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Oregon’s Comeback: An 18 Point Plan - Educating for Our Economic Future

Oregon’s Comeback: An 18 Point Plan - Educating for Our Economic Future

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Published by: esherred on Sep 02, 2010
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Oregon’sPoint PlOur E
From PreA Foc
Comeback:n - Educatinonomic Futu
 -School through Collegs on Student Success
Friends of Chris Dudley5863 Lakeview Blvd.ake Oswego, Oregon 97035(503) 616-5350www.chrisdudley.com
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 Oregon’s Comeback: An 18 Point Plan - Educating for Our Economic Future  2
Educating for Our Economic Future
From Pre-School through College, A Focus on Student Success
Good work is going on in classrooms across Oregon. We have pockets of true excellence inour school districts, and so many of our state’s educators are conducting small daily miraclesin challenging circumstances. They’re making a difference in the lives of Oregon’s childrenevery day. You don’t have to be the son or brother of a teacher, as I am, to feel the need tothank them. Nor do I think you need be the parents of three students at Oregon’s publicschools, as my wife and I are, to acknowledge the debt we owe particular teachers or schools.But it is just as important that we candidlyassess the state of education in Oregon,from pre-school to college. Oregon’sstudents and the future of our state’seconomy depend on it. An honestassessment reveals that the state of education in Oregon is not good. Wemust change – quickly and in a big wayover a sustained period of time. Theeducation of today is the economy of tomorrow.The future of Oregon’s economy and itsability to overcome what Governor Kulongoski’s Reset Cabinet called alooming “decade of deficits” are directly tied to our ability to prepare the children of Oregon tocompete and win in the global marketplace. Oregon is not just competing with other states for  jobs and investment – it’s competing against other countries, particularly Pacific Rim countriesthat routinely out-score Oregon students in education.Nothing points to the lack of leadership on education more than Oregon’s humiliating failure inthe Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” and the reasons for that self-inflicted failure.Our state failed to make the funding list after the first round. We were 35th out of 40 and thuswithdrew from the race.
 We talk a lot about school funding problems, and those problems are all too real. Yet, other states have their own funding issues, and the “Race to the Top” was not about funding. TheU.S. Department of Education was looking at proposals that did not require additional funding.Oregon dropped out of the “Race” because of a massive failure of leadership, commitment andimagination. We were worse than losers in this. We were quitters. The forces of the status quoand the interests of adults prevailed over the urgency of change and the immediate bestinterests of Oregon children.
Race to the Top, Phase 1 Final Results
“[W]hile Obama and [Secretary of Education Arne] Duncan are calling for states to expand charter schools and adopt new ways of evaluating and paying teachers, the powerful Oregon Education Association has pretty muchstifled all progress on such reforms in Oregon.Never mind the president's clear belief that nimble charter schools are the best laboratoriesto test the best reform ideas, including new teaching practices, individualized instruction and extended school years. Oregon simply isn't all that interested.” 
- Rick Attig,
The Oregonian
, August 8, 2009
 Oregon’s Comeback: An 18 Point Plan - Educating for Our Economic Future 3
Here’s what Oregon’s “Race to the Top” made plain. We talk a good game, but our plans andstrategies are fragmented and disconnected. We’ve had a dysfunctional approach toattempting full-scale reform and have lacked the leadership to establish an aligned system. Asa state, Oregon has no strategy for ensuring that effective teachers are assigned to the lowestperforming schools. Our state has no accountability system or coherent strategy for turningaround our lowest performing schools. We have no true alternative pathways for potentialteachers to enter the profession from anything other than a higher-ed track.Again, it’s not that we haven’t had plans – we have. Some have been good, and somemisconceived. Some have borne fruit at the local level, and the results are impressive. At thestate level, however, the plans have often amounted to endless talk, a diversion of valuableresources and, in the end, a waste of time and missed opportunities.The prime example is Oregon’s Educational Act for the 21st Century passed in 1991, with itsCertificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) and Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM). After twodecades of meetings, paperwork, debate, deadlines set and delayed, and goals establishedand defined down, Oregon’s Department of Education finally recognized the obvious anddeclared the CIM and CAM dead letters. It’s unfortunate that Oregonians had to give so muchto achieve so little.In the meantime, Oregon’s failure to keep pace economically and change the way we deliver state and school services has hurt our schools and universities. The current recession has onlyexacerbated a drop in per-student funding over the past decades. Districts have responded byreducing school days and course offerings, increasing class sizes, and cutting summer schoolor drop-out prevention programs. New curriculum adoptions and efforts to boost studentachievement have been put off. The graduation rate for all students is 84 percent, but for Hispanic students it is even lower at 70.5 percent. More alarming is the rate for African-American students, currently at 68.5 percent.
As the Reset Cabinet reported, “Oregon'sstatewide drop-out rate is significant and many individual schools simply are not achieving therobust graduation rates we should expect.”“Oregon's K-12 education system is on a path to becoming unable to provide a minimal 180-day calendar, a comprehensive program, and the necessary support structures for teachers toteach and students to learn,” the Governor’s Reset Cabinet noted, pointing out that the mainproblem was that costs are increasing at 13 to 17 percent while annual increases in fundinghave been running at 6 to 9 percent.
Key parts of these rising costs are increases in labor costs forced by the Public Employee Retirement System and health care benefit packages,which together are eroding dollars otherwise available for classroom instruction.In 1990, state support totaled 30 percent of local schools’ operating budgets. Today, 67percent of our schools’ operating budgets come from Salem.
In terms of both governance andaccountability, we continue to act as if it’s still 1990.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Oregon Statewide Report card 2008-2009
Final Report – Governor’s Reset Cabinet, June 2010, p. 43
Final Report – Governor’s Reset Cabinet, June 2010, p. 43

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