Effort to boost tribal early learning collapses 3 years after mandate by Oregon Legislature – Oregon Capital Chronicle:

But in October — after 14 months of meetings and nearly $2 million in state and federal funds allocated — the committee scrapped plans for the early learning hub entirely, saying it had found no way to structure it in a way that would honor each tribe’s sovereignty. The committee put its funding toward grants distributed among the tribes, but those decisions were made in meetings that were not open to the public, possibly in violation of Oregon’s open-meetings laws, InvestigateWest found. And Atanacio, who said she received little support in her role leading the early learning division’s work with tribes, was demoted suddenly in July 2023 and then resigned. For six months after, all three of the early learning department’s tribal affairs positions remained vacant.

It’s hard to interpret this as anything other than the state wasting $2 million dollars. I’m not saying that it was unreasonable to try, but clearly there was no committee oversight. 

“Honor each tribe’s sovereignty” is such a political phrase. Education, say learning English, isn’t dependent a tribe’s sovereignty. Learning to count 1-2-3 doesn’t impinge on the rights of the tribes. This is a bogus answer designed to mislead people, many of whom will accept any reason for why something didn’t work. 

However, the Tribal Early Learning Hub remains required under the law passed in 2021, and Alyssa Chatterjee, director of the Department of Early Learning and Care, said the statute must be amended to allow the committee to permanently stop working on it. But the department is bringing no proposed fix forward during the 2024 Legislative session, saying tribes need more time to work out an alternate plan.

Oregon’s newly created Department of Early Learning and Care appears to be just as bad as the Department of Education, which is pretty bad. Alyssa Chatterjee was Gov. Kate Brown’s deputy education policy advisor, so this shouldn’t be unexpected. Still, one can see the rationale for why the DELC exists:

In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3073, which provided for the next evolution in early learning and child care in our state.

House Bill 3073 established a new early learning agency – called the Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) – that consolidated all child care programs and early care and education programs in one place beginning January 1, 2023.

As part of this consolidation, the Employment Related Day Care program (ERDC) moved to the new agency. ERDC is a child care subsidy program originally housed in the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) that exists to help parents maintain stable employment on their path to self-sufficiency and to help children access high-quality child care. Both of which increase a child’s likelihood of success in school and beyond.

DELC was created to provide a more responsive child care and early learning system that can address the needs of children, families and providers, particularly our most vulnerable families.

All of that sounds reasonable. But it’s being run by progressive Democrats so, as always, the devil’s in the details:

Equity Commitment

Our communities that are historically furthest from opportunity represent Oregon’s best opportunity to improve educational outcomes. African Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native Americans, rural communities and families living in economic hardship are the focus of our work so children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. Strength-based approaches and asset-based mindsets will support our efforts to institutionalize equity and help all families thrive.

Our Division supports culturally responsive services – services that respond to the aspects of diverse communities – that are respectful of and relevant to the beliefs, practices, culture and linguistic needs of diverse populations and communities. To support children to learn and families to thrive, we support differentiated, family-centered resources and support. This work requires knowledge and capacity at different levels of intervention: systemic, organizational, professional and individual.

DELC is committed to providing all children and families spaces where they feel respected, valued and have the best opportunities to thrive.

This is of course the path to ruin. The educational skills and knowledge that allow kids the opportunities for success in the world do not bend themselves to “the beliefs, practices, culture and linguistic needs of diverse populations and communities.” In fact, some of these things might be the problem! 

Let’s say a community has a culture of always showing up late. It is not educationally helpful to support this practice. It is the type of thing that leads to failure in school, in the business world, and—one hardly need add—in life. 

Back to the Tribal Early Learning Hub: 

…The lawmakers who created the early learning hub haven’t publicly expressed much interest in the committee’s progress or how the money was spent. When InvestigateWest reached out to the 10 members of the legislative committee overseeing the early learning department, only one, Rep. Anna Scharf, responded, saying that she was “basically unaware” that the tribal committee even existed.

Meanwhile, tribal representatives on the committee said their rejection of the hub doesn’t mean they’re not fulfilling their mission — they’re just approaching the same goals a different way.

$2 million down the drain and no oversight.Your state government at work.