Good News for Oregon

Cody Hoesly

There has been a lot of talk in Oregon lately about a 2006 initiative to kill good government by haphazardly blocking all investment in our state's future.  Colorado already has a such a straitjacket, and the self-interest types over there have destroyed that state's schools, as well as pretty much everything else.

But there's good news.  Today, even crazy Colorado realized that you need to invest in your state if you are going to provide every citizen with the opportunity to fulfill the American Dream.  Today, Coloradans suspended their straitjacket for five years by a 52% majority.

The campaign split Republicans, prompted the usual anti-family venom from Grover Norquist, and, ultimately, brought out the best in a people long defrauded by anti-government zealots.  Today, Coloradans can release a collective sigh of relief:  their long, statewide nightmare is over (at least for now).  Today, Oregonians can take hope that we, too, will vote with such clear heads and courageous hearts:  Come 2006, we will keep Oregon Oregon.

After all, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Comments

  • Rob (unverified)
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    In regards to Good News for Oregonians. I suspect your speaking of Colorados' voters decision to allow their government to keep their tax refund. That's fine, it's their decision. I do not agree it's correct. I remind everyone that the money the state and federal government collects from it's citizens does not belong to the government. It belongs to those who worked for it. I suscribe to the notion that the government should budget like everyone else and live within their means. If our government would stop frivolously spending our tax dollars and stick to a real budget they would have plenty of money. No, I disagree. I say return my money to me. I can spend it more wisley than the government.

  • engineer (unverified)
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    Rob, who is "government"? Agencies only spend what the people's elected representatives (ie the legislature) allow them to spend. The legislature passes laws and enact programs that cost $$, they are responding to the citizens demands for services. The legislature and the people who elect them are ultimately responsible for"government" spending. Instead of blaming the "government", why dont you focus on the people who want services but dont want to pay for them? That's the ultimate cause of the problem and therefore the solution.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Democrats who concentrate on funding services [an important matter, I realize] sow the seeds of their defeat when they allow the less well off to contribute a greater share of revenue. Democrats were successful in the 1930's through 1970's because the rich and big business paid a reasonable share of taxes. As tax load was shifted to workers, workers began to vote against tax levies and candidates who support well-funded services.

    If Dems are to win, they must make progressive taxation their prime issue. Wins there will lead to wins on many levels.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    Rob wrote: our government would stop frivolously spending our tax dollars and return my money to me. I can spend it more wisley than the government.

    Rob, can you cite some specific examples of significant "frivolous" spending? Health care? Schools? Prisons?

    How can individuals, no matter how "wise," provide the common public infrastructure that we all need and that our government provides? Are you planning to build your own roads, schools, parks, criminal justice system, etc.? Or do you want to just take your little bag of tax money and live in a hole in the ground?

    Of course our tax money belongs to us -- that's the whole point. We are the government, and government is OUR tool for spending it to provide that common infrastructure. It's completely illogical (and highly destructive) for citizens to claim government does nothing good and has provides no benefit while enjoying all the benefits our government provides (again: roads, police, fire, safe water, safe food, clean air, schools, the military, student loans, Social Security, and on and on...)

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ruth, You say, "cite some specific examples of significant "frivolous" spending? Health care? Schools? Prisons? "

    Perhaps the most costly of "frivolous" spending is from the largest segment of the Oregon budget. Individual compensation for Oregon K-12 employees. There are only 7 states in the U.S. which compensate higher(Chalkboard Project, 2005). This in itself is considered to be at least $800 million per year above the 25th ranking state. Yet, the 25th ranking state (and there are many similar examples) have superior academic results when compared to Oregon. Oregon public employees have the highest ranking benefits package in the U.S. (for public employees). The very real problem is that Oregon is ranked 36th in affluence (as usually measured by "per capita income"). This low level of affluence has a very limiting influence, on what Oregon can provide in the way of public service.

    In Oregon, special interests "are the government", unfortunately.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    Well, Bailie, I disagree that "special interests" = public employees. People are not in public service to get rich. If they get better benefits (albeit generally lower pay) than private-sector workers, to me that underscores the dire need for universal health care so that businesses and workers are not crippled by the HMOs/drug companies (now THAT's a special interest).

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ruth, You say, "I disagree that "special interests" = public employees."

    That is not what I meant. I support public employees. I have two within my immediate family.

    My point is that the compensation structure is self limiting for the public sector. Simply, Oregon cannot afford among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees and have enough (employees) to fulfill the necessary requirements we expect. We do not have the economic base to have it both ways. The immediate and future problems are evident. We have the 4th highest student/teacher ratio, we are curtailing programs and in some cases shortening school years and laying off teachers.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Here we go again. Trust Bailie's statistics and all will be well with public schools. But question Bailie's statistics and they will be posted over and over and over.

    Bailie should leave the blogosphere, and run for office on the platform that the quoted statistics are the only ones we should believe, and if elected Bailie would work to implement the proposal so often used in the comment section here.

