Suzanne Weber

Suzanne Weber 

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During the House Committee on Education earlier April 6, Vice Chair Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) and her colleagues discussed additional opportunities for education in the form of an amendment to HB 2954.

HB 2954 allows public charter schools to implement weighted lottery that favors historically underserved students who are at risk because of race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, income level, proficiency in the English language, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. The proposal would also allow for priority admission of historically underserved students.

Weber proposed an amendment to increase access to online educational opportunities for those who prefer it, especially BIPOC, low-income and traditionally underserved students. The amendment was voted down along party lines.

“Our state absolutely needs more educational opportunities for students, especially those that are most vulnerable,” said Rep. Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook). “I spent 30 years in the public school classroom. My career was dedicated to meeting my students where they were, and this amendment was a modest move toward expanding educational opportunities to more students, especially students from traditionally underserved communities who have fallen further behind than their peers during this period of distance learning. It’s unfortunate that we passed up on this chance to address a hardship that has been exacerbated for a certain group of students because of the pandemic.”

“Our responsibility as legislators, on behalf of all our children educationally, but especially those historically underserved because of economic or academic disadvantage, is to provide opportunities for success,” added Rep. Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay), a retired public educator and administrator. “I believe we should not limit access to educational opportunities for our children in this way.”

A June 2020 report from McKinsey and Company estimates that the average K-12 student in the United States could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings solely as a result of COVID-19-related learning losses. These costs are worse for students from communities of color, who could see a 3 percent or more reduction to annual earnings.

Another report from McKinsey & Company in December 2020 found that Black and Hispanic students continue to be more likely to remain remote and are less likely to have access to the prerequisites of learning – devices, Internet access, and live contact with teachers. Left unaddressed, these opportunity gaps will translate into wider achievement gaps.

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