OEA Membership: How We Fight Trump/DeVos
By Forrest Cooper
As education professionals, we devote our lives to what is best for our schools and students. If you’re like me, the mere mention of the name “DeVos” is enough to set you off. Her agenda to undermine public education will jeopardize the future of an entire generation of students. Already, we have seen draconian cuts to the federal education budget, threats to immigrant students who are in our classrooms every day, and of course, Betsy DeVos’ longtime push towards privatization and voucher programs. Her anti-public education ideas now have the weight of the executive branch behind them.
What’s even more frightening is that the policies Trump and DeVos are pushing at the federal level are starting to show up here in Oregon.
During the last legislative session, a Republican state senator introduced a bill to divert taxpayer funds to subsidize private schools - only five states have this extreme policy. Thanks to the vigilance and hard work of the Oregon Education Association, that voucher bill was blocked before it even made it out of committee.
Of course, that was only one of the many attacks on educators and other public employees. There are constant threats to our retirement and other hard-earned benefits, efforts to take health care from hundreds of thousands of Oregonians and attempts to undermine our ability to have a voice in our profession and our schools.
Whether here in Oregon or at the national level, OEA is there to defend against all these attacks. But there is one word that makes that defense possible: membership. Our membership in OEA -- yours and mine -- is what protects our profession, our schools and our students.
We know the people behind these attacks will try again and again here in Oregon, not only because they are emboldened by Trump and DeVos, but because they are getting help from organizations like the anti-union, Koch brothers-connected Freedom Foundation.
As an OEA member, I’m proud of the work our union is doing here in Oregon -- especially given what is happening beyond our state. It’s not just a cliché to say we are truly stronger together. It is incredibly reassuring to me that while I am working with students, OEA is on the front lines, working to defend public education.
OEA will fight for our values because we are the OEA. Whether it’s fending off vouchers, reduced school funding, or attacks on our benefits and profession, with a unified voice we can defend Oregon. As an OEA member, I am honored to be a part of this resistance.