“We are very excited about the work they are going to be doing,” said OSBA Board President LeeAnn Larsen, a Beaverton School Board member. She said the board supports efforts to increase the diversity of school boards and educators and to help underserved student populations.
“It’s important for children across Oregon to have representation in positions of leadership,” said caucus Co-president Ana del Rocio, a David Douglas School Board member.
Jessica Arzate, caucus co-president and a Multnomah Education Service District board member, said creating a caucus seat guarantees underrepresented populations’ viewpoints will be heard.
Considering OSBA’s role in shaping school district policies, Arzate said, it’s crucial that its conversations include minority students’ experiences.
The caucus names its core value as promoting quality education for all students, with a focus on the needs of students of color. The caucus’s mission statement includes increasing school board diversity while also helping school board members of color build their capacity to address issues.
Most state agencies, school boards and district staffs have less diverse ethnic and racial makeups than the communities they serve.
Arzate said an OSBA position also allows the caucus to become involved with the National School Boards Association and engage in the national discussion.
Arzate stressed that the position would carry more than the viewpoint of one person.
“The person is really representing the conversations and the priorities of the caucus,” she said.
The OSBA Board will consider a resolution in September to amend OSBA’s bylaws to create a voting position for the caucus and a position on the Legislative Policy Committee. The full OSBA membership would vote on it during the fall.
The OSBA Board of Directors has 20 regional positions and three other ex officio members, representing the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, the State Board of Education and the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts.
The OSBA Board voted unanimously to support the work of the Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus when it was created in 2016. In 2017, the board voted unanimously to formally recognize the caucus. In June, the OSBA Board approved giving the caucus $40,000 for its activities.
The caucus has four officers: the co-presidents, Secretary Helen Ying (Multnomah ESD), and Treasurer Bill Graupp (North Marion SD). The caucus has seven directors; five represent Oregon’s congressional districts and two are at-large.