Welcome to the fall 2020-2021 school year!
As unprecedented as this past spring has been, this school year will also present unique challenges, as well as ways that we can learn and stretch ourselves to meet the demands of the time. OSPA worked diligently in the spring with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to develop evaluation guidance, titled as a companion to documents Ready Schools Safe Learners and Ensuring Equity and Access for All, found on the ODE website. Knowing that school psychologists would require additional precision and specificity to forward an effective practice, collaborating with colleagues to implement and strengthen universal, Tier 1 systems of support, and ensuring all learners have access to basic needs and supports for Social Emotional Learning and mental health in order to attend school and engage in instruction, OSPA finalized Guidance for Special Education Evaluation during COVID-19 in August to support Oregon’s school psychologists for when evaluation is required to provide academic and behavioral supports. This document is posted on the ODE website. OSPA has received initial feedback that the evaluation document has been useful to review and inform practice with colleagues in other disciplines; and since it’s post to ODE’s website, the evaluation document has gained credibility with administrators in citing best practice for specific evaluation practices.
OSPA Board Members have voted unanimously that OSPA stands for Black Lives Matter. As summer 2020 was met with tumult, with the death of George Floyd on May 25th, and as also echoed by the untimely death of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020 while she was sleeping in her bed; and then Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting on June 24, 2020, along with countless other senseless deaths of people of color, we are faced as a nation to reconcile the ethics and morality of our identity. OSPA’s 2020 spring-summer news-letter reported that OSPA had signed a School Psychology Unified Anti-Racism Statement and Call to Action as an organization, as written by Division 16 of the American Psychological Association (APA). The Anti-Racist statement is again posted in this news-letter. Social Justice is a call to action. OSPA has created a social justice working group, in alignment with NASP’s strategic goals, and a more complete description of the goals of this group are also included in this newsletter.
In NASP's Call for Action to end racism and violence against people of color, specific measures can be taken to address systemic racism, and to educate ourselves and our colleagues, among other activities, through the lens of implicit bias. As paraphrased by former Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, “Until the color of a [wo]mans skin is of no more significance than his [her] eyes, ...until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will be an illusion.” Likewise, as offered by Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, “…the struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”
Please note the virtual Fall 2020 Northwest + Hawaii Conference as this is not to be missed! This year’s conference is a collaboration of five States, hosted by Washington, also including Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. Celeste Malone from Howard University in Washington, D.C. will be presenting as a keynote speaker (Celeste Malone, PhD profile, Howard University). Celeste Malone is very active in the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and co-chair of the Social Justice Committee, among other active roles in NASP.
There is also an incredibly exciting list of presenters from Oregon, particularly to address a theme of Social Justice. Notably, OSPA is pleased to announce that Carmen Urbina, Executive Director and colleagues from the Oregon Department of Education will address how systemic racism impacts the lived experience of students of color and including mental health services in schools. An Integrated Model of Mental and Emotional Health that centers on the intersection of trauma-informed principles and practices, racial equity, social-emotional learning (SEL) and a strengths-focused multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), will be identified, including what this might look like in practice.
Additional speakers will speak to special education law during the time of COVID-19 and trauma-informed response to anxiety in response to school closure. The conference will be available through the Whova conference application. Critical information for registration is in this newsletter, and also listed on OSPA’s Facebook page. Please join us!