Oregon PTA attended the Ways and Means Road Show at PCC Sylvania, in Portland. Across the board the message was clear, our state cannot afford to sustain cuts to essential services and education. There is no reason for it in this robust economy. Large and out of state corporations are not meeting their obligation to our children. We urged our state leaders to seek revenue to fund health care, senior services and education in Oregon.
The Oregon legislature began its work with many new faces in the legislature.This is a time of learning for them and a great opportunity for you to invite your legislators to have a conversation with your PTA.This legislative session will prove hard on education and critical services due in part to the expected budget shortfall. The Oregon School Boards Association says the Governor’s proposed budget is $500 million short of “current services” The only way we can grow funding for schools is to push the Governor and legislature to improve the budget and ideally grow revenue to offer sustainable and adequate funding for schools and services.
Right now plans for revenue are locked in a place where the lack of revenue is obvious but the legislative count means revenue will only advance with bipartisan support. We hear from the legislators and other community and business leaders that we know Oregon is short on revenue for schools but the path to win revenue eludes those leaders or other contingencies thwart the effort.
These are the stark realities of a budget shortfall:
- Oregon students receive one year less of instruction than the average US student enrolled in K-12 schools.
- Oregon has trailed around 15% below the national average in per student spending for many years, recent improvement in K-12 funding still leave us short on teachers (big class sizes) and not yet to the place we were with teachers, staff and offerings we had in Oregon schools before the recession.
- Our per student investment is 39th in the nation while our class size is 3rd largest and our outcome for graduation is that one in four students fail to graduate on time. We can do better.
- To sustain the progress for all Oregon students we must have revenue and a commitment to sustain revenue for early education through K-12 and into community college and higher Ed if we hope to win the future for all Oregonians, a modern economy requires modern skills for all.
Oregon PTA with the A Better Oregon Coalition have proposed a revenue plan and we will be working hard to make that happen at the legislature and with your help we can make some progress. The full report and plan can be seen here.
On the national level, the Senate confirmation process for the Secretary of Education will begin soon. There have been concerns about this appointment from many education advocates as candidate Betsy DeVos lacks the experience that the position requires. National PTA responded to the announcement that Betsy DeVos was chosen by the incoming administration. You can read their response here.
Kevin McHargue, Oregon PTA VP of Legislation
Otto Schell, Oregon PTA Legislative Director
Please join me at our annual leadership conference on April 21-22, 2017. Each year at our conference, we gather to celebrate our accomplishments, educate ourselves on issues that affect our children, and plan for the future of our association. It is critical that local PTAs are represented to share their voice as we elect officers to the state board, adopt resolutions to support and strengthen our legislative platform, and talk to each other about our challenges and successes as parent leaders in our communities.
This years theme is “Plug Into PTA”, and that’s what I am asking of you. To “Plug Into PTA” with us in Wilsonville.
Our gathering this year will be fun, educational, inspiring, and engaging. Please join PTA leaders and friends from all over the state for this important event.
I’ll see you there!
Collin Robinson, Oregon PTA President