Chapter News

Salem-Keizer Needs a Progressive School Board!

April 4, 2021

Salem DSA is proud to endorse a progressive slate of candidates for Salem-Keizer School Board. Don’t let the Zone numbers throw you off—Board Directors are elected “at large” and you get to vote for all four! We invite you to join us in voting for all four candidates by May 18th.

Osvaldo Avila, Zone 1 

Ashley Carson Cottingham, Zone 3

María Cecilia Hinojos Pressey, Zone 5

Karina Guzmán Ortiz, Zone 7

After the 2019 School Board election, we published an analysis noting that “the right-wing did not win because they have majority support. They won because voter turnout was low, because Oregon Right to Life dumped money and attack ads, because Board members did not unite and speak out for Marquez and Salinas, and because the core working-class and people of color forces needed to win were not fully engaged.” Since then, we’ve seen right-wing reactionaries reject democracy outright at the national level, and we’ve seen our School Board take concrete anti-democratic action to silence public testimony at the local level. That’s why Salem DSA is so excited to contribute to a new coalition, Community for Salem-Keizer Schools, that represents a new level of grassroots, multi-racial solidarity between local progressive political groups and organized Labor. By coming together to identify and support a strong slate of candidates, we’re overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics that far-right School Board members have used in the past to stifle progress. 

The voices of families, students, educators, and staff should be prioritized by the Salem-Keizer School Board and the school district. Students and workers need a return to school that puts COVID safety first for the most vulnerable--we’ve seen how far our own bosses will push us into unsafe working conditions to keep profits flowing, and we can’t repeat those mistakes in schools. We need teacher autonomy in student assessment, teaching practices that support students with diverse needs, and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We needed smaller class sizes pre-COVID, but we especially need them now. Every student deserves a quality education. No student should face structural barriers along racial or financial lines. And of course, education jobs should be good union jobs. 

Salem DSA is confident in the individual qualifications and values of these four candidates. But even more importantly, they’re accountable to the community through the grassroots coalition supporting them. It’s as true today as it was in 2019 that “students, school staff, and working-class parents need to be in solidarity with one another and in direct control of the school system.” The coalition is focused on winning the election right now, as we should be. But the structure we’re building has potential to organize this solidarity toward more direct control over our schools. Flipping the School Board is the next step towards that goal, and we need your help to make it happen! Contact us to get involved.