    But I don't see what is accomplished by posting comments like this in every Blue Oregon topic where it might possibly apply. Simply, Oregon cannot afford among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees and have enough (employees) to fulfill the necessary requirements we expect. We do not have the economic base to have it both ways. The immediate and future problems are evident. We have the 4th highest student/teacher ratio, we are curtailing programs and in some cases shortening school years and laying off teachers. Enough, Already! You have made your point. What actions will you use to carry out your point, or is posting on blogs the entire strategy?

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)
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    Ah...it appears I stepped into something here...

    Getting back to the original thesis, Coloradans' rejection of TABOR, even if temporary, does seem to deliver a useful blow to that scheme. I don't care so much whether people want "big" or "small" government, but I do care about avoiding rigid formulas to govern this kind of thing. Hell, I don't even like balanced budget amendments. You don't like how your government spends, or how much it spends? Vote 'em out and tell the exit-pollsters exactly what you're voting against.

    The formulas - and TABOR was the worst, most-misguided I'd seen - denies the budgets flexibility. Worse, they amount to little more than an escape clause for people who don't want to take the time and effort to think about what they want government to do and for whom.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, You say, Trust Bailie's statistics and all will be well with public schools. But question Bailie's statistics and they will be posted over and over and over."

    They aren't "my" statistics. I am open to anything you might have to assess the problem differently. Do you have any specific suggestions concerning K-12 funding? I am surprised that the main focus is about me, rather than the funding situation. Is this only to be discussed while the legislature is in session?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bailile, Here is my suggestion--leave the blogosphere and start talking to people who can actually do something about school funding. Talk to chairs (current/ former) of Ways and Means and see how they react to your statement "Simply, Oregon cannot afford among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees and have enough (employees) to fulfill the necessary requirements we expect. We do not have the economic base to have it both ways. " Talk to current candidates for Gov. and legislature.

    Who agrees with you that Oregon has "among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees"--I mean an actual Oregonian, not just some website somewhere. Does "individually compensated" mean the first year teacher in a town like Baker or Coos Bay makes as much as an administrator in Beaverton, or is this about averages? Seems to me you expressed thoughts on that in another Blue Oregon topic some time ago. What do you hope to accomplish by saying the same thing on a variety of different topics?

    Go to this event or watch for press coverage of it, but don't imagine "we can't afford..." is going to be greeted as the last word, or that blogging really solves problems.

    WESTLUND AT CHILDREN FIRST LUNCHEON

    Bridging the Rural/Urban Divide for Oregon’s Children

    WHAT: Children First for Oregon Policy Luncheon featuring State Senator Ben Westlund

    State senator from Central Oregon to speak about the need to unite, as a state, to make sure all of Oregon’s children grow up healthy and safe.

    WHEN: Thursday, November 10, 2005

                        Doors open at 11:30.  Lunch at 12:00.
    
                        Senator Westlund to speak at approximately 12:30.
    

    WHERE: The Governor Hotel, 614 SW 11th, Portland

    HOW: The cost of the luncheon is $50. Media passes are available without lunch.

                        To R.S.V.P., contact Crystal Socha, 503-236-9754 or [email protected]
    
  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, You say, " " Talk to current candidates for Gov. and legislature." "Talk to chairs (current/ former) of Ways and Means"

    I have and have received nothing but agreement when these people take time to listen.

    You suggest that, blogging really (doesn't) solve problems.

    I was expecting some ideas from this blog, but you are correct -- nothing.

    Yes, I'll give it a rest.

  • LT (unverified)
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    It was a good day for Oregon when Colorado passed Ref.C, and a bad day for the anti-taxers. Less noticed was the Denver measure about paying teachers for performance (and from what little I have heard, also giving them incentives for teaching in difficult schools).

    But if teachers are given pay for performance, and incentives to teach in difficult schools, how will that affect state by state rankings, and statements like "the State of Oregon has chosen a very highly compensated K-12 workforce, above a well compensated (in the top half of states) workforce."?

    In time, how will the salaries of Denver teachers affect those state rankings? What about factors like cost of living--a rural teacher and a Beaverton teacher would seem to have different economic situations. Rent might be cheaper in a rural area, but one would have to drive everywhere, perhaps long distances to work, stores, etc. Rent is likely to be higher in Beaverton, but public transportation might make the cost of a gallon of gas less important there.

    We could use an intelligent discussion of such factors which gets away from generalities like "the public schools" as if any school in rural Lane County is the same as any school in Eugene, any school in Deschutes County is like any school in Umatilla County, any school in Astoria is like any school in Portland, etc.

    And if you Google the subject it becomes obvious there is more discussion out there than just the NEA, Chackboard/EcoNorthwest, etc.

    It is time to get beyond "believe the rankings, don't ask any questions about them" and get to intelligent discussion of what factors go into such rankings, and if they tell the whole story.

