Oregon Bill Defines ‘Merit’ As Those Who Have Received ‘Anti-Bias’ Training; Teachers Without Merit May Be Laid Off

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A new bill introduced in the Oregon state legislature mandates that schools use a merit-based system when making staff reductions, unless the merit-based system interferes with the school’s “diversity ratio.” 

According to the bill text, any school district that plans on making a reduction in education staff positions must retain teachers with “less seniority” if that teacher has more “merit” and “if retention of [the] teacher is necessary to maintain [the] school district’s diversity ratio.” 

The bill also redefines “merit” to mean teachers that have undergone “anti-bias” and other such diversity, equity, and inclusion training. Merit is defined in the bill as “the measurement of the ability and effectiveness of one teachers, as measured against the ability and effectiveness of another teacher based on consideration of any of the following factors … Training received by the teacher related to anti-bias, diversity, equity, inclusion, culturally responsive practices or restorative justice practices.” 

Other factors include speaking languages other than English and years of experience at schools where at least 25 percent of the student population is considered “diverse.” 

The bill redefined the word “competence” as well. According to the text, competent employees must be willing to undergo additional anti-bias training. Competence is defined as “the ability of a teacher to teach a subject or grade level based on consideration of any of the following … The teacher’s willingness to undergo additional training or pursue additional education.” 

The measure was initially designed to create new provisions for the state’s Minority Teacher Act of 1991, which was built “in recognition of the disparity between the state’s diverse student population and this state’s predominately white teacher workforce.” 

The stated goal of the Minority Teacher Act was to get the “number of minority teachers, including administrators, employed by school districts and education service districts [to] be approximately proportion[al] to the number of minority children enrolled in the public schools in this state” by 2001.  

The bill claims that there has been “some progress” towards the goal, though the teacher workforce remains “significantly less diverse than this state’s student population.”

In the same text, the legislature acknowledged that the state reported adding “nonwhite and multilingual teachers at almost four times the rate that the schools were hiring monolingual, white teachers in an effort to meet the state goal of an educator workforce that reflects the diversity of students in public schools.” 

The proposal was authored by Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek, who has previously praised devout communist Angela Davis. Davis is an activist who joined the Communist Party and received international recognition from the Soviet Union. She also worked with Occupy Wall Street as well as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Democratic state Reps. Tawana Sanchez, Teresa Alonso Leon, Janelle Bynum, and Julianne Fahey are among the members sponsoring the bill. 

Critics have dubbed the proposal a form of racism that has disguised itself as social and racial progress. 

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