Testimony on Higher Ed, COVID-19, and Equity
Oregon House Interim Committee on Education (29 May 2020)
An abbreviated version was also delivered to the Senate Interim Committee on Education (02 June 2020)
The Politics Committee meets to discuss political issues affecting the state. The committee also makes recommendations for endorsements to the Executive Council. The Executive Council makes endorsements on behalf of the full membership of United Academics.
2020 Candidate Endorsements
2020 Oregon Legislative Session
The short session kicked off this week and will be all wrapped up in early March. Given that next year’s focus will heavily center on higher education, there are some higher ed bills already in the works; bills cleaning up the K-12 legislation from last year; lots of committees and task forces to learn about stuff; some tax and revenue housecleaning; and even some diversity-related initiatives. Nothing on PERS (unless you’re a prison chaplain, then hit me up); if you’d like updates on the PERS legislation lawsuit, hit me up as well. And if you’d like to see a complete list of potential bills or like to see AAUP’s position on the Bills they’re taking on, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights:
Sets up a task force to give recommendations on how to address student housing and food insecurity.
Prohibits sports betting on college teams. Eh…don’t know about this one. AAUP is currently neutral on this, and I’d love to hear from folks what y’all think…
Students from the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands or Federated States of Micronesia can receive in-state tuition.
This House-sponsored Bill attempts to help students reach graduation quickly by making sure they are placed in appropriate lower-division Writing and Math courses. However, the initial Bill does not include faculty in thinking through assessment. Both the Universities and Labor are pushing for drastic amendments, if not an outright death. I think this is an issue (placement and assessment), but not something that should be legislated. However, drawing attention to the issue brings up other things worth thinking about in the legislature, like having enough student support services for students coming from K-12 institutions that did not adequately prepare them for entry into higher-ed (funding).
Authorizes all Us to offer PhDs, some Us (regionals) limited to a number of programs for an initial time period. Prohibits HECC or other state agencies from giving scholarship money to students going to predatory on-line “schools.”
This Bill from Representative Alonso León is ultimately a “listening bill” whereby a legislative task force will visit the Us and CCs in order to learn how best to serve students from under-represented communities writ large. This is a great place for the issues raised in 4128 to be taken up, rather than go right to legislation.
Here we see a repeat of the California bill meant to give student athletes a shot at earning some income. If passed without some serious amendments there’s plenty of time for the NCAA and its partners to squash it.
This is a typical short-session bill that does some cleaning up on previously passed legislation, this time, the Transfer Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. We’re keeping an eye on this, especially to make sure that the HECC doesn’t go too far around the Us. There’s a provision for extending some scholarships for Public Safety Officer’s children thrown in as well as an authorization for the regional Us (Western, Eastern, and Southern) to offer PhD degrees (like HB4137).
Stricter licensing process and penalties for student loan companies.
A short one from HECC meant to protect Veterans from predatory career schools that go after a loophole in benefits coverage. The bill sets standards for tuition revenue and penalties for fucking with Vets.
Protects workers who are unemployed because of an active labor dispute from not receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
School Districts would have to use “class size” and “caseloads” as mandatory collective bargaining subjects.
HB4146 (health-care; higher-ed)
This is the final push for the part-time faculty healthcare bill that didn’t quite make it through last year. [link to PDF]
Other notable bills to keep an eye on:
Now presented as the Greenhouse Gas Bill, here’s an attempt to tackle the Clean Air Bill from last year that forced a Republican walkout and a near shutdown of the legislative session. Some Dems are pissed that this Bill isn’t as “strong” as last year, though some Republicans have offered some support while other Rs are jumping on the “won’t do anything anyway” bandwagon. And…to head off the potential one-sided shutdown from last session…
…here’s a proposal to go from a 2/3 majority to simple majority for quorum. AAUP and Labor/Dems will strongly support.
HBs 4001, 4002, 4015 are task force/study bills while HB4003 hopes to provide “technical assistance” and “grants” to organizations working on increasing home ownership for people of color, including making “funds available to federally recognized Indian tribes,” implicit bias training for mortgage lenders, and a task force on racial disparity in home ownership. HB4039 specially addresses homeless youth populations.
HB4076, specifically with the loudest commentators on UOM in mind, sets up a task force on age discrimination.
HB4096 looks to increase funds to childcare centers serving large employees, however, also makes it possible that “all residential structures” can get certified for childcare.
HB4126 makes it easier to arrest antifa protestors.
History buffs can read up on our past endorsements.
In many cases, United Academics does not make a direct endorsement of a candidate for office. Instead, we created a survey that candidates can fill out to tell us how they view the issues that impact our membership.
You can read completed candidate surveys here.
Candidates for office can fill out the survey here. United Academics reserves the right to not post all the responses we receive.
Political Action Fund
United Academics works with our affiliate, AFT-Oregon, to handle political donations our members want to make. AFT-Oregon is a member-run union and the candidates and causes they support are selected by elected committee members.
What is the Political Action Fund?
AFT-Oregon’s Political Action Fund (PAF) is part of the political action arm of AFT-Oregon. It builds our union’s power and makes sure we have a strong voice to advocate for educators and educational professionals, and our communities.
PAF makes politics work for educators and working families by:
- Funding member outreach to lawmakers to educate them on important issues that affect our union and communities
- Helping to elect and re-elect lawmakers who support us
- Mobilizing and empowering members to build a strong voice for workers and education in Oregon
- Organizing community actions with allies to demand full funding for schools, community colleges, and universities, and fighting back against public policy that harms working Oregonians
- Passing pro-worker and pro-education legislation to protect our jobs and raise workplace standards
- Fighting anti-union legislation and ballot measures
Why Political Action?
As workers and educators, AFT-Oregon members fight for fair wages and benefits, respect on the job, and an education system that lifts up our whole community. Education policy and funding is decided by our legislators and on the ballot. This directly impacts what we can get at the bargaining table and the quality of our students’ education.
Anti-worker and anti-public education corporate forces have deep pockets to push their agendas on working Oregonians. If everyone steps up and contributes what they can, together we have the power to ensure a voice at the table.
How it works:
- PAF is entirely funded by voluntary contributions and is guided by a member-based, democratic process.
- In Oregon, you can receive a tax credit up to $50 for a single filer and $100 for a joint filer on your Oregon State Taxes.
If you are interested in contributing to the Political Action Fund, contact the office so we can get you a PAF card.