    Here's an idea: Go to http://www.sreb.org/scripts/Focus/Reports/TeacherSalaryDontShow.pdf

    and read about variables.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, I appreciate your interest in Oregon K-12 education funding. I am only looking for solutions, not perpetuating an agenda. I also think the solution comes from outside of politics. It is the politics of education funding, which have produced the problems we are now experiencing. Special interests guide politics in Oregon and unfortunately, special interests do not parallel "what is best for the children".

    Of course, variables are important in evaluating education statistics and rankings. But when the variables are taken into consideration, the data becomes more valid. The references cited by the SREB information (you mention above) are ones that I use in addition to many others. There are variables in most data, but that doesn't make the data invalid. There are variables from student to student in every classroom, but that doesn't make comparisons in academic achievement invalid.

    The cumulative effect of all available data which I have found in the last three years, all points to the same conclusions (which I have mentioned). If there is any data which conflicts with these conclusions, I would appreciate the information.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Not everyone has the time to do the research you did.

    The cumulative effect of all available data which I have found in the last three years, all points to the same conclusions (which I have mentioned).

    But if you could point to specific legislation you support, or other specific actions (are you, for instance, proposing that your numbers should be used in contract negotiations, are you proposing statewide salary schedules, etc.) that would be more persuasive than "I have come to these conclusions, so other people should accept them" which is the way your posts sound.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT (or anyone),

    You say, "But if you could point to specific legislation you support, or other specific actions..."

    That is an interesting question. When I talk one to one with our Senators and Representatives, it is discouraging, if a person is interested in Oregon's students. Below is a follow up email from a state Senator (R) from the Subcommittee on Education, it is typical of many responses.

    Thank you for our conversation. You are right on target. The solution is simple, but the process is impossible. We have those collective bargaining agreements that are renewed and as you note, the school districts seldom win. One suggestion is to have a state-wide salary schedule. That has been introduced several session, but is either vetoed or threatened to be vetoed by the Governor, or doesn't have the support of the committee hearing the bill. Thank you for your concern and I will work to find a solution to the problem as you have described.

    From the Democrat side, it is also interesting in private conversations. This is a typical response in a follow up email.

    Thank you for meeting with me. I appreciate your taking the time and bringing this information to my attention. You raise a number of compelling points. I will look further into the numbers you presented.

    What is interesting and discouraging is that in private conversation, it is not a secret where the base of support is for these people. They acknowledge their power base, and there is no way they will cross the line. And they know exactly where the line is located. That line is drawn well short of, "what is in the best interest of the students".

    What is also interesting, is the lack of knowledge of everyone, Republican or Democrat, concerning the allocation of K-12 funding. This includes people from within the education establishment.

    If the people of Oregon are sincere about properly funding K-12 education, there must be the highest priority of doing what is best for the students/children. Oregon does not have the economic base to support the funding allocations demanded by the special interests and serve the best interests of the students. Very few states have been able to pull that off, but Oregon is a long ways away. This is illustrated by the data that Oregon has the widest divergence of all states between "per capita income" and "average public K-12 teacher salaries".

    So to summarize, a political solution follows a consensus of opinions by everyone involved. That is why I am most interested in ideas from people on this forum. Are we in Oregon satisfied with the sinking status quo in Oregon education? We don't have a funding problem, we do have an allocation of funding problem. Oregon funds education considerably better than many states, we don't allocate funding well.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie sanctimoniously offers:

    "I am only looking for solutions, not perpetuating an agenda."

    Hogwash! You ARE pursuing an agenda - a reduction in average teacher compensation in Oregon. To say anything less is disengenous. Admit it and move on.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47, You have identified a necessary part of the solution that needs to take place over the next 15 years. To continue the direction Oregon is traveling in K-12 funding is not sustainable. If you say my agenda is the solution to K-12 funding problems, you are correct (and I admit it). Do you have any suggestions, or just critical remarks?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie intones:

    "You have identified a necessary part of the solution that needs to take place over the next 15 years. To continue the direction Oregon is traveling in K-12 funding is not sustainable. If you say my agenda is the solution to K-12 funding problems, you are correct (and I admit it). Do you have any suggestions, or just critical remarks?"

    You're parsing again bailie. I DID NOT say that your "...agenda is the solution to the K-12 funding problem". What I said is that your agenda is the reduction of average K-12 teacher compensation. Admit THAT and move on. We already know your statistics - probably by heart. Repeating them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again ad nauseum doesn't make them stronger or better or more compelling. They're still the same statistics and you're still making the point for lowering teacher compensation, period, end of story.

  • JJ (unverified)
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    Hey, haven't I seen Bailie's arguments somewhere else??

