Who is in charge around here anyway? An action guide for education consumers


Below are organizations that allocate money, set policy, or influence policy. What you can do about it is in red. You will learn as you go.

It seems like policy decisions would be straightforward--the federal government—state government—local districts but in fact there are a lot of other players.  Often change comes from the bottom or from the sides, not top-down.  Effective advocates learn about the overall structure, decide which group is best to begin with, and then get to know more about how the group operates.  In Oregon, nearly every government entity observes an open meeting rule and most have online meetings.  Watching these is a good way to get to know about many unwritten processes and learn about the priorities of the group's members.



The US Department of Education sends money, has some standards for spending it, usually doesn’t have any measures for accountability.

Congress allocates money, sets national educational policies

Talk to your representative and senators, sign up for their newsletters, write letters, make phone calls. 

The Oregon Legislature page will also take you to your members of Congress https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/



The Governor—creates a budget, signs laws

            Attend campaign events and ask questions



The Legislature—writes laws and allocates money

        Policy committees (if new law has no cost)  

The chairs or co-chairs of Ways and Means (everything else)

Learn to find your way around the legislative website.  Find out who represents you.  Sign up for their newsletters.  Attend town halls and events and introduce yourself. Sign up for committee agendas and bill alerts, join OATAG, watch public hearings, write letters, make phone calls.

Talk to your representative and senator and to policy committee members when relevant. Find up-to-date information on the homepage for each committee

Learn more about communicating with your legislators here

See also the legislature's citizen information pages:




The Oregon Department of Education—writes rules and advises the state board, administers assessments, hears appeals.  Like most Oregon state agencies, the DoE has a Rules Advisory Committee but it does not hold public meetings.

  Sign up for alerts about rules hearings. Watch public hearings on proposed rules, testify, contact state TAG specialist and/or other agency staff when relevant. Appeal when relevant



Rules Committee Agendas


The Oregon State School Board—approves rules.  The Board accepts public testimony concerning its agenda at every board meeting.

In addition, the Board conducts public hearings for proposed new rules

            Sign up for agendas, watch public hearings on proposed rules and other issues, testify




The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC)—is like a state board for teacher licensure and standards of education

            Watch public meetings, public may testify for 3 minutes



The Higher Education Coordinating Commission HECC. AND Oregon’s higher education institutions which educate our teachers

            sets rules, accepts public comment

            Attend public meetings and public hearings



The Educator Advancement Council (EAC)

            Coordinates and provides professional development, issues reports

            Watch public meetings



Oregon Association of Education Service Districts (OAESD)  and 19 Education Service Districts (ESDs)

            Provide services especially special education and language services

            Get to know the members of your local ESD



Your local school board, school district and school system

            sets district policy, allocate local funding, hire superintendent

Every year, every district submits a document to its community and the Department of Education certifying that it is in compliance with state education standards.  These "Division 22 Assurances" can be found on the Department of Education website. These standards include Oregon's three TAG rules: identification, communication and services.

        Division 22 Compliance Reports

Sign up for agendas, watch public meetings, write letters, testify, join/create a parent group, complain when necessary



INFLUENCERS (you can be one too!)


Quality Education Commission

            Tasked by the legislature with developing recommendations for school funding




Oregon Education Association



Oregon School Boards Association



Coalition of Oregon School Administrators



Professional organizations (school counselors, math teachers, etc)

Variety of education advocacy groups including OATAG and the NAGC

“Community based organizations” created by the Student Success Act—NOT including TAG

Businesses (including nonprofits):

Textbook and curriculum publishers

Northwest Educational Assessment (NWEA) (publish the MAP test) and other assessment


Various school contractors

Education Northwest

Carries out grant-funded research and training including the accelerated learning dashboard: http://apps.educationnorthwest.org/or-accelerated-learning-dashboard/


Various businesses and community organizations with some interest in education:

League of Women Voters, NAACP, Rotary, Women in Technology, employers, charities, Facebook and social media groups


News media 

Your relatives, friends, and neighbors.

            Tell them you care about TAG services.