Ask Susan Castillo

Next Sunday, July 17, the WB32 show Outlook Portland will have State Superintendent Susan Castillo on as a guest. The host, Nick Fish, would like to hear from BlueOregonians:

What questions do you have for Susan Castillo? What do you think about the direction of Oregon's schools? What's going right? What's going wrong? How can we develop a statewide consensus about the right level of funding - and funding sources - for education?

The show is taping on July 11, so get your thoughts in.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ask Susan Castillo - Why are Oregon K-12 employees individually compensated higher than almost all other states? Do you advocate the steps necessary to change this situation? At this time K-12 is hemorrhaging because of very poor allocation of funding. We have the 8th highest individually compensated K-12 workforce (Chalkboard Project 2005) at the expense of shortened school years, laid-off teachers, 4th highest student/teacher ratio, curtailed programs, poor graduation rates and the next-to-the-last attendance record in the U.S. If Oregon teachers were compensated in line with Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Montana, North and South Dakota and others, we would have an additional $300 to 900 million per year. The result would be 5,000 - 8,000 additional teachers, complete programs, full school years and smaller classes. An additional by-product would most likely be higher graduation and attendance rates. These states compare very favorably with Oregon academically.

    Oregon is ranked 36th in affluence ("per capita income")(http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/ARTICLES/2005/04April/SPI.pdf , pg 78).

  • Rorovitz (unverified)
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    Wow, the majority of states listed in that last post are so much cheaper to live in that Oregon. A house in N. Dakota would cost about half as much.

    But the question I want Castillo to answer is, if Ted doesn't run for a second term (which more people are saying could happen) will Susan run for Gov?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Rorovitz, The latest comprehensive study, "Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends", from AFT (American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO) is interesting and to your point. "State Rankings Average Teacher Salaries Adjusted by the AFT Interstate Cost-of-Living Index", there are only nine states ranked higher for teacher salaries than Oregon when accounting for cost-of-living. This becomes even more dramatic when Oregon's #1 benefit package is also figured. (Table I-7,page 13)

    There is no other state in the U.S. which has a wider deviation between "Average Teacher Salaries" and "per capita income" than Oregon. Again, when benefits are also added, the deviation is very significant.

    From the Chalkboard Project, "Salaries and benefits measured per full-time staff member are high relative to other states". Quantified, it is the limiting factor from hiring 3,000 to 10,000 additional teachers when compared with most other states. It is $300 to $800 million above most other states. Oregon, being the 36th ranked state in affluence cannot compensate at this rate without considerably sacrificing from other state services and the children/students of Oregon.

    What is misinterpreted is the aggregate amount spent for teachers in Oregon. This amount (when ranked) is now about equal to our ranking in affluence. Unfortunately, this amount is spread among a relatively few teachers which are individually compensated very highly.

  • Good Ole' Shoe (unverified)
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    My questions are, in no particular order, as follows:

    1. Have you actually figured out what the Department of Ed does?
    2. Are you capable of original thoughts?
    3. Is Steve Novick still doing the thinking and talking for you, or is it now up to Ed Dennis?
    4. Have you considered having an earpiece surgically implanted so that Novick or Dennis can channel their thoughts through you?
  • Nick Fish (unverified)
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    Thanks BlueOregonians for the questions.

    Keep them coming. Cut-off is Monday morning.

    I will read as many as I can on the air.

    Nick Fish

  • LT (unverified)
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    2 questions: Isn't it more important than to talk about this year's school budget than one for a future time when we might have a new Speaker and a new Governor?

    Isn't it time to talk about HOW the money is spent than a specific number for schools?

    No one wants to talk about an old high school having a leaky roof and what that does to the local school budget or what happens if an autistic child moves into a small rural district.

    The people who say "We have decided on a number for schools" should be obligated to go to PTA meetings and say "This is what our number means to your district". Otherwise, "We have decided on a number for schools" sounds like a political football rather than a serious discussion of public education.

  • steve s (unverified)
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    In follow up to the question on Steve Novick,

    1) Why does the ODE continue the charade that the Oregon Business Council (and Duncan Wyse) is some independent business interest when they are nothing but a political arm of the department?

    And

    2) Why does the ODE defend the indefensible CIM? How is it that the 2004 graduate CIM numbers GREW to the paltry 1% increase over the previous year during the 10 months it took the department to "process" them?

    Do you understand my question?

    Allow me to spell it out for you.

    I am charging that the ODE, with cooperation from various districts, cooked (they call it processing)the CIM numbers during the 10 months of processing in order to show a slight increase. That a significant decrease was discovered at the end of the 2004 school year and the ODE went to work to cover it up.