    I want to point out to Tom Civiletti that the electorate voted in 2004 for a candidate and an administration that pushed through a heavily regressive tax schemes, ie., decreased capital gains rates, the percentage of the top tax bracket, etc. All these cuts were a boon for people in the higher tax brackets. The people in the poorer states (generally red states) voted for heavily for Bush. Blue states, which are generally more urban and affluent, voted for Kerry. Less affluent people voted against their own economic interest. I don't think your proposal for "progressive taxation" would do anything to help. It would probably drive people in blue states to vote against Democratic candidates instead.

  • LT (unverified)
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    JJ---2 things.

    First of all, lots of states were purple--Colorado being the best example. Bush carried the state but that was about the only good news for the GOP that night, from the Salazar brothers winning (Sen. Salazar replaced a Republican US Senator) to the Democrats taking over the legislature.

    I don't think issues sank Kerry (who did get more total votes than Reagan did in the "Reagan landslide") so much as candidate/campaign problems (not hearing a question shouted to him outdoors, responding to what he thought he heard, and then that answer on TV for the next couple news cycles; failure to more quickly respond to the Swifties; not having the warmth and common touch of Edwards; quality of campaign management; etc).

    And the other thing. No your eyes are not playing tricks on you. You have seen those arguments before--I looked. Here are some of the other places they showed up, complete with the URLs and in one case a response.

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2005/10/reconciling_our.html#c10390965 Posted by: Bailie | Oct 17, 2005 8:57:16 AM

    What do you suggest for school funding? I believe there is adequate funding in Oregon K-12. We (Oregon) individually compensate our K-12 employees about $400 million per year more than Washington and about $500 million more than the 25th ranking state in individual teacher compensation. This is equivalent to hiring and financing 5,000 additional teachers, having complete school years and programs.

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2005/10/some_cliches_ar.html#c10420412 Posted by: Bailie | Oct 18, 2005 9:18:43 AM

    For whatever reasons, the State of Oregon has chosen a very highly compensated K-12 workforce, above a well compensated (in the top half of states) workforce. There are only 12 states which have higher K-12 "teacher salaries" than Oregon (NEA, 2005)(and every other piece of data I have found). In addition, Oregon has the #1 rated benefits package in the U.S. (Chalkboard, 2005), much of which is indexed to the high salaries. With salaries and benefits combined, Oregon K-12 employees are the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.(Chalkboard Project 2005,ECONorthwest 2005)) This would not be considered as much of a problem if Oregon were an affluent state. The adverse effect is created from Oregon's 36th place ranking in "Per Capita Income" (http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/ARTICLES/2005/04April/SPI.pdf , pg 78).

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2005/10/im_using_my_pre.html

    Posted by: Bailie | Oct 20, 2005 7:41:02 PM Oregon has historically funded education very well. In "per student expenditures", Oregon has been above the national averages almost every year since 1990, only dropping below during this latest recession. Do you support the high level of individual compensation for Oregon K-12 employees? If so, why?

    To which the next comment responded:

    As for "the high level of individual compensation for Oregon K-12 employees" this argument is misleading. Some teachers are overpaid and some underpaid for what they do. From what I have seen and been told by former teachers that I know and respect we need remedial training for some present teachers and at least heartfelt expressions of gratitude for others who certainly are not overpaid. Lumping all teachers into good, bad, or overpaid is a sign of sloppy thinking.

  • LT (unverified)
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    mrfearless, you did a great job of smoking out the true intention-reducing average teacher compensation.

    mrfearless47, You have identified a necessary part of the solution that needs to take place over the next 15 years.

    Had Bailie said that way back several comments ago (instead of "believe these statistics or I will keep repeating them until you do!") that would have been more honest.

    Instead of the repetitious "We (Oregon) individually compensate our K-12 employees about $400 million per year more than Washington and about $500 million more than the 25th ranking state in individual teacher compensation.", had Bailie said what you got Bailie to say about reducing average teacher compensation we could have had a more honest conversation earlier.

    Does the mysterious Mr. B mean all certified personnel, or only those in the classroom? What is the average administrator salary in Oregon? Or doesn't that matter because this is really union busting?

    I wonder how the "average teacher compensation" in this state compares to the median income, and to the cost of living, in Beaverton, Baker, Coos Bay, Corvallis, Albany, Astoria.

    Of course, that gets to individual salaries, and some people don't like specifics.

    I wonder what Bailie does for a living, and whether Bailie's compensation for that job is above average for those in that occupation, average, below average.

    Or is Bailie a statistics student trying to start an argument? Or maybe part of a lobbying group which doesn't want to come out and publicly say "The only way to fully fund classroom education and get class size down is to lower the compensation of classroom teachers so more money can go to hiring more teachers. "

    Why wouldn't teachers look at that and decide not to teach in Oregon, esp. if they could get a better teaching job in another state. And most in demand are math and science teachers. Could they make more money in teaching or in some other line of work (engineering, high tech, banking, whatever?)

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, I guess you are expecting a response from your post. I'll try to answer your questions, so you don't need to play "gotcha".

