President's Message: It's Time to Fully Fund Fund Education in Oregon

Last Thursday, the Joint Committee on Student Success visited Portland. We had many PAT members, as well as other OEA members from other districts, testify in front of this bipartisan group of legislators, sharing what we need as educators in order to achieve student success.

There was also a small group listening session prior to the public hearing with superintendents and school board members from across the metro area, including our Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and PPS School Board Chair Rita Moore. Our PAT delegation included myself, PAT Vice President Elizabeth Thiel, our Legislative Chair Madeleine Allen (Marysville), and bargaining team member Emy Markewitz (Vernon).

Funding was the common theme for both educators and administrators. Everyone spoke to the needs of our schools, which can only begin to be addressed if we start funding according to the state’s Quality Education Model. Developed more than 20 years ago, the Oregon Quality Education Model estimates the level of funding required to operate a system of highly-effective schools across the state.

Unfortunately, we have fallen short of the Q.E.M. funding requirements every year since. Last year, for example, Oregon dedicated only three-quarters of the funding required to meet Q.E.M. It was also great to see how much agreement there was at the hearing—not only that our schools need more money, but that corporations are the ones that can pay. Committee members said they plan on putting together a revenue package that would meet the Q.E.M. requirements.

This is great news, but any new revenue proposals will likely come before voters, so we will need to make sure our voices are heard.

I was struck by one of the comments from the audience, expressing concern that Oregon will struggle to recruit and retain educators vis-à-vis Washington.

As you know, Washington educators have waged a multi-year #RED4ED campaign to increase education funding, capped off by a series of strikes at the start of this school year. In many districts, educators won massive, double-digit raises.

I’m also worried that for pay AND workload reasons educators will leave Oregon to work in Washington, and we’ll have trouble recruiting new educators to teach in our state.

In the coming weeks we will be looking more closely at what educators have won in various Washington districts, not because we want you to go to Washington, but because Oregon students also deserve fully-funded schools.

An example from Evergreen’s class size language shows what a difference funding can make:

Grade Level

Class Size
(higher enrollment means overload pay)

Maximum Class Size










Split Classes (Blends)



Middle School

6th: 28; 7th-8th: 30 Elective 29; PE 31

6th: 30; 7th-8th: 32; Electives 32; PE 33

High School

30 (PE 34)

33, Daily Load150; (PE 35, Daily Load 170)


We’ve lived with chronic funding shortfalls for so long that we sometimes think there’s a necessary trade-off between a manageable workload or fair compensation. Those are false choices. Properly compensating educators helps ensure that we get the best professionals in front of our students; manageable class sizes and caseloads helps ensure that our students get the one-one-one attention they deserve.

This is a tough year for many of us, as we struggle to meet all the workload demands from PPS.  However, I am hopeful that this can be a breakthrough year for revenue reform, with changes that lead to fully-funded schools.

This won’t happen without an incredible, collective effort from all public school supporters. But we know it’s possible—just look at what they’ve done right next door in Washington.

I know when we use our “Teacher Voice” we will be heard!

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen 
PAT President