With Oregon’s legislative session started, one would have expected the usual first meeting of the Senate Education Committee to be, well, usual – but that’s not what happened. Within minutes of the Oregon Department of Education having started their presentation, our district’s senator, Sara Gelser Blouin started throwing them tough questions, which they did not seem prepared for.
Earlier that day, Gelser Blouin said Oregon was “failing” students with special needs, as well as those that have been historically underserved. She also called the matter an “emergency” requiring the use of additional state powers.
Richard Donovan, a legislative specialist with the Oregon School Boards Association, or OSBA, summarized Gelser Blouin’s’ questioning of the ODE, stating, “Her Senate appearance demonstrated that special education students and the treatment of those students in school will be a main topic of discussion this session.”
Fewer Education Bills: Donovan also noted an OSBA survey that showed only about 60 bills submitted by the governor on behalf of the agency, when usually the number would in the hundreds. He also went on to observe,” The small number of bills likely means that Gov. Tina Kotek is finalizing submissions as she settles into her new office. Agencies spend almost a full year before the start of a session crafting their bills and vetting them internally, and agency bills often drive which topics the Legislature will address. Any delay makes it harder for advocates to prepare for those discussions before the bills start moving through committees.”
Tech Safeguards for Kids: A small but growing number of states have started passing laws to protect children online, both generally and in terms of privacy. California was first, and now our state legislature is considering doing the same.
Oregon’s SB 196 would require companies to consider the “best interests of children” in designing their products and services if it’s reasonably likely that folks under 18 will be accessing them. Specifics would be ironed out by a task force in 2024, with the bill taking effect after that.
The law is similar to the one already passed in California, and tech firms are not loving it. NetChoice, an industry group whose members include Meta, TikTok and Google among others, sued to block the California law, arguing it violates the First Amendment.
Notably, there’s been a growing body of research showing social media sites are harmful for children and teens, and earlier this month the Seattle School District filed a suit against the companies over the mental health crisis impacting youth.
Corvallis School Board Meets Tonight: Slated for the usual 6:30 pm at the Lincoln School gym, the agenda includes the Educational Service District plan for 2023-25, and a resolution acknowledging Black History Month. Click here for access.
Arabic Language and Culture Club: Beginning Feb. 7, the School District resumes this in person K-5 offering at Letitia Carson on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
The club was created as a learning space for heritage, native, and simultaneous Arabic-speaking students to learn and grow their linguistic skills in writing, speaking, listening, and comprehension. In addition, the club provides students the opportunity to be in community with other students who share similar cultural roots and values.
Participating students will receive a meal. Parents/guardians will need to provide their own transportation. For information or registration click here.
Ocean Nerd Film Fest: We’re just gonna confess, there are Advocateers among us that may be just a ‘little’ preoccupied by all things oceanic – so yes, we can tell the future, and it involves a drive to Newport.
The inaugural Big Blue Film Fest offers sixteen ocean themed films over two days, Jan. 27 and 28, and it’s located at one of our favorite happy places, the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The festival is an opportunity to raise awareness about marine issues and engage the community in scientific research in an entertaining way, organizers said. It is a new iteration of the popular Hatfield Marine Science Center Film Festival that ran from 2016 to 2019.
“We are thrilled to be bringing a film festival back to Hatfield. Some amazingly talented filmmakers are participating in this inaugural festival and their creativity brings marine science to life in a way that informs, inspires and entertains,” said Hatfield Marine Science Center Director Bob Cowen. “Truly, there is something for everyone at the BBFF.”
Filmmakers from 46 different countries submitted 169 films for consideration for the festival. Three of the selected films were directed by students at Oregon State University and one was directed by an Oregon State staff member. Four award-winners were selected by a panel of judges including Cowen and Marine Mammal Institute Director Lisa Ballance.
The festival will be held in the auditorium of the Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. A reception with complimentary food and drinks will be hld before the Friday night screening, which also includes an awards ceremony for the winning filmmakers. On Saturday, refreshments will sold between screenings.
The schedule is:
Block A: Stunning Seascapes, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. Reception begins at 5:15 p.m. Films: Best film award-winner “Fire Under the Sea,” directed by Gil Kebïili and Roberto Rinaldi; “Oregon’s Edge: The Creative South Coast,” directed by Oregon State’s Darryl Lai of OSU Productions; and “The Sanctuary,” directed by Timothy Raymond Brown and Michael Bruce Portway.
Block B: Exploring the Tides, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 28. Films: Best in education award-winner “Horseshoe Crabs: How 350-Million-Year-Old Sea Creatures are Vital to Survival,” directed by Andrea Kramar; “Oregon Surfing: A Vital Way of Life,” directed by Oregon State’s Maia Insinga (student film); “ISIIS,” directed by Oregon State’s Ellie Lafferty (student film); and “Undersea,” directed by Jannik Splidsboel.
Block C: Untold Stories, 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28. Films: Most inspiring film award winner “Reclaim Your Water: Natasha Smith,” directed by Faith E. Briggs; “Pumping at Sea,” also directed by OSU’s Lafferty (student film); “Salt Lines,” directed by Dan McDougall; “Two Kinds of Water,” directed by Dan McDougall; and “Above Water,” directed by Kentaro Yoshimura.
Block D: Majestic Marine Life, 4 to 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28. Films: Best student filmmaker award winner “Kelp Me Please,” directed by Fiona Cummings, Helena Miller and Sienna Cooper (student film); “Journey of Theresia,” directed by Jessika Raisor; “Close Encounters,” directed by Daniel Aldaya; and “The Sand-Eating Shark,” directed by Bertrand Loyer.
Additional information about each film is available on the event website.
All access passes are $20 for adults and $12 for students, including K-12 and college students. Passes provide access to all films shown during the festival; tickets are not available for individual blocks of films. All access passes must be purchased online; to purchase tickets, visit: https://filmfreeway.com/BigBlueFilmFestival/tickets?welcome=true. Seating is limited so purchasing in advance is recommended.
The Big Blue Film Fest is a collaboration of several Oregon State University organizations, including Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Marine Studies Initiative and OSU Productions, as well as community partners.