    1)You say, "mrfearless, you did a great job of smoking out the true intention-reducing average teacher compensation."

    The continued increase (8th fastest according to NEA 2005) in compensation necessarily has to slow down to where Oregon K-12 employees are not the 8th highest individually compensated in the U.S. This can take place over the next 15 years. The sooner the correction takes place, the better. The data shows that there has been no academic advantage to the relatively very high individual compensation.

    2) You ask, "Does the mysterious Mr. B mean all certified personnel, or only those in the classroom?"

    It includes everyone.

    3) You ask, "Why wouldn't teachers look at that and decide not to teach in Oregon, esp. if they could get a better teaching job in another state."

    There are only two states West of the Mississippi that pay higher compensation than Oregon and only seven states in the U.S. I would encourage any K-12 employee to go anywhere it would be best for them personally.

    4) You ask, "And most in demand are math and science teachers. Could they make more money in teaching or in some other line of work (engineering, high tech, banking, whatever?"

    They might be able to "make more money" in some other line of work, nothing has changed there. Not much different than in all of the other states, which compensate considerably less than Oregon, yet have superior academic results than Oregon. I also, don't think there would be a problem with differential compensation. Thus far, this has been met with resistance from the unions.

    5) This has nothing to do with "union busting". It has all to do with allocating compensation, to give more flexibility to Oregon K-12. We need 5,000 more K-3 teachers, complete programs, higher academic results. We now have teachers being laid off, curtailed programs, very poor graduation rates, pressure on complete school years, very poor attendance rates and very average academic results.

    What are your (or anyone) specific suggestions to create a better K-12 in Oregon? So far in this whole discussion, no one has offered anything in the way of proposed solutions.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Rob: "I remind everyone that the money the state and federal government collects from it's citizens does not belong to the government. It belongs to those who worked for it."

    Not entirely true, and especially not theoretically true!

    Those that earn money here OWE some of their fortune to the opportunity that has been created by the U.S. to EARN money. I challenge any person to go to another country and have the same opportunity to earn wealth. Most would not be as successful as they have been here. America provides opportunity, and it is a moral responsibility to give "in kind" to the country that provided you this opportunity. This means... taxes.

    Anyone that says, "My money is my own.", is extremely selfish and self-centered. I am poor and I pay taxes. I NEVER complain about this because unlike those that do... I am wise enough to know where my money goes. I know that taxes benefit me and countless others. I understand that as an American, I am a part of a larger family that I hope cares enough about me, as I care about them.

    If we want to speak on fisical responsibility, balancing budgets... something that Republicans have failed to provide under the leadership of the Religious Right and the Neo-Conservatives, then we can speak on this. I think that both parties should be able to show where money is spent year-to-year, to show the value in our taxes clearly enough so that even the most dense anti-tax, self-centered person can comprehend.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Here is a very specific suggestion: Run for office (school board to Governor) on the platform VOTE FOR ME BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE THE FUNDING TO HIRE MORE TEACHERS IS TO LOWER THE COMPENSATION OF THE TEACHERS ALREADY EMPLOYED.

    A person elected on that platform (stating the positive, not running attack ads) would have a mandate to say "the voters elected me to cut teacher compensation". Or course, that would have to be done under collective bargaining. Ron Saxton's "bright" idea to fire all public employees and then hire them back in a way that would cut PERS costs sure went over like a lead balloon.

    But no amount of complaining on a blog that people do not agree with "It has all to do with allocating compensation, to give more flexibility to Oregon K-12. We need 5,000 more K-3 teachers, complete programs, higher academic results" and saying those who disagree don't have any specific ideas for K-12 education, is going to force people to say "OK, you win, here are my 10 proposals".

    Or they might say "Concrete suggestion: quit blogging and go volunteer in a school".

    Of course, that is out here in the real world, where Salem-Keizer management gave raises to administrators, but not to teachers who had worked days without pay during a budget crunch. We had regime change in school district management because voters got angry about that. Signs which went up in stores saying SUPPORT SALEM-KEIZER TEACHERS showed the community was on the side of the teachers during the contract negotiations. The Superintendent's retirement date has already been announced. The school board elections gave us a majority of new members.

    But that was due to actions outside the blogosphere. No one should expect blogging to convince citizens active in their community that they should obey the demands of a blogger to see things only from one point of view.

    But I do think we need a public debate. Actual people whose identity we know (not just bloggers) should be debating tax reform and where the money is spent. It was shameful how much of the 2005 budget was negotiated behind closed doors.

    We should demand that 2006 candidates discuss that process, and what they think of various tax reform proposals. "The voters have spoken on Measure 30 so the tax structure in this state can never be discussed" is an unacceptable attitude and anyone with that attitude does not want my vote!

    Perhaps Bailie, using whole real name, could write a guest opinion in a major newspaper explaining why reducing teacher compensation is the one and only possible solution. Then peopel who don't read blogs could write letters to the editor giving their opinions of the idea.

