We are all too aware of the problems that a 30-year disinvestment in education has created. But, right now, we have an opportunity to make significant change.
We know that our students are being short-changed every year. Class sizes are still huge in many schools. Elementary schools need behavioral supports to address disrupted learning. Secondary students need more electives and access to more social and mental health services. We need school buildings with fully-staffed custodial support.
Twenty years ago, legislators, together with business and community leaders, developed the Quality Education Model (QEM). This was Oregon’s answer to the problem of education funding, but the State has NEVER met its own guidelines. As a result, PAT members, together with educators around the state, have supported numerous campaigns designed to secure more stable funding for our schools, including:
- Measures 66 and 67 in 2010
- Dedicating the corporate kicker to education in 2014
- Measure 97 in 2016
- Legislative push for revenue increases from major corporations in 2017-2018
We have never just stood by while this disinvestment happened, but advocating hasn’t been easy. At times, I’ve wondered if it was ever going change, and I’m sure you’ve wondered too.
In 2019, I’m asking you to join me again to push for real revenue for Oregon public education. And thanks to all our hard work in the past, I think the stars have finally aligned and we have a unique opportunity to fully fund education in Oregon.
First off, we have a governor who has set the baseline education budget at $200 million more than the forecast PLUS she has added an investment package of $2 billion more. That is 91% of the QEM--which is closer than we have ever been to full funding.
Second, we have a growing, bipartisan group of business and community leaders acknowledging that our schools need more funding.
And for the first time in my 15 years in the District, we have a supermajority in the Oregon legislature, not to mention the fact that the Senate President and House Speaker have both pledged to create a dedicated revenue package for education.
It’s up to us to keep them focused, and make sure they follow through with this funding.
We need billions, not millions.
That’s why I need you to join me in Salem on President’s Day for the biggest education rally yet. Monday, February 18th is our opportunity to show lawmakers that our schools need funding now, and our students can’t wait. Educators from around the state will be joining us wearing red. Please sign up now for this important action.
Superintendents, School Board members, parents and students will also there be there, letting the legislature know enough is enough. It’s time for Oregon to keep its promise to our kids and fully fund our schools. We hope you can join us, and bring your colleagues, family, and friends.