Are Our Students Worth Four Billion Dollars?

The results are in. After talking with parents, students, and educators around the state for the past year, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success just released their final report.

Four billion dollars.

That is how much money Oregon needs to invest if we want to guarantee essential educational services for our schools and all our students. In their report, the bipartisan committee outlines how they arrived at this number, and what 4 billion dollars could do for our schools. Here are just a few examples:

Funding for smaller classes:

  • 20 students in kindergarten and grade 1
  • 23 students in grades 2 and 3
  • 24 students in grades 4 and 5
  • 29 students in core academic classes in grades 6 to 12

Funding to support specialists in every elementary school: This includes an art teacher, music teacher, PE teacher, TAG teacher, teacher librarian, ELL teacher, and school counselor.

Funding to support struggling students: This includes establishing dedicated funding and requiring schools to establish before- or after-school tutoring and supports for struggling students. Also requiring every District to adopt an intervention strategy and equip every District with an early warning system for students at risk of dropping out, including students who are chronically absent.

Early interventions: This includes increased access to intensive early childhood services such as Early Head Start and Relief Nurseries. 

Read the report for all the recommendations. If you believe, as I do, that our students, schools and future are absolutely worth it, now’s the time to join the conversation. Your voice matters!

The truth is, we have been living with decades of disinvestment. For almost 30 years, the state legislature has avoided stepping up to fund public education.

But this is our window of opportunity! We have a democratic super-majority in the House and the Senate, and leaders from both chambers have vowed to address education funding. We also have a pro-education governor and a report from the bipartisan Joint Committee for Student Success outlining necessary programs (and funding) to help our students succeed. And there’s a wave of public educators rising up across the nation. For example, our neighbors in Washington and California have just made huge gains by coming together.

Unfortunately, there are also vested interests who don’t want to see our public schools or our students succeed. They will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying their fair share. It’s up to us to make it clear to lawmakers in Salem that we’ve had enough, and that we’ll do whatever it takes to fund the schools our students deserve.

But we can’t win if we don’t show up. Our first big chance is Monday February 18th, President’s Day. Thousands of educators from across the state will be in Salem that day, letting lawmakers know we won’t pass up this chance to finally reverse decades of disinvestment. If you believe our students and our schools need more, then you know you belong in Salem.

We have buses leaving from all over the city, and you’ll be home in time for a late lunch. Sign up today!

Our careers, our students, our schools, our FUTURE depend on us showing up, so we can do what we’ve seen educators across the nation do for their students. 

See you in Salem.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen 
PAT President