    B. says the data means everyone,not just teachers. So why not say "all educational personnel, from the Supt. down to the classroom assistants who work part time and are paid by the hour" instead of "This is illustrated by the data that Oregon has the widest divergence of all states between "per capita income" and "average public K-12 teacher salaries"?

    So, teachers should be paid according to local per capita income? Or is a teacher in a rural area to be paid on state averages which include the Portland area? Where in the US are salaries based on per capita income? Surely not in Denver which just passed that ballot measure for incentives if teachers teach in poor schools and rewards for student achievement.

    Now, if all state employees (from state university presidents to the janitors in the capitol and other state-owned buildings) and all city and county employees (from police and fire to county health department, county/ city library, county clerk's office, etc.) should be paid according to per capita income, that sounds like basis for a ballot measure. Of course, ballot measures have the names of sponsors on the back and are required to actually collect signatures out in public.

    But what if research shows some of those public employees are currently earning less than per capita income? There was once a ballot measure along the lines of paying state employees what their work was worth in the private sector, and then it turned out some expert state employees would be getting raises under that system. Where would the money to raise those salaries come from? Or are education employees somehow different from other public employees?

    Does this data really say that the average of every district employee (Supt. to part time assistants paid an hourly wage) is higher in Oregon than in some states? Or is this one of those "tricks with data" things like the story of Bill Gates going into a bar?

    The minute that Bill Gates walks into a bar, the average income of everyone in the bar goes up, and when he walks out, that average income goes down. That doesn't make the other bar patrons among the most well compensated of their profession, just that a rich guy walked into a bar.

    But some people would rather pick a fight on a blog than actually go out into the real world and get involved in politics. I have more respect for the parent who volunteers once a week (or once a month) at the local school than someone who demands others on a blog agree with a particular set of data.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT (or anyone),

    I'll ask again, What are your (or anyone) specific suggestions to create a better K-12 in Oregon? More teachers? Smaller classes? Less classified staff? Less Administration? Higher teacher compensation? Year around school? Reinstatement of curtailed programs? Higher taxes? Lower teacher standards? Get rid of CIM/CAM? Restructure collective bargaining? Statewide K-12 employee compensation schedules? Anything?

    Oregon K-12 is in crisis. Do you support the present situation?

    What are your reasons, why Oregon K-12 employees should be individually compensated higher than most other K-12 employees of other states?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie recites his same tired question over and over and over and over and over and over and over (did I say over) again.

    I'll ask again, What are your (or anyone) specific suggestions to create a better K-12 in Oregon? More teachers? Smaller classes? Less classified staff? Less Administration? Higher teacher compensation? Year around school? Reinstatement of curtailed programs? Higher taxes? Lower teacher standards? Get rid of CIM/CAM? Restructure collective bargaining? Statewide K-12 employee compensation schedules? Anything?

    Oregon K-12 is in crisis. Do you support the present situation?

    What are your reasons, why Oregon K-12 employees should be individually compensated higher than most other K-12 employees of other states?

    So, bailie, you get to be queen for a day. You get to fix this problem. Describe in exacting detail HOW you would solve the problem you feel is the central barrier to a sound educational system in Oregon. What policy implications would this have? Describe what the intended and unintended consequences of your solution.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    A writer in today's Sunday Oregonian says that "people who are interested in facts like to study and research...." they are liberals.

    Its a good argument. But here on Blueoregon, it is Bailie who has done the study and research. It is the (presumably) liberals who scorn the results of painstaking research and denigrate the facts presented. I ask, how representative of liberals and liberalism is Blueoregon?

    Lest anyone think that the issues presented by Bailie are simply unimportant, a wider reading should convince most thinkers that we face a dangerous combination of financial, energy, and demographic pressures. We don't have to respond to these challenges in a thoughtful and planned way, but I think our future will be brighter if we bring a higher level of thought to the issues than I have seen here on BlueOregon in response to spending issues in public education.

    As for the practice here of censorship, that is antithetical to quality discourse and does not reflect liberal values so much as an ultra-conservative fear of dialogue.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    The goal in what I suggest, primarily is to make possible, the hiring of 5,000 additional teachers (K-3), reinstating lost programs, lowering Oregon's 4th highest student/teacher ratio. It is not to reduce overall K-12 funding.

    "I expect, and have suggested that much of the shortfall will be made up by freezing the salaries and benefit packages of teachers, support staff and administrators, simply because employee compensation makes up over 80% of the cost of schools." (Gov. Ted Kulongoski 1-15-2003) Oregon could freeze K-12 employee compensation for 5 consecutive years and we would still be compensating greater than the 25th ranking state. (NEA,2005) It doesn't have to be that drastic as suggested by the Governor, but should happen in 15 years or less.

