Proposals in Oregon Senate aim to ease educator shortage

New proposals in the Oregon Senate focus on easing educator shortage. Learn more here.

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Schools nationwide and across Oregon have been facing educator shortages for years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oregon lawmakers are considering bills this session they believe will address the problem’s root causes. Among them are Senate Bill 279, which would make it easier and less cost-prohibitive for teachers from other states to work in Oregon, and Senate Bill 283, an omnibus bill that would tackle retention, pay and several aspects of educator recruitment and hiring practices.

Lawmakers said these bills would address staff and substitute shortages, burnout and barriers to entering public education professions. They build on last session’s House Bill 4030, which provided $78 million in grants to support personnel in K-12 schools across the state.

“Oregon has struggled to find and retain the educators we need to meet our kids’ needs, and the pandemic only made it worse,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, chair of the Senate education committee and the lawmaker who requested both bills.

“Based on feedback we’re receiving from our bipartisan, statewide educator workgroup tackling this issue,” he said, “we believe these bills will build a thriving, competitive education workforce and deliver better outcomes for students and teachers alike.”

Educator shortage

According to a 2021 report by the Oregon Education Association, districts statewide started the 2021-22 school year with significant vacancies. Some were scrambling to fill upwards of 180 unfilled positions. This, multiplied across the state’s 197 districts, meant Oregon schools were short thousands of educators, reflecting national trends.

Additionally, Oregon was supposed to meet a goal of one nurse for every 750 students by 2020. By 2021, the nurse staffing ratio was six times that, with one nurse for every 4,572 students, according to the association’s report. And Oregon’s decades-old special education teacher shortage continued as well, with the average turnover for this workforce 46% higher than other teachers.


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