Rep. Bailey on Education Funding & Policy

T.A. Barnhart

Last week, the House Democrats stated that Gov. Kitzhaber's proposed biennial budget of $3.56 billion was at least $200 million short of what they felt was adequate funding (adequate in light of the massive budget gap facing the state). Then, on Saturday, in a meeting with constituents, Rep. Jules Bailey (HD 42) stated that funding for the current service was "not up for negotiation".

I asked Rep. Bailey about this statement after the meeting and whether the House Dems' stand put them at odds with Gov. Kitzhaber, not merely over funding but the Governor's goal of systemic changes to the entire education system. This video is his response; at usual with Bailey, it's concise, articulate, positive and progressive.

T.A. Barnhart writes regularly at You’ll find more videos, including interviews and excerpts of local progressive events, at his Vimeo page. And he’s on Facebook a lot!

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    Rep. Bailey makes a good distinction between the level of funding for education and proposals for organizational and program changes. He tries to keep them independent. For me, they should be linked. I support more funding for education only if certain changes are made. Otherwise, we are investing in an increasingly inefficient and irrelevant education system. Now is the time for changes.

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    It's nice to hear some straight talk. This line from the governor about changing the education system by pulling funding from lower performers and giving it to the higher performers is just nonsense. And let's be clear. The state can set standards but educational services are controlled by local boards of education and superintendents. The legislature is going to continue to allocate money on an equitable per student basis. No one is going to change that.

    @David Porter- "More funding for education" isn't even on the table. What's on the table is how much less is there going to be. How much bigger are class sizes going to be? Are we going to cut funding for football or core subjects? How much are we going to cut core requirements for graduation? How much is the present curriculum going to be cut? How much are information services for research through libraries and online data bases going to be cut, are they going to exist at all? How many, not whether, days are going to be cut from the school year?

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    According to the NEA, Oregon is between 21st and 25th in terms of education funding depending on what metric is used but has one of the worst student-to-teacher ratios in the country. A recent report by PPS shows that Oregon also ranks near the bottom in terms of instructional days.

    So the $200,000,000 question in my mind is: What programs are they going to cut in order to raise this money, and how is it going to be spent?

    For example, it would be a really bad idea to raid higher ed for a piece of that $200 million since Oregon's K-12 system is pretty well-funded relative to total revenue when compared to other states, but our higher ed system ranks near the bottom in state funding. Similarly, are we talking about kicking people off of unemployment? Reducing money for veterans? People with disabilities? The mentally ill?

    They may find the money, but they will literally have to rob Peter to pay Paul in this scenario, and that fact should not be lost on anyone.

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    Tough choices for all, however we must also think longer term. We don't want to return to this funding hole again. We did it in 2002, and many times boom and bust before that.

    The governor's idea of merging k-12, cc and ous budgeting & structure would produce better outcomes, save money and maybe even open us up to using different metrics in education pre-k through, gray. Outcomes are measured in decades when it comes to students and should be included as a view in addition to metrics like school days and, food served.

    As far as higher ed. goes if tuition is going to be raised someone should accompany it with monies for the struggling. If you think k-12 per-student funding is bad, bring your tissues when you go to an ous campus. Those young people, some of them, carry and will carry huge debt for their schooling. Huge crippling debt.

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    I agree with David.

    It seems difficult to me to propose structural changes if your number one priority is focused on the level of funding.

    It's kind of like when a small business puts together a budget. The owner doesn't first say: "Let's budget for $500k this year, and then create a strategic plan with priorities. The planning comes first, and based on those outcomes, the budget is set.

    So I certainly don't disagree with what Rep. Bailey said, but I do question how you can push for changes and reforms when you're more concerned about the level of funding first.

    I believe this mindset is exactly what Kitzhaber is trying to reform in Oregon.


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