    Suggestions: 1) Eliminate CIM/CAM immediately. 2) As a starter, hold all compensation increases for all education employees to the cost of living. This would include those eligible for step increases (which are now are over 6% per year) and benefit increases. 3) Eliminate the district payment of the 6% employee payment to PERS. 4) Eliminate the Masters of Education requirement standard. 5) Use school buildings year around like almost every other institution/business.

    With these adjustments, Oregon would still be considerably above the 25th ranking state in K-12 compensation. Student achievement most likely would be enhanced. High individual K-12 compensation does not correlate to high academic results. Oregon is as good as example as any.

    What are your (or anyone) specific suggestions to create a better K-12 in Oregon? More teachers? Smaller classes? Less classified staff? Less Administration? Higher teacher compensation? Year around school? Reinstatement of curtailed programs? Higher taxes? Lower teacher standards? Get rid of CIM/CAM? Restructure collective bargaining? Statewide K-12 employee compensation schedules? Anything?

    Oregon K-12 is in crisis. Do you support the present situation?

    What are your reasons, why Oregon K-12 employees should be individually compensated higher than most other K-12 employees of other states?

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    If you are complaining about teacher compensation, you are barking up the wrong tree! Why is it that whenever there are complaints, people blame the overworked teachers? Who else is going to look after your bratty kids? Who else is going to pay for a good portion of their own supplies out of their own pockets when there is not enough money?

    Here's my solution: Year-around school. Larger districts should get more money than smaller ones. Portland should not suffer while rural districts get more money per student. Quit giving tax breaks to big business and channel that extra money into education.

    You want to solve this? It requires taxes, pure and simple. You cannot cut your way into a better education. Unfortunately, most Oregonians are too selfish to seriously consider such things. It is all about "me, me, me..." No sense of community or the greater good. "I want school vouchers so I can take my white kid to a private school!" and all that crap. Toughen up and get your hands dirty.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    dmrusso, What is different about Oregon teachers (all K-12 employees) that they are required to be individually compensated higher than those in almost all other states? Because of the high individual compensation, some districts are laying off teachers, curtailing programs and enduring large classes. Wouldn't it be better to hire 5,000 more teachers(K-3), have smaller classes and full academic programs? And, still have above average compensated teachers. Oregon supports education very well, we just can't afford the 8th highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S.

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    Marvin, you state: "As for the practice here of censorship, that is antithetical to quality discourse..."

    Wrong. There is no censorship here. (Except for deleting comment spam from pornographers.) We have barred a small handful of commenters who a) overparticipate, shouting down other voices, and b) those who are violent, rude, threatening, etc.

    As I've noted many, many times, anyone is welcome to start their own blog. Many commenters here have gone on to do just that. Consequently, I suspect that BlueOregon is responsible for some of the growth in the conservative blogosphere in Oregon.

    One last note: BlueOregon is NOT intended to be a venue for left-right debate or fistfighting. Rather, it's intended to be "the water cooler around which Oregon progressives gather."

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Kari, I think there could be the impression of censorship when a person tries to post and is given the explanation Something like, "you are not allowed to post comments". I would guess that many first time posters, don't get by that.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Cutting teacher's salaries will not solve the problem, even if you use that money to hire more teachers. I think that if you lowered compensation, you would surely have a hard time hiring good teachers.

    It seems to me like you are stuck in conservative limbo... cutting and being selfish. No matter who writes to you, your tactic has never changed.

    Let's just get rid of all government and let our children by educated by wolves! I love that idea.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Kari is right. Bailie is a broken record-- some of us have memorized the content of posts like this one

    Posted by: Bailie | Nov 6, 2005 8:01:59 PM

    We know that is what you believe. Some of us don't agree --as is our right!

    dmrusso, by comparison, is original.

    Now, Bailie, if you want to present evidence that "the state of---- cut compensation, hired more teachers, and things are going very well", by all means do so. And then if anyone on this blog knows someone in that state, they can contact the person they know for independent verification. Otherwise, we have memorized your chant, so why don't you set up your own blog?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    If the comments on this forum are representative of "progressive" thinking, I guess Oregon deserves what we are getting in K-12 education. Higher class sizes, more laid off teachers, a deteriorating graduation rate (now 32nd), the 49th ranking in attendance, curtailed programs (music, PE etc.), a high dropout rate and very average academic results. But hey, we have among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S. We should be really proud of that.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Another point of view that the allocation of spending for K-12 is the problem, not lack of spending.

    OREGON'S REPORT CARD: By Larry Huss

    The National Assessment of Education Report for 2005 has been released showing Oregon's performance approximates that national average. This is one of the few times that I would agree with the education lobby - average isn't good enough. However, contrary to that annual hue and cry of the education lobby to increase funding to fix the problem, the taxpayers are not at fault for this mediocrity. The solution to this problem lies with the education professionals and their unions, not with increased taxes.

