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Three OSBA efforts aligning as 2017 session approaches

   

 

Betsy Miller-Jones
Executive Director

As we look toward the 2017 legislative session, three separate OSBA-led initiatives are creating momentum toward resolving the decades-old issue of adequately funding Oregon’s public schools.

Ever since Measure 5’s passage in 1990, the school funding picture in this state has been a shambles. But this week, and in the months ahead, you are going to hear a lot about the vision that Oregonians have for their schools, and a potential path for all of us to achieve that vision.

The three initiatives that are coming together are “The Promise of Oregon” campaign, a public awareness campaign that is now in its third year; “Oregon Rising,” a joint campaign between OSBA, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and the Oregon Education Association; and the broad issue of revenue reform, which is being addressed by an OSBA Revenue Reform Advisory Workgroup (its draft report can be seen on the OSBA website).

At the same time these issues are aligning, all of you will no doubt have heard about Measure 97, the corporate tax measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that is likely to become the most expensive ballot measure in this state’s history. Whether that measure passes or not (our OSBA Board has voted to remain neutral on the measure), we believe that this state needs a comprehensive plan for revenue reform. And so, through our Fall Regionals and other means (see an in-depth article in this issue of School Leader News), OSBA is going to continue to advocate toward that end.

Later this week you are going to be hearing a lot about Oregon Rising, and in particular the results of an unprecedented survey that relied on input from more than 10,000 Oregonians. Through that survey, we asked Oregonians to share their vision for schools, without regards to the costs.

This is what they told us: They want a well-rounded education for their children. They want more electives. They want demanding offerings in the arts, and math, science, tech and engineering. They want vocational education. They want students to learn new languages. And they want smaller class sizes and more personal attention to students.

As it turns out, those survey results show a clear alignment between what the public wants for our schools and the needs identified by the nonpartisan Quality Education Commission. Through the commission’s work, we also know in a broad sense what the funding gap is to achieve that vision — about $2 billion.

We expect that this Oregon Rising report will continue to rally momentum around fully funding our schools, and we will also continue to use the Promise campaign to both celebrate our students and demonstrate the need to invest in their education. OSBA’s revenue reform report and advocacy efforts in 2017 will directly address fair, sustainable methods to pay for the schools our children need, and deserve.

OSBA is counting on the support of you, our members, as we move these initiatives forward into 2017 and communicate these important messages to our state legislators and other government leaders.

Betsy Miller-Jones, Executive Director