    3) How is the forced and unfunded cultural competency programs for for administrators and teachers expected to reduce the achievement gap or make better use of classroom time?

  • Cindy M (unverified)
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    Educating students has always been a matter of taking the child in September and doing all that can be done for that child until June. Students come to school with different levels of ability and hindrences that have to do with the life they are living at home. Conservatives in power are doing all they can to weaken the public schools for an eventual full privatization of education. How can it be communicated to the public that schools are doing a better job than ever and that this part of ours "commoms" is what keeps the opportunity there for those who come out of poverty and a disadvantaged background?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Cindy M, Can you give examples for your statements? You say, "How can it be communicated to the public that schools are doing a better job than ever." It is my understanding that in grade 4, the U.S. students are approximately on par with the rest of the industrialized world. By grade 10, we (the U.S. students) have fallen considerably behind. By grade 12 it is worse yet. The longer the students are in school, the further behind when compared to many other countries. This is interesting because our education is very expensive when compared with these same countries. The amount of money spent does not always directly correlate to increased or better education. Most studies that I have read, do not give high marks for U.S. public education. I would be interested if you have data to support your contention. Public education is important.

    Also you say, "Conservatives in power are doing all they can to weaken the public schools for an eventual full privatization of education." Could you give examples of this statement? That is surprising if true, perhaps it isn't true.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Cindy M, By what measure are our U.S. schools "doing better than ever"?

    "Certainly, American students' low performance on math and science measures are well-known. On the 1999 administration of the Third International Math and Science Survey, our 8th graders scored below their peers in almost every industrialized nation, with students in Japan and Korea ranking near the top. In math, average Americans scored below the 25th percentiles of Japanese and Korean students."

  • Cindy M (unverified)
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    Scores have improved in recent years on the state tests. And it's my understanding that other countries funnel students to job oriented training rather than school all students as we do in basic knowledge through the 12th grade.
    No Child Left Behind is an unfunded mandate. If that's not an attempt to weaken public schools then what is? And why is it that tax breaks always get support before education? Additionally, why is it the schools are expected to get all students to benchmark without regard for the home environment or ability of the student? I don't think I could study if I had suffered a beating the night before and I doubt I'd be very successful on a grade level test if my I.Q. is in the very low range. And if my mother did drugs or consumed alcohol while pregnant with me I likely would have memory problems no matter the capability of my classroom teacher.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Cindy M, If I'm not mistaken, almost all of the people whom you are referring, attended public school. It is hard to be derogatory about them without involving their education. My point is that we (and the children) are paying the price in Oregon totally from the very high individual K-12 employee compensation in Oregon.

  • steve s (unverified)
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    Cindy said ---"Scores have improved in recent years on the state tests."--- Oregon's assessmnents are possibly the most unreliable in the country. Especailly when it comes to determining trends.

    As was the 2004 CIM numbers there is too much processing by folks interesting in seeing results which don't exist. The yearly adjustments of tests, scoring guides and means to "meet" standards have rendered our State Assessment system worse than useless. Devouring resources, failing to provided accurate data and enabling ever increasing manipulation. The unfunded mandate Oregon School Reform for the 21st Century is far more responsible for "weakening our school system" than NCLB. Our reform is of the same "standards based reforms"(outcome based education)as NCLB. Oregon's benchmarks and NCLB' annual yeary progress are both hopelessly flawed.

    The OEA has done nothing but what the Sunday Oregonian/teacher benefits front page laid out.

    CIM/CAM could have been killed years ago. The teachers union cold have done it. Instead they traded away the right thing to do for more compensation. That's what the union is for. Teacher compensation.

    This state is corrupted with conflict of interest and dysfunctional politics.

  • Cindy M (unverified)
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    O.K. I'm here to learn. And I'm open minded. Why do we assume that the OEA is corrupt because it works to support those who educate? The people who go into education go there mainly to do the work with kids. If they were all corrupt and full of self interest why would they be choosing this line of work? There's more money with a 4 year degree in other fields that are respected--all manner of careers in the medical field come to mind. And with regard to that front page article in the July 10th Oregonian....it's not news. The PERS issues have been litigated ....so it's just not worthy of a front page feature. But wait. Maybe it is worthy if the public can be stirred up right now. House Speaker Minnis could use some public anger deflected from her right now. She doesn't want to adequately fund K-12. Now there's some corruption. What about the kids???

  • Cindy M (unverified)
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    And by the way. There are many things that influence kids and learning. Our culture doesn't actually send much of a message of respect for education. And learning is real work. How can we expect kids to do their best when the culture doesn't send the right messages?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Cindy M, 1)You say, "Our culture doesn't actually send much of a message of respect for education."

