We don't want to get there last!

Paulie Brading

This is not an anti-growth or anti-business post. This is a post about investing in our collective future as a state. We need big thinking for Oregon. I post today about "little" thinking for Oregon's future. Oregon has been investing in fixing potholes, not in changing paradigms. This is about raising income tax revenues because better educated Oregonians make more money.

An example of some "little" thinking is The Oregon Prosperity Project and it's initiative of the Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) and several of Oregon's leading businesses, trade associations and Chambers of Commerce. In 2011 AOI was especially proud of seven new freshman legislators who had 100% voting records supporting AOI. Four of the seven were recently defeated in this year's election. They are former House Representatives R-Katie Eyre and R-Shawn Lindsay of Hillsboro, R-Representative Matt Wand of Troutdale, and R-Patrick Sheehan of Clackamas. Three of the seven Representatives were returned to the House. They are R-Julie Parrish of West Linn, R-Representative Mark Johnson of Hood River and R- Representative Jason Conger of Bend. Little thinkers? You decide. Keep track of their voting records.

Oregon is a state committed to help businesses grow and get Oregonians back to work. However, The Associated Oregon Industies platform clearly states they are unwilling to raise taxes or increase fees and unwilling to issue more debt.

AOI, Oregon Business Council, Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc., Jeld-Wen, Weyerhaeuser and Siltrontic are listed as AOI partners. The Chambers in Oregon who've signed on to the AOI initiative are Medford, Tualatin, Dallas Area, Seaside, North Clackamas, Wilsonville and Salem. The Portland Business Alliance is also listed as a partner of OAI.

Trained skilled workers are the result of public and private education from pre-school to the end of training or university work. Oregon has the second shortest school year in the United States, only 66% of our seniors are graduating from high school, and class sizes are exploding in size with more and more students sitting on window ledges or on the floor peeking between chair legs and sneakers to try to see their teacher. Jobs around the state go unfilled because of the inability of potential employees to pass drug tests, poor training and weak educational backgrounds. Parents in every corner of Oregon are concerned about the lack of funding for education. It is time to invest in Oregon's education, not drown education in Norquist's bathtub.

The November 2012 Oregon Prosperity Project Election Division wrote,"Collectively, these seven legislators or former legislators, all new to the legislator in 2011, were dismayed at the job losses, taxes, debt, and unsustainable spending emanating from Salem, stepped forward from their private sector jobs and their private lives and helped change the direction in Oregon." How about rebuilding Oregon folks? Oregon has a pretty scary future.

How about investing in a prepared work force. How about giving Oregon's kids the idea that their lives could have different possibilities through education. It is time to reconnect the pipeline from education to jobs. Small adjustments don't work. To the new members of the Oregon House and Senate, think big. Stop the drift toward mediocracy in our schools. Think BIG!

Full Disclosure: This is the 5th year I have served on the Medford School Board.

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    I am very glad that some of those members are gone. They helped pushed a destructive edcucation reform package, and for the past couple years, instead of focusing on how to get us out of this mess, energy has been put into re-arranging the deck chairs (I need to find a better analogy that the over used one), and not only that, but we are sinking money into reforms that do not help our students, and in fact are harmful. We need to listen to students, parents, and teacher...those closest to our students. Then we need our local school board members to honor those voices, and our policy starts there...it starts from the bottom up, not top down. Thank you.

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    Excuse my typos. I was overly excited to post! :-)

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    The governor is correctly going to try and push reforms to PERS that appear to address upwards of $300 million of the $1.8 billion in shortfalls that the state and local governments are having to absorb. These fixes are absolutely necessary if we want new money spent on schools to reduce class sizes and restore programs. I hope that the Democratic majority will have the courage to back the governors reforms, even ithough it will mean standing up to the democrats' two biggest funders.

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    Funding is necessary! However, we must be mindful of what we are going to spend our money on. Longitudinal Data systems that will cost at least 50 million dollars, more bureaucratic positions at the state level, new Common Core curriculum implementation, training, and testing for starters? We need to invest in smaller class sizes, programs such as PE, music, library media specialists, art, and sports instead. We need to get rid of high stakes testing and trust our teachers to authentically assess our students. Yes, Susan, we need to go from the bottom up, not top down, and this starts with the voices of parents, students, and teachers, and the community. These are the same voices that the Governer is now choosing to ignore. Glad to see people waking up and standing up for what is right. Our kids deserve it.

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    And don't be beating up on Mark Johnson for his 100% record with AOI, Paulie. He is bestest friends with Kitzhaber, who's donation of money and endorsement of this paragon might just have cost Peter Nordbye an election that he lost by fewer than 1000 out of 20,000 votes cast.

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    I can't believe Kitz did not endore Nordbye, but then again, I am not sure Kitz is a Democrat anymore.

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