    While the report covers all the states and the District of Columbia, I tend to favor comparisons with states that are in relative proximity to Oregon and with whom Oregon is likely to compete for jobs and business location, expansion and retention. Thus in our region, we see that student performance is highest in Washington with a composite reading and math score of 465; followed closely by Idaho at 464 and Colorado at 463. Utah is fourth at 460 and Oregon dips to 455 (slightly above the national average at 454). Then come Nevada and Arizona at 437 and New Mexico at 431.

    So, what is the correlation between school spending and student performance? On both a national and regional level, virtually none. And that information comes from the National Education Association (NEA), the teachers union in its 2004 report on education. The District of Columbia spends more than any state based upon the average days attending (ADA) per student at the rate of $14,621 per student. Not surprisingly, the District of Columbia is also dead last in performance with a composite reading and math score of 402. The most relevant comparison is the cost per student within the region. So let's do the math.

    By Cost Per Student ........... By Performance New Mexico $8,772.00 ...... Washington 465 Colorado .... $8,651.00 ...... Idaho 464 Oregon ....... $8,575.00 ...... Colorado 463 Washington.. $7,904.00 ...... Utah 460 Idaho .......... $6,779.00 ...... Oregon 455 Nevada ....... $6,177.00 ...... Nevada 437 Arizona ....... $5,595.00 ...... Arizona 437 Utah ........... $5,556.00 ...... New Mexico 431

    On a regional level, New Mexico leads the pack on spending per ADA at $8772 per student and yet it finishes dead last with a composite score of 431. In contrast, Utah has the lowest spending per ADA at $5556 per student but finishes within shouting distance of the leader, Washington.

    In a recent edition, the Oregonian suggested that the culprit was the student teacher ratio. It reported that while Oregon spent slightly more per student than Washington, Oregon had a higher student teacher ratio. As usual the Oregonian was wrong on both counts. The Oregonian pegged the spending difference at $275 per student while in actuality the figure is $671per student - Oregon's spending being that much higher than Washington. And the student teacher ratio differential, while insignificant, actually favored Oregon with a 17.8:1 vs. Washington's 18.0:1. But even that appears to be irrelevant within the region.

    Based on student/teacher ratios ......Based on Performance New Mexico 13.5 ............ Washington 465 Colorado .... 15.6 ............ Idaho 464 Idaho .......... 16.6 ............ Colorado 463 Oregon ....... 17.8 ............ Utah 460 Washington . 18.0 ............ Oregon 455 Arizona ....... 20.2 ............ Nevada 437 Utah ........... 20.6 ............ Arizona 437 Nevada ...... 20.6 ............ New Mexico 431

    Utah has the highest student/teacher ratio at 20.6:1 while New Mexico has the lowest at 13.5:1. Again New Mexico is dead last in the region despite the lowest student teacher ratio and Utah finishes clearly ahead of ahead of Oregon. Unchecked spending and increased hiring of union teachers does not appear to be the answer. (By the way, Utah is a right to work state and the teachers' union struggles to get any political participation by its members -said another way, in Utah the teacher's focus is on the children, not the union.)

    The scoreboard doesn't lie. The school lobby's continued hue and cry for more spending, more hiring, more, more, more. . . doesn't add up. It's time for a new solution and it all centers on accountability.

    Before, school professionals ask for another dollar, there ought to be a demonstration that the dollars they are given are spent efficiently. And the best way to test that is to benchmark spending and performance against our neighbors. You, the taxpayers, don't have to have the solutions yourself. You simply have to demand that the professionals you hire demonstrate they are better than our neighboring states in producing a quality education product, more efficiently than others. If they can't or won't do it, get rid of them and find some that can and will. That's what is expected in your business and no less should be expected in your government.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    dmrusso believes that "Cutting teacher's salaries will not solve the problem, even if you use that money to hire more teachers. I think that if you lowered compensation, you would surely have a hard time hiring good teachers.

    Let's just get rid of all government and let our children by educated by wolves! I love that idea."

    Russo uses an old rhetorical device: damn an opposing view by exaggerating what has been proposed. It won't work here. The NEA and others post teacher salaries state by state and one can see that other states have less costly compensation packages than Oregon and yet obtain good teachers as evidenced by student scores and teacher qualifications.

    It is sad that the discussion is being posited as a liberal versus conservative debate. Good management of resources should be a cherished value by persons of all political views except, perhaps, those who favor anarchy. From a student's view, any dollar not well spend in K-12 education is one less dollar that society has available for other uses, including higher education.

  • jj (unverified)
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    Maybe we should just adopt the Japanese system for schooling. According to UNESCO, they spend just over $5000/student K-6 and around $5900 6-12. They have the largest student to teacher ratio's at age 13 (35.5)

    http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/ja/Education&b_cite=1

    and yet they consistently score near the top in most categories repeatedly. Of course we would have to adopt cultural changes such as respect for education, teachers, and topics like math and science....

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