It seems that a great deal of what I do these days, as a parent, is raise money for schools. Like many other parents, I’m on the PTSA board and a handful of other committees. I’m not alone. Depending on the school, parents write grants, send out letters, organize events, buy wrapping paper, fill in the pledge sheets, and walk the neighborhood to sell magazine subscriptions. I think I’m on my fourth round of baking and it’s only October. In the words of a friend, “It’s just constant!”
The need to do so is clear. Every day, as I walk into my older son’s public school, I’m reminded of how much our educational system truly needs, and I am driven, compelled to try and fix it. His theater and technology programs have been cut and four more children have squeezed into his 2nd grade classroom this year. He now has 29 classmates and one teacher -- it’s no big surprise to me that Oregon ranks 49th in class sizes.
I’m happy to do what I can, despite my weariness of making one more cookie and writing one more grant. And sure, parents raise a lot of money – from thousands to tens of thousands to, depending on the school, hundreds of thousands.
It is not, however, $733 million. That’s how much Measures 66 and 67 aim to secure for our schools and other basic social services that many families so desperately need. If they pass in January, Oregon will go from 49th to 48th among corporate tax rates, and for the first time since 1931, Oregon corporations will be asked to pay more than a paltry $10 per year.
The measures also ask those households bringing in over $250,000 to pay about 2% more. While my family doesn’t come close to that kind of income, we would be more than happy to pay an increase, and not just for our own children. A myriad of studies show that funding public education is one of the best ways to lift a sinking economy out of the doldrums.
To be sure, these tax measures are not the ultimate cure. As an Oregonian and a parent, I wonder what it will take for voters and leaders to eventually decide upon a system of revenue that truly meets the needs of schools, basic human services and so many other necessary aspects of our infrastructure.
Until the best fix is found, however, parents like me need to fight for our schools, starting with signing the Defend Oregon pledge to vote yes on 66 and 67. We need to do more than vote in January, though. We need to get active, and get active now. After all, just think how hard it will be to sell $733 million in cookies.