Buck the Status Quo: New energy and focus for MESD with Stephen Marc Beaudoin and Siobhan Burke

By Carla "KC" Hanson and Joey Kerns of Portland, Oregon. KC is a regular BlueOregon contributor, former Multnomah County Democratic Party chair, and the current chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon LGBT caucus. Joey is a real estate agent, political and nonprofit activist, and past chair of the DPO LGBT Caucus.

As the old adage goes, "all politics is local". However, far too often, the local elections are ignored by voters and the status quo wins by default.  

Local races allow citizens to have a proportionally greater impact on policies that affect our lives.  However, the status quo is often upheld in these local races because the usual voter default is to vote for the incumbent or not cast a vote at all. We are much less likely to inform ourselves and make a decision in a May election as opposed to November and the drop off down-ballot is even more significant.

We cannot expect problems to be addressed and progressive policies implemented without breaking this trend. This election, Multnomah voters have a chance to address problems head-on in regard to some very unfortunate issues with Multnomah Education School District (MESD).

Two challengers in MESD Positions 6 and 7 are deserving of our attention and vote: Stephen Marc Beaudoin in Position 6 and Siobhan (pronounced "Chevon") Burke in Position 7. Beaudoin and Burke are endorsed by dozens of organizations and community leaders, and have recently received our endorsement from the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon (LGBT-DPO).  Both are professionals in specific areas in which MESD focuses and they currently serve some of the special needs students that are dependent upon an effective MESD. 

(An endorsement by the DPO LGBT Caucus is not an endorsement by the DPO as a whole nor an endorsement by DPO State Central Committee.)

MESD has had some ugly and prominent media play recently regarding the firing of 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham. Bigham alleges MESD attempted to prevent him from speaking as a gay man at public appearances and charges that MESD began a campaign of systemic harassment against him.  2 weeks after MESD hired its current interim Superintendent, Jim Rose, Rose fired Bigham. Only weeks after Bigham's firing, MESD then re-hired him and immediately put him on leave.

Beyond the Bigham saga, advocates for the MESD workforce also note that the organizational structure of MESD is top heavy and disorganized. Continuing controversy swirls around former Superintendent Barbara Jorgensen, and critics point to cumbersome employee assignment schedules, a lost district contract, heavy turnover and low morale.

In the MESD Position 6 race, Stephen Marc Beaudoin exhibits the commitment and energy needed to address these substantial issues facing MESD.  His focus is on providing the students served by MESD the best possible educational opportunities; he's passionate about issues of equity, and an advocate for the MESD workforce. He promises to be a highly engaged member of the MESD board and plans to build and sustain relationships from a broad coalition of community members, from parents to advocates to educators and administrators.

In MESD Position 7, Siobhan Burke will be enabled to expand upon her already exemplary commitment to her students. Burke has clearly defined herself as a candidate dedicated to inclusion and diversity. She understands the essential need for cultural competence in education in order that ALL students have their needs met. She brings to the position both focus and a work ethic that is fortified by her dedication to her students.

Burke and Beaudoin are unafraid of challenging the status quo.  Their dedication is defined by their service to special needs students, and both are significantly qualified to understand the demands placed on MESD staff. Both will provide the MESD Board with new and enthusiastic leadership that will benefit MESD staff and faculty and will ultimately provide students served by MESD with better educational services and opportunities.

Please don't support the status quo by leaving these boxes unchecked. Cast your votes for Stephen Marc Beaudoin and Siobhan Burke.

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