The 2017 Legislative Session: new leadership and promise of hope to fund schools and services.

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

 

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