We Won't Stand for More Cuts!

Yes, it just got worse.

Did you think education funding was at a breaking point before this legislative session? Were you ready to do everything possible to fight for full funding of our schools?

Unfortunately, the crisis just got worse, and we need to do more. Much more.

For years, we’ve been fighting for the state to fulfill its promise, and fund the Quality Education Model (QEM) developed over two decades ago.

The QEM outlines what basic services for schools should be. For example, the recommendations include: Elementary school class sizes of 20 students; Maximum class sizes of 29 for middle and high school classes; One counselor for every 250 students; Resources for reimbursing teachers for out-of-pocket expenses; Additional time for struggling students; Adequate funding for building maintenance; and volunteer coordinators, community outreach coordinators, and school-to-work coordinators.

To fund the basic services outlined in the QEM, the state needs to allocate $10.7 billion over the next biennium. This means at least $2 billion in additional funding, which means $2 billion in added revenue.

The governor proposed a budget of $8.97 billion. It was touted as a budget designed to maintain current service levels, but that is not exactly true. Under the governor’s budget, we’d have a $17 million shortfall in PPS. PPS was planning to manage this shortfall by tapping $7 million from reserves, increasing class sizes, creating blended classrooms, and making other cuts.

Unfortunately, the governor didn’t include a revenue plan in her budget proposal, and now the Ways and Means committee has put forward an $8.87 billion budget, which leaves PPS short another 5 million dollars.

We are cut to the bone. Absorbing this additional shortfall will be impossible. We can’t keep doing more with less. We could lose an additional 70 teachers. Or, this could mean as many as 4 furlough days, achieved by cutting the school calendar.  While this solution means our class sizes/caseloads won’t get worse, it does mean loss of pay.

None of this is okay. We must stand up and fight harder than ever. This may mean we need to take bold action and do things we’ve never done before.

We need to make sure our elected officials understand how serious we are, and just how deep our commitment to our students runs. No politician in Salem deserves their seat if they aren’t ready to take bold action and stand up to corporations on behalf of our students.

Our parent union, the Oregon Education Association, has called for a statewide walk out on May 8th. We don’t want to lose a day of teaching with our students, but we can’t tolerate another round of budget cuts.

In the meantime, we have a series of actions planned to show the legislature we’re serious, and push them to do the right thing before it’s too late.

But the bottom line is this—if there isn’t revenue by May 8th, we will be ready to take action!In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen 
PAT President