Department of Education, and in response to systemic inequities and racism, will provide leadership in areas of equity and racial justice. We will raise-up and weave the voices of students and families of communities of color and other historically and currently underserved communities into all areas of our work. We will join with partners to provide the full history of Oregon for all people as a resource. We will bring together diverse groups of people for discussions of equity, race, and justice across the state. This is our call to action to ensure that all students will be accepted as their authentic selves, will be heard and valued, will belong and feel included, and will achieve high academic standards.
The core beliefs and recommendations for actions by the Association in response to the position statement below have guided the development of this position statement and will guide all our work on equity and racial justice.

Core Beliefs of the OAESD Task Force on Equity and Racial Justice

  1. Lead by example. In areas of equity and racial justice, OAESD will work with experts to raise its level of expertise and capacity to authentically perform its work.
  2. Engage points of view from diverse communities. Parents, students, families, caregivers and community partners’ voices need to be heard. Opportunities must be created and information shared so their voices are a valued part of decision-making conversations.
  3. Include student and family voices. Weaving in the voices of those currently in the opportunity gap, (i.e., undocumented students, immigrants and other underrepresented groups) is critical to helping guide our work and understanding each other’s history, struggles and perspectives.
  4. Understand local context. Oregon’s communities reflect geographical, rural, urban, social- economic and racial diversity. Community context and place matters. We will work side-by- side with our communities to understand inequalities in order to advance equity and racial justice.
  5. Share the full Oregon history. Oregon’s history has impacted certain groups of people differently and the context of that treatment In order to advance equity and racial justice, individuals and communities need a better understanding of the state’s historical treatment of certain groups, based on race, ethnicity, class and gender.
  6. Measure relevant goals. We must be intentional about what type of data we collect, as what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get implemented. We should consistently evaluate the goals’ outcomes, as well as hold ourselves accountable to improving the results.
  7. Support ESDs in their Equity and Racial Justice work. The work of the Task Force on Equity and Racial Justice will inform the work of the local ESDs, so they can support districts to ensure equity and racial justice for all students (e.g., resources, conferences, and materials). Additional ways to support local ESDs are listed in the Recommendation for Actions by the Association section below. The various ESDs should also share information and learn from each other.
  8. Increase the racial and gender diversity of leaders in education. ESD administrators and educators, in their roles of supporting and assisting schools and school districts, should match the diversity of student We should work with partners to provide the necessary support and advocacy to increase regional racial and gender diversity.

Recommendations for Actions by the Association in Response to the Position Statement

  1. Champion for Underserved Students. Become a force in ensuring that needed resources from the Student Success Act are allocated to benefit students equitably. Working with ESDs, OAESD will be a champion for early intervention students, underserved students and underrepresented students.
  2. Generate Powerful Data: Provide ESDs with relevant data regarding the needs of individual populations across the state that will advance equity and racial justice and make recommendations to deepen learning on these topics. This data will, for example, discern the root causes of inequity, offer effective strategies and base learning in theory-grounded research.
  3. Facilitate Trainings: Provide equity and racial justice trainings for ESDs at the staff, superintendent, and board member level. Support member ESDs in working with community partners in establishing learning outcomes and recommending respected experts to serve as trainers for each of these professional development sessions.
  4. Engage in Intentional Conversations: Convene and facilitate opportunities for member ESDs to engage in intentional and structured conversations about equity, race, and racial justice.
  5. Engage in Learning Communities: Convene and facilitate opportunities for staff members involved in matters of equity and race within their individual ESDs to gather to learn from each other.
  6. Serve as a Resource for ESDs: Collect information and serve as a “clearing house” for resources for member ESDs as they engage in their own discussions on equity and race.
  7. Support Non-English Speakers: Provide resources to member ESDs in support of the issues of language, translation and interpretation which impact students and families of non- English speaking populations.

Oregon Association of Education Service Districts is a partnership between: Clackamas, Columbia Gorge, Douglas, Grant, Harney, High Desert, InterMountain, Jefferson,Lake, Lane, Linn Benton Lincoln, Malheur, Multnomah, North Central, ‚ÄčNorthwest Regional, South Coast, Southern Oregon, Wallowa, and Willamette Education Service Districts.