By Russell Shaw of Beaverton, Oregon. Russell Shaw is a technology and politics author, journalist, blogger and consultant in Portland, Oregon. Recently, he contributed "I like Ben Westlund, but I won't vote for him."
The Portland Public Schools, as well as so many other school districts, are in a seemingly endless funding crisis. In fact, a special legislative session last month addressed the issue - and despite the partisan divide, agreed on a mildly effective, palliative solution.
Yet no matter how upbeat the "we've worked together" talk will be from Salem, the truth is that the root cause of the school funding issue won't even be addressed, nor even be hinted at.
That's because to truly fix the underlying revenue shortfall would require this state to tackle an issue that few, if any Oregonians are willing to act upon.
That's the fact that the ongoing school funding crisis is largely attributable to the fiscally and socially corrosive effects of Measure 5. Passed in 1990, that Measure severely limited the ability of local school districts and governments to fund their schools from locally collected property taxes.
Public policymakers and legislators who are scratching their heads about how to solve the public-school funding crisis need to stop dancing around the issue and realize a painful truth -- a truth that is a "third rail- touch it and you die" issue.
Which is: The only way to fix school funding in this state is to repeal Measure 5.
We had fewer school funding crises before then, but plenty of crises after that noxious referendum passed in 1990. In our socioeconomic climate -- when overpriced Pearl District, coastal, or Bend-area condominiums now under construction have year-long waiting lists of cash-rich acquirers, and the zeitgeist has swung from land-use protections to selfish private-property rights -- such an effort would surely not succeed.
But we as a state have to ask ourselves which is more important: a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars more of individual net worth a year, or an educated populace?
If we had a candidate running for governor who would have the guts to look past the political calculus, and outshout the Lars Larsons of this state by taking a brave stand backing the overturning of Measure 5, that candidate would win my support.