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Teenager student doing a presentation in the classroom-cm

More of the Same

There’s no other way to put it: Eugene School District 4J is on a troubling path. It’s in a bad place. And its current school board is a huge part of the problem.

The board keeps making the news for all the wrong reasons, including bickering among board members during public meetings. Then there’s the huge controversy over the assignment given by a Churchill High School teacher in which students were asked to write about their sexual fantasies. Kelly Middle School and other facilities are literally crumbling.

Even if you put all that aside, or are somehow able to ignore it, there’s the fact that half of the district’s students cannot do math and read at their grade level. One fifth of them don’t graduate.

Why aren’t our students achieving their true potential?

It’s all a matter of priorities.

Valuable classroom instruction time is frequently diverted away from the critical areas our students will need to know to succeed in life and towards divisive political agendas. Our children are being set up for future failure in the real world.

Education is the key to students being able to achieve their dreams. This is done through the mastery of fundamental subjects like math, reading and writing. It is NOT done by telling them they’re victims of oppression or to resent and blame other people for circumstances beyond their control.

This May 16 election, we have the chance to fix what isn’t working at the school district. Or we can keep going with a status quo that is failing by any objective measure.

I’m running for Position 1 on the Eugene 4J school board. Also running is Tom Di Liberto.

What do we know about him? In short, he’s a career teacher who is endorsed by many of the same special interest groups that have been part of the problem. Some of those organizations are ones that the board will be bargaining with during contract negotiations, meaning that he will be beholden to them. Some of those same organizations have contributed millions of dollars to political campaigns at the state level and done little to address the underperformance of Oregon schools.

He’s made clear that he will be advocating for teachers, but what about parents?

His social media posts frequently make mention of things like “equity,” “systemic inequalities” and “historic marginalization,” but nothing about student achievement and performance and even less about accountability in what has become a very broken system.

He was in favor of prolonged school closures during the pandemic, where I pushed publicly for them to be open as soon as safely possible. He has repeatedly stated his opposition to testing our students, and I feel we need to demonstrate that our students are actually learning.

While I’ve spoken up about the inappropriate assignment that a Churchill High School teacher gave his students, in which he asked them to write about their sexual fantasies, my opponent has been quiet about it. How would he respond to incidents like those as a board member? We don’t know, because he hasn’t told us.

I fully support the immediate return of School Resource Officers (SROs) to our campuses and have made it one of my top issues. He has also remained silent about this. Is he opposed to SROs? If so, why?

I think that what we need the most on the Eugene School District 4J is a new set of priorities, one that more closely reflects what parents are asking for. It’s time to hold everyone in the district accountable for what has been going on. That includes the board itself.

A lot is at stake in this election for students and parents alike.

We have a golden opportunity to do something different and bring some much-needed change to an organization that is struggling amid scandal and dysfunction. Otherwise, we will end up with more of the same, and that is simply unacceptable.

I’m Dr. Michael Bratland and I’m running for Eugene School District 4J Board Position 1. I humbly ask for your vote and support to turn this troubled school board around.