Oregon Education Association loses teachers due to union’s policies

The OEA's membership has fallen from 85.6 percent to 81.2 percent in just three years.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is in the midst of a "membership crisis," data in the union's most recent internal documents reveal.

The union—the largest of its kind in the state—reported an active membership of 41,784 out of 48,774 represented educators in the 2019-20 school year. That number shrunk to 41,127 in 2020-2021, but saw major declines in the 2021-22 school year, as OEA memberships fell to 40,634 dues-paying members, reports Fox News.

This means that nearly one-in-five teachers have ended their affiliation with the OAE. The OEA's membership has fallen from 85.6 percent to 81.2 percent in just three years.

Fox News writes that, until 2019, "Oregon was one of 23 states without right-to-work protections for government workers, meaning teachers and thousands of other public employees were required to financially support union activities."

In 2018, however, the US Supreme Court ruled on Janus v. AFSCME, affirming that forcing people to pay union dues was a violation of public employees' First Amendment rights. 

In response, teachers' unions were aggressive in political spending, having dished out more than twice as much on political expenditures than they did on its members.

The OEA and its allies were among the many teachers' unions that "blocked hundreds of children from continuing their education at virtual public charter schools in 2020" throughout the Covid pandemic, Fox News writes.

Students' test scores in the state dropped to record lows. The Oregon legislature, meanwhile, approved a union-backed bill in August 2021 that extended until 2024 a suspension of the state requirements that "students demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and math to graduate from high school."

Governor Kate Brown dropped the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills by signing Senate Bill 744 into law in July of 2021. She declined to say why she supported suspending the proficiency requirements.

The bill was not entered into the legislative database until July 29, a departure from the standard practice of updating the public database the same day a bill is signed. Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, said the governor’s staff told legislative staff the same day the governor signed the bill.

Boyle said in an emailed statement that suspending the reading, writing, and math proficiency requirements will benefit "Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color."

He added: "Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and support."

The unions have also continued to increase the amount of explicit sexual content and Critical Race Theory that is taught to students, against the wishes of parents.

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