    Respect is earned, not sent. There is a problem you should recognize.

    2)Are you assuming OEA is "corrupt"? I haven't used that word and won't.

    3) You say, "The people who go into education go there mainly to do the work with kids."

    Then why is there the constant threat to shut down our education system unless there is a continuation of the highest, most expensive benefits package in the U.S.? Or anything less than the 13th highest salaries in the U.S.?

    4) You say, "The PERS issues have been litigated ....so it's just not worthy of a front page feature. But wait. Maybe it is worthy if the public can be stirred up right now."

    Are you suggesting that the funding of Oregon K-12 stay the same? Do you even acknowledge that there is a problem? Oregon is struggling with full school years, laid-off teachers, curtailed programs, poor graduation rates, so-so academic results, next-to-worst attendance rates and large class sizes just so we can have among the highest paid K-12 employees in the U.S. If Oregon education is "all about the children", why is our education revenue going to a relatively small workforce instead of a much larger group of teachers? We could easily hire 5,000 more teachers if the K-12 compensation were in line with other states.

    Help me out, what part of this isn't clear? This is presented by perhaps the leading education economist in Oregon and Washington at ECONorthwest.

  • steve s (unverified)
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    Yeah it's all about messages. What message did you get from the Sunday O front page story. Did you even read it? I got the clear message that the OEA (teachers union) has ripped off and continues to rip off our public school system, our children and the taxpayers. They have crippled out ability to fund education by creating a structure which demands greater increases in revenue at a rate faster than the economy or taxpayers can keep up with.

    Since 1973 I believe when the teachers union came about.

    No it's not news as people not hood winked by the unions have been screaming about it for years.

    Just as the Portland Police and Fire Pension and Disability fund do, the teachers union and PERS are sticking the public with paying for NOT adequate or reasonal benefits which most would support. But unfunded mandates of lavish and excessive benefits which are neither reasonable or affordable.

    The profession of teaching is not under attack. Their compensation is under scrutiny because it is not sustainable or affordable. It grew out of a corrupted system of conflicts of interests and collective bargaining dysfunction.

    Saying there is no probelm is simply dishonest.

  • ron ledbury (unverified)
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    The direct public cost to cover "employer contributions" do not go to teachers (and other public employees). They go to cover investment risks and knowingly unsound pension plan design that are directly related to the desire of a class of folks who wish to obtain investment capital at below market rate and with a reduced level of oversight by the investors (you and I and the PERS beneficiaries alike, via the Oregon Investment Council).

    When Ted, and the Oregonian, and Kris Kain, start nailing the pension lawyers (MacPherson included) and pension actuaries and bond counsel and bond rating outfits then I will know he/they means business. We have no business letting the blob of interests known simply as Wall Street sap the collective wealth of the public employees and the public taxpayer's alike.

    It is not the teachers, nor unionization. The Oregonian editors know better than to pick on the teachers, who are at worst following the rules as they are designed, rather than going after the folks who made the rules, and I am not talking about the citizen legislators but the folks whispering sweet nothings into their ears under the guise of professionalism.

    I want the Oregonian to choke on their September 2003 support of Measure 29. If the pension system must be designed to be sound to be lawful then shouldn't the team of folks that have benefited from the investments bear the loss, not the public and not the schools? Pointing to the teachers is a wholly incomplete explanation, it can be useful but not sufficient, and is offered by the propaganda machines for a distraction from the real causes of the spending problems. If the investment recipients have scampered away with gains shouldn't we demand that any dollars that are borrowed to go into the Public Employees Retirement Fund come bundled with a performance bond to assure that the meager couple percent benefit that the public is supposed to gain should come packaged with a performance bond that is paid-for out of the investment gains and that leaves the public harmless. We are being played for saps by the investment recipients and the local community of professional advisers and then being told to blame the teachers. What a crock! Make the Oregonian take their meat-free bone of so-called investigatory vigor and swallow it sideways.

    I do not expect Susan to have the slightest clue about what I just said, but Mr. MacPherson could hardly claim ignorance.

  • Nick Fish (unverified)
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    Thanks for all the great questions.

    I asked Susan Castillo about the following: running for governor, the CIM, salaries and benefits of teachers, the gov's funding plan, junk food in the schools, ESD's, health insurance pools, secrets of high achieving schools, and the Quality Education Model.

    We needed another half hour to do justice to these topics.

    Nick Fish

  • Nick Fish (unverified)
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    Forgot to mention that Susan Castillo will appear on Outlook Portland, Sunday, July 17, from 6:30-7:00am, on Portland's WB (KWBP).

    Nick Fish

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