We Must Take Back Our School Board on May 18th
Several months ago Progressive Salem Board members participated in a coalition of key progressive stakeholders dedicated to winning four seats on the Salem Keizer School Board in May 2021. The group included racial justice organizations, BIPOC youth, parent and school advocates, progressive organizations, educators, labor leaders, and others who share a long term vision of change for the School Board.
After a careful process involving interviews with 10 potential candidates, the coalition selected this highly-qualified slate of four candidates, who, if elected, will become the new progressive majority on the Salem-Keizer School Board
Zone 1 Osvaldo Avila
Osvaldo is the son of Mexican immigrant farmworkers who had few opportunities in life. His father had to drop out of school in the third grade. Growing up, teachers dismissed Osvaldo’s potential, and called him “a future ditch digger”. Yet, he believed in his education, and ultimately earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy from PSU. He has had an 18-year career in Higher Education, focusing on helping Latinx students gain access to and succeed in college. He is now a Talent, Innovation, & Equity Administrator with the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. To learn more go to: https://www.osvaldo4skboard.com/.
Zone 3 Ashley Carson Cottingham
Ashley is a 5th generation Oregonian whose grandparents were farmers and educators. She is an attorney who has spent her life advocating for children, seniors, people with disabilities, and accessible health care. Her accomplished career includes working for a US Senate committee on health care and serving as Director of the Oregon Office of Aging and People with Disabilities. She is now Deputy Director at the State Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. To learn more go to: https://www.ashley4oregon.com.
Zone 5 Karina Guzman Ortiz
Karina is the proud daughter of immigrants from Hidalgo, Mexico. Raised in Salem, and now the mother of two children in Salem-Keizer schools, she has deep roots in our Latinx community. She will bring great experience to the Board, from working as a substitute teacher in the School District, running the CAPACES youth program, and working for community-based organizations to build and strengthen community and family relationships. Karina earned a Masters of Social Work at PSU and now works in the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education. To learn more go to: www.Karinafororegon.com.
Zone 7 Maria Hinojos Pressy
Maria is the mother of preschooler in a bilingual, bicultural family. She has a Master’s in Sociology, and is the Operations Director at PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union, and the Willamette Valley Law Project. She is a committed volunteer and Latinx community advocate, serving on the Cherriots Board of Directors, the Keizer Points of Interest Committee, the Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality, and Lutheran Community Services Refugee Resettlement Program. To learn more go to: www.maria4oregon.com.
Why We Must Take Back our School Board
Despite our best efforts in the last two election cycles, our school district has been taken over by extreme Right-to-Life Republicans who have refused to listen to students of color, their parents and many educators.
This takeover began in 2015 with the election of Marty Heyen and continued with the election of Kathy Goss and Jesse Lippold in 2017. In 2019 the takeover was completed with the reelection of Heyen and the election of Danielle Bethell and Satya Chandragiri. All of these candidates received major campaign funding from Oregon Right to Life and they ran stealth campaigns to hide their far right loyalities. The Board is now led by Chandragiri (Chair) and Bethell (Vice-Chair).
The Board failed to do anything to sanction their member, Paul Kyllo, who wore a blackface mask throughout an entire Board meeting last year. They have turned a deaf ear to hundreds of students, parents and teachers who have been demanding an end to the School to Prison Pipeline. They refused to read a proclamation for Gay Pride Month, and Marty Heyen even stated her belief that sexual orientation and gender identity was a "lifestyle." They were openly criticized by Superintendent Christy Perry for not listening to students of color who make up the majority of students in the district.
And if you want to learn even more about why we need to take back our school board, you can read this detailed expose by ace reporter Eddy Binford-Ross that appeared in The Clypian, the South Salem High School newspaper.
On May 18th we can elect a new majority and take back our school board. We can replace Kathy Goss and Jesse Lippold and Paul Kyllo with progressive candidates who will listen to our students and teachers and really apply an equity lens to all of their decision-making. We can break the stranglehold that Oregon Right to Life and the Marion County Republicans have now on policy-making for Salem-Keizer schools. This task is urgent!
Here is what you can do to take back our school board. You can click on the links to candidate websites above and volunteer your time and make a donation. You can also donate to Progressive Salem's Take Back Our School Board Fund by clicking the red Donate button. All contributions to the fund will be used by Progressive Salem to send a mailer to thousands of progressive voters in the school district in April to inform them about the importance of voting for our progressive slate. Please send your donation today!