OEA Choice Trust is committed to equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility in all aspects of our work and on behalf of all Oregon education employees. We know that intention alone will not change things. In our Equity Stance below, we have developed a list of commitments to help guide our work and that demonstrate what we have done, what we are doing and where we would like to go.
The following equity stance, acknowledgement and organizational commitments were written and agreed upon by the OEA Choice Trust staff and Board of Trustees in 2022. This document will evolve as we continue to learn and consciously address our mistakes. We have provided a glossary of words and concepts that may have different meanings or associations to each reader in an effort to create a shared foundation from which we can learn together.
OEA Choice Trust is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of Oregon public education employees. This dedication honors the diverse identities of all education employees including race, ethnicity, social or economic class, age, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or religion. We believe that the elements of well-being – physical, social, emotional, financial, and sense of purpose – should be supported in ways that respect the whole individual.
We want to acknowledge that we hold all injustice equally. We lead explicitly – though not exclusively – with race because racial injustices persist in every system, at the individual, institutional and structural levels. When looking at other dimensions of identity, there are inequities based on race. Recognizing this helps us take an intersectional approach, while always naming the role that race plays in people’s experiences and outcomes.
We cannot fully support the health and well-being of all public education employees in Oregon without acknowledging our state’s history of racism and the impact it has had on our educational system. The absence of Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) educators is not a coincidence but a reflection of systemic racism that contributes to BIPOC students’ educational outcomes and therefore the upward mobility of people claiming these identities. , The issue of recruiting and retaining diverse educators is in large part due to generations of racialized trauma. This trauma is compounded by microaggressions experienced by BIPOC educators on a daily basis in the education settings in which they serve. According to the 2020 Oregon Educator Equity Report, over the past decade, racially, ethnically and/or linguistically diverse educators across the U.S. are leaving the profession at higher rates than their White colleagues. Among the broader racially, ethnically and/or linguistically diverse teacher workforce, the number of Black and Indigenous educators is declining faster than their other diverse peers.
In addition to recognizing the role of racial injustice in our education system, the Trust has an obligation to recognize and interrupt inequities in accessibility in the westernized wellness industry. This industry has historically upheld systems of privilege and inequality and has found success promoting the idea that individuals all have the same opportunity to become healthy and well. We recognize that the health of individuals is impacted by social determinants of health and access to community care. We acknowledge the lack of diversity, ability bias and exclusivity the wellness industry has created and continues to profit from.
As OEA Choice Trust moves forward in its work to support the holistic well-being of Oregon’s public education employees, we will listen and learn in ways that are equitable and accessible to all. We will explore preconceived notions and our implicit biases around race and all identities that intersect to uphold systems of oppression so that we are equipped to recognize and interrupt the effects of white toxicity and privilege. We know that we do not have all the solutions and we will seek guidance as an organization from partners, community members and collaborators as we correct our mistakes and move toward greater well-being.
We have developed a list of commitments to help guide our work. This list is not permanent or exhaustive; it demonstrates what we have done, what we are doing now and where we would like to go.
To that end, OEA Choice Trust commits to taking a stand against injustice by:
- We commit to recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse staff and providing all employees with an inclusive environment that fosters their collective success and supports their ongoing education through trainings and professional development opportunities focused on DEIJ+A.
- We commit to practicing collaborative decision making among board and staff, where we recognize power and privilege exist.
- We commit to using a variety of culturally responsive data collection strategies to identify needs and systemic barriers, inform planning and determine the effectiveness of Trust resources and benefits.
- We commit to collaborating with diverse partners throughout the state to justify that educator well-being is instrumental to creating an equitable, inclusive, anti-racist, and anti-classist education system.
- We commit to hiring external contractors and consultants that align with Trust values and that are committed to accessibility and equity for all.
- We commit to building trusting relationships with individuals and organizations that bring diverse perspectives to deepen our cultural humility and co-create programs, resources and benefits.
- We commit to convening and facilitating professional learning experiences and practices that are responsive and respectful of the diverse needs and lived experience of all participants.
- We commit to developing grant making policies and practices that are equitable, inclusive, and accessible.
- We commit to prioritizing the needs of underrepresented education employees by funding and supporting well-being programs and resources that promote belonging and are intolerant of racism, discrimination, and bias.
- We commit to considering all possible audiences and determining communication and outreach strategies that will engage those who have been historically excluded and foster inclusion, respect, equity and accessibility.
EQUITY STANCE GLOSSARY
The Equity Stance Glossary was created to help readers understand the italicized words in the Equity Stance. Please click the button below to see definitions for the italicized words and our sources for these definitions.