April 10, 2017

Dear Community Members and Supporters,

The Multnomah Youth Commission, the official youth policy body for the City of Portland and Multnomah County, is a diverse group of up to 42 youth between the ages 13 to 21, that live, work, or go to school in the City of Portland or Multnomah County. We are housed out the Multnomah County Office of Diversity and Equity and City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement.

We, the Multnomah Youth Commission (MYC), voted unanimously on March 12, 2017 to endorse House Bill 2845. This bill is created to put Ethnic Studies in all K-12 schools.

House Bill 2845 aligns with our policy priorities and our vision for a more equitable education for all students in Oregon K-12 public schools. MYC continuously seeks youth input on issues affecting young people in Multnomah County and the City of Portland, through focus groups, summits, and community engagement. From this input we have developed policy recommendations, and two of our policy priority areas align with the goals of HB 2845. Our Youth Against Violence policy priorities include ensuring that our schools are welcome and inclusive of students from all backgrounds. Ethnic studies helps to achieve that goal. Our Education policy recommendations are aimed at minimizing chronic high school student absenteeism and include the recommendation: “Incorporate diversity, disability, sexuality, etc. into traditional curriculum to raise awareness with staff and students.”

Multnomah Youth Commissioners weigh in on the importance of this bill and how it will and can change youth’s future. MYC co-chair Lashawn McCarthy says, “With the diverse body of youth we have in our commission and in our community, it is vital that we have their history reflected in our education.” Another Multnomah Youth Commissioner, Shayla Zhen says, “It sucks that we don’t know about our own culture and history. ” Jessica Monje-Perez says, “We are still learning that Christopher Columbus discovered America. That is a falsehood we tell children growing up but it is a lie that our community lives by.” This bill will play an important role in our future to bring awareness to the people and communities around us, to make a world where we all are united.

Thank you community members and supporters.

Multnomah Youth Commission