The Oregon City School Board and 21st-century learning
It is an exciting time for the Oregon City School District, where four elected members are stepping down and four more are running for election. We have an unprecedented opportunity for change and growth. Having volunteered on the board for two years I am getting a feel for the role of the board and its importance for setting the district's vision and priorities. We partner in this role with a dedicated teaching and administrative staff, parents, kids and a very seasoned district executive team. I have learned that as individuals we do not represent the board, we are a team and our responsibilities are primarily policy direction and fiduciary oversight.
The bond measure passed by the voters in 2018 gives us the opportunity to improve the safety and security of our schools and update our academic focus to better prepare our youth to participate in a global society. To grapple with real-world problems like climate change, global migration, homeland security, health care access, homelessness and intergenerational poverty. The (21st century) skill sets needed to address these complex and interrelated issues go beyond traditional academic learning. It is increasingly clear that our children need to become fluent in skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, stress tolerance and flexibility (to name a few).
Chris Storey, one of our four outgoing board members, was absolutely right when he said that the school board is no place for narrow ideologues (May 8 opinion piece headlined "The Future of the Oregon City School District is here"). However, the OC School Board is a place for people who can oversee tight stewardship of public funds while still holding a larger, fluid and forward-leaning vision for what must be accomplished by this next generation. Caring deeply about our children is critical, and while I believe all eight school board candidates have this quality, it is not enough. We must also care deeply about the health of our larger community.
1. Anna Farmer is a single working parent, supporting two children, all the while participating actively in her children's schools and community, creating a homeless shelter network among the local churches.
2. Steven Soll holds a Ph.D. in biology, has a young son and teaches science at Clackamas Community College.
3. Emma Lugo is a small business owner who understands that the quality of our public schools is critical to the quality of our future citizens and leaders.
4. Pamela White is a former Canby School Board Member, the mother of five and an executive-level fund development professional.
All of these individuals, representing different faith backgrounds, political beliefs, stages of life and individual circumstances, are personally acquainted with the value of the dollar, have deep local roots and have demonstrated not just an abiding concern for the district's children, but concern also for the health of our larger community.
Beyond their outstanding and diverse qualifications for the positions they seek, what I share with each of these four candidates is a commitment to making our schools a welcoming and inclusive place for all of our children with strategic intention. Moreover, they demonstrate the critical skills of collaboration, flexibility, critical thinking, interpersonal grace and emotional intelligence. The district needs their brand of leadership.
Martha Spiers is a member of the Oregon City School Board.