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In Oregon, A Confederation Of Dunces

Self with graven idol of Our Spiritual Benefactor, Mr. I.J. Reilly

A reader who is a member of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators passes along an e-mail from the Mothership. You aren’t going to believe what concerns the Oregon school administrative class now. On second thought, you certainly will!:

Dear COSA members,

A little over a year ago, I received an email from one of our aspiring administrators, Alesia Valdez. She asked a simple question: “Has the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators ever thought about changing the name of the organization?”

Alesia pointed out that the words “confederation” and “confederate” have historically racist associations, and wondered if it was time for COSA to update its name – to move away from a name that many would consider “outdated, offensive or racist,” and instead toward a name that would better represent the values that COSA and our members hold around “equity, diversity, inclusion and culturally-responsive practices.”

I contacted Alesia and let her know two things – first, that I appreciated her request and that I was taking it seriously, and, second, that a name change would require amending our Constitution and Bylaws through a process that would include consultation and engagement with the COSA Board of Directors and all COSA members.

After I received Alesia’s email, I sought out a number of the leaders of color in our organization to get their perspectives. Many told me that the “Confederation” in our organization’s name had been a barrier to their participation in our association and that they agreed the name should be changed.

I took Alesia’s request to the next meetings of the COSA Board of Directors and the COSA Equity Advisory Board, and together we developed a process for considering Constitution and Bylaws amendments to change the name of the organization.

In September, the COSA Board appointed a bylaws review committee and tasked them with bringing any draft amendments to the COSA Board meeting in December. The committee took a holistic view and recommended language that will strengthen and modernize our governing documents while also better reflecting the work that we do as an organization. The Board considered the draft amendments and voted unanimously to move them forward in the process. In addition to changing the “C” in COSA to “Coalition,” these amendments also include technical updates to reflect more current practice, such as updated anti-discrimination language. New additions also include specifically naming the COSA Equity Advisory Board as an official COSA committee with representation on the COSA Board of Directors, and new language acknowledging that students are at the center of our members’ work.

Here are the next steps in the process:

The draft Constitution and Bylaws amendments are attached today for your review and comment.
Beginning today, we are opening a comment period for members to provide their feedback and input. Feedback will be accepted through the close of business on March 16. To provide feedback, click this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/cosabylaws2020
The Board will review and consider member feedback and comments and consider approving proposed bylaws at its April meeting.

Pending Board approval, COSA members will vote on the proposed Constitution and Bylaws at the COSA Annual Conference in Seaside.

I want you to know that I appreciate Alesia’s question and all the conversations I have had with our members to date. I also want to thank the members of the COSA Board and the COSA Equity Advisory Board for their leadership and careful consideration.

COSA is a large and diverse organization with members operating not just in different school district settings, but in different political contexts. I know that members may have varying opinions about the significance of changing the name of our organization. But after several months of conversation with school and district leaders, I believe that these proposed changes are significant and meaningful and will result in COSA’s becoming a more inclusive and welcoming organization.

I encourage you to contact me personally if you would like to discuss further.



Craig Hawkins

Executive Director

On behalf of the hero of A Confederacy of Dunces, I would like to register my faux-operatic disgust at these progressive nitwits. Afraid of the word “confederation.” Not “confederacy,” which is itself a perfectly normal Latinate word, but “confederation.” Because there are people of color in it who actually say, presumably with a straight face, that they felt unwelcome in the organization because of the word “confederation.”

Honestly, Oregon school administrators. Honestly. Y’all need some proper theology and geometry. It probably wouldn’t hurt you to come down to Mardi Gras to chill the heck out.

UPDATE: A Twitter follower of mine says this is even worse than we thought. “COSA” is only one letter away from “CSA”.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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