With the passage of No Child Left Behind, public education became dominated by a corporate-driven accountability paradigm that led to a system of standards and standardized assessments that were coupled with federal funding requirements guiding state departments of education. Matters that had been the purview of classroom teachers moved to a new group of testing and big data administrators.
Alarmed by this shift away from the expertise and experience of teachers, who are closest to the children, a group of retired educators in Oregon gathered to share their concerns and formulate a response. On July 24, 2017, at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, Pat Eck and twenty former teachers met at the first Summer Summit and soon established the Oregon Public Education Network [OPEN]. During the day-long convocation, initial priorities and a plan of action was formulated. Over a casual dinner, the group benefited from a presentation by Dr. David Berliner, a distinguished professor and author of 50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools .
A winter Steering Committee Summit was held on November 18, 2017 to share progress and develop next steps. On December 2, 2017, Larry Lewin, another OPEN leader, met with the Wisconsin Public Education Network to learn about their structure. Later that spring, on March 24, 2018, the Steering Committee met with Scott Nine, then Executive Director of Future for Learning, to get further guidance on organizational structure. Insights from those initial meetings have guided OPEN’s action since then.