Jan has a strong passion to help make life better for everybody in the community. She spent twenty-four years teaching middle school, special education, and adult education.
As a parent and grandparent, she has always been an advocate for a quality education for all children based on democratic principles. She has served on library boards, was a Girl Scout leader, as well as a steady school volunteer.
Jan is a member of the Oregon Retired Educators Association, the Multnomah Grange #71, Oregon Save Our Schools, and the Eastside democratic Club. Jan and her husband, Pat, started the Angry Grandparents Against High Stakes Testing (AGAHST).
Pat retired from twenty-seven (27) years working in Idaho public schools. He moved to Portland with his wife of forty-four years, Jan, in order to help raise two grandchildren, both of whom are currently attending public schools.
During his career, Pat has worked as a regular classroom teacher, sp. ed. teacher, school counselor, school psychometrist, sp.ed. director, and school principal preK-12. He has extensive experience setting-up and running school district-wide assessment programs.
Pat had a vision on what a comprehensive school program should consist of. This program should be closely connected to families and the community served. This program should address the development of the whole person into a productive citizen. He was fortunate enough to find the resources and support to begin implementation. The “Assets for Lifelong Learning Project” (ALL) was awarded the Idaho’s Generation of the Child Brightest Star Award by Governor Dirk Kempthorne in 2003, for making a difference in the lives of Idaho’s children. The program followed a full service school model that provided opportunities such as: NAEYC accredited preschool program, Mini-Real micro-society in grades k-3, latchkey programs, summer activity programs, youth work programs, high school to adult life transition classes, art programs, and increased the availability of healthcare and social work services.
2003 is the year that No Child Left Behind started to make a big impact on the schools where Pat worked. The superintendent told Pat that the school district was transitioning to using high-stakes testing to guide school reform. Resources for ALL were being moved to support reforms that had not been proven to work.
An activist was born. Pat has worked very hard since 2003 advocating not only against the misuse of testing but also for positive, evidenced-based school reforms that are equitable, linked closely with family/community and are resourced at an adequate level. Wife Jan and Pat created the Angry Grandparents Against High Stakes Testing (AGAHST) and have been active at protests, political town halls, and presenting at a variety of venues.
Deb Mayer attended public schools all her life. Her family moved around a lot, and by the time she was in high school, she had moved 16 times. There was never any question that there would be a public school for her to attend at each destination. She has three sons, each of whom received a great public education. But over the past decade, public schools have come under attack by the millionaires and billionaires who want to privatize them. Deb came to the realization that public schools may become a thing of the past with a jolt.
Deb stumbled into education advocacy when in 2003 she was fired from her teaching job in Bloomington Indiana for making an innocuous statement in support of peace before the war in Iraq began. Blacklisted by the school, she sued for violation of her First Amendment right of free speech and wrongful termination. In Mayer v. Monroe, aka the “Honk for Peace” case, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that teachers have no right of free speech, “ . . . a teacher’s speech is a commodity she sells to the school in exchange for a salary.” It wasn’t until a few years later that Deb would recognize the impact of the strategy behind that ruling.
In 2009, when she realized the real game changer was corporate reform led by the triumvirate of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton family, Deb organized a nonprofit, Great Schools for America, focusing on Edwatch, a database identifying anti-public education organizations. A couple of years later, Oregon Save Our Schools (OSOS) galvanized when a group of concerned parents and educators recognized the destructive nature of Stand for Children. Deb is a founding member of OSOS, which became an affiliate of Parents Across America.
Over the past 40 years, Deb’s teaching career has run the gamut from teaching at the poorest school in Indianapolis Public Schools, to putting educational theory into practice at the world renown Key School, to teaching a summer session at Punahou (President Barak Obama’s alma mater), to running a small elite charter — The Island School in Boca Grande, Florida. She also served as an adjunct faculty member of Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) for many years.
In her spare time Deb blogs about education issues and seeks out politicians to champion the cause of public education. She does volunteer grant writing for organizations that directly address issues of equity and poverty. She also moderates Free Speech Nation, Don’t Teach for America, and Key Math Lab PDX.