Prioritizing racial justice in Oregon’s government work is like learning how to walk, said North Clackamas School Board Chair Libra Forde.
“We are absolutely just coming out of a crawl,” said Forde. “When you’re thinking about babies learning to walk, there’s lots of mistakes, lots of falls. And I’m bracing for those falls.”
Gov. Kate Brown tapped OSBA Board members Forde and Erika Lopez to help the governor’s Racial Justice Council take those first steps. Lopez, the Hillsboro School Board chair, and Forde are part of the OSBA Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus.
The council was central to the work drafting the governor’s proposed budget, which emphasized equity and support for people of color and marginalized groups. Forde and Lopez joined a subcommittee on education recovery that identified barriers to student achievement, well-being and health, with special emphasis on Oregon’s underserved students and students of color.
The council worked hard on a short timeline to get through all the necessary work, meeting seven times from September to December.
“The intense pace was appropriate because we’re in an intense moment,” Forde said.
The committee’s hard work shines through in the final budget proposal.
The document states: “We must take the lessons we learned from the last recession, from this pandemic, and from the wildfires, and ensure that this time we elevate the needs of our Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, immigrant, refugee, Native American, and Tribal communities. Oregon will recover from the pandemic and the wildfires, and as we do, our budgets, policy agenda, and priorities must reflect, support, and honor the communities who bore the brunt of the devastation. …
“Our future must open doors to those who were shut out in the past.”
Forde said she felt like the council accomplished what it needed to but there is still more work to be done.
All school board members work hard and devote time to make their local communities better. But Forde and Lopez took extra time to highlight the needs and challenges facing students of color and traditionally underserved students statewide. Their hard work is an example for all Oregonians.