House passes 18% increase for K-12 education

NomoredoonesburyThis morning, the Oregon House passed a $6.245 billion budget for K-12 education in 2007-2009. That's an 18% increase over the 2005-2007 budget.

Elections matter. House Republicans used to talk about "funding schools first" but never delivered. Oregon's House Democrats did -- and GOP members fell in line, passing the three budget bills unanimously. (HB 5019, HB 5020 and HB 5021)

In a statement, Speaker Jeff Merkley said:

“This is a budget we can all be proud of. This year Oregon kids won’t have to worry about their schools closing early or their favorite classes being cut in order to save money.”

Ways & Means Education Subcommittee Chair Larry Galizio (D-Tigard) said:

“In recent years, we have passed budgets that have increased the student-teacher ratio, cut school days, reduced class offerings and really short-changed Oregon students, their families and the state’s well-being ... In contrast, this budget reverses that direction, and it moves us toward lower class sizes, a full school year, and it restores essential programs to our public schools to the benefit or Oregon’s kids.”

For those keeping score at home, the House Democrats have now delivered on 7 of the 12 agenda items they promised in the Roadmap for Oregon's Future (pdf). Elections matter.


  • (Show?)

    It is a good day ! Of course there is much to be gained and rebuilt as Oregon schools recover from a generation of cuts, reduced programs and shortened school years. This is a great beginning towards making progress towards the QEM. I had the pleasure of attending a groundbreaking ceremony today at Happy Valley Elementary as a result of the bond passed in North Clackamas. Because of this budget, class sizes will be reduced, counselors will be added and elementary students will gain an extra day of pe and music next year in our district. It is but a beginning but it does feel as though Oregon is ready to embark on funding top tier schools once again.

  • Dave Porter (unverified)

    It's great and more is needed for education. Promise made, promise kept.

    I note that Oregon is still probably spending more on the US defense budget than on K-12 education. The Stockholm International Peace Institute recently listed the top 10 global military spenders in 2006. The US is number one with $528.7 billion (46 percent of the global total). If Oregon's share is equal to its percent of US population (1.236%), then Oregon's share of the US defense budget is $6.53 billion. Still more than the new K-12 education budget. Just another perspective.

  • (Show?)

    Glad to see it passed. After all that stalling they did last Thursday, I was worried about what would become of the bill.

  • nutmeg (unverified)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see previous cuts in K-12 education restored. However, buy a clue Oregon (nor any other state) has part of their state funds going to defense spending. You don't like the war, we get it. Nobody likes the war. Stay on topic.

  • Yamhill county Mitch (unverified)

    Nice amount of money, nothing too the kids though. When I was in school 20 years ago we had lots of programs, we had wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, drama, art, FFA, ski club, home-ec, sports without extra financial help from parents. Now, now we have an art class and a very low budget wood shop all the rest are gone, and we have to pay for every sport we play. We have more money now then we did 20 years ago and far less programs in the school. The money doesn’t make it to this kids…If it did we would have all those programs. How much money do the Unions need anyway???

  • (Show?)

    "How much money do the Unions need anyway???"

    I'm sure you really meant the corporations, since they're the ones who have gotten the break on taxes since those great days when property taxes were allowed to pay for schools. But blame the unions if it makes you feel any better. They're the ones refusing health care reform so that costs go up by multiples of inflation every year, I'm sure. It just can't be the conservative movement trying to protect pharmaceutical profits, no way.

  • (Show?)

    We have more money now then we did 20 years ago and far less programs in the school.

    It couldn't do anything with the fact that teaching kids now costs more than it used to? That supplies, books, electricity, etc. all cost more. That now we have computers in the schools, as well as internet.

    We also require a lot more of our teachers than we did 20 years ago, which of course means they're going to receive more pay than they used to. Giving more responsibility, expecting more, etc. without giving pay increases is something corporations do and we complain about it. We should be an example of what an employer should be like.

    We do need to get vocational and technical training back in the schools, though. We need to do what we can to partner with the construction unions - they're seeing huge numbers of retirements and not enough people to replace them. We'll soon have a shortage in areas like carpenters and electricians. We need to do what we can to prepare students who aren't going to go into college so they can get a livable wage and a good job.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    How much do teachers need?

    Hmmm... average CEO makes about $2,000,000 a year... working about half as hard as I do... but... I'll be fair... how about five percent of what they make?

    Five percent.

    That'd be $100,000 or about double what teachers actually make in Oregon.

    Funny how exurb folks love big business, but hate schools, cuz they usually didn't do so well in them. But that's just my experience. Yours, Mitch?

  • j_luthergoober (unverified)

    Before Oregon breaks its collective arm patting itself on the back for its educational prowess, can we all agree that public school starts at age 5 not 7?

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    This is great news. Now we can spend more money on a system that turns out some of the lowest performing students in the world.

    But none of this is the teacher's or administrator's fault is it?

  • (Show?)

    can we all agree that public school starts at age 5 not 7?

    Not sure what you mean by that - it does start at age 5. My daughter (who turned 5 this year) starts kindergarten this fall.

  • (Show?)

    I'm pleased to see the funding increased and hope it's reflected in my childrens' classrooms soon.

    I just sat through my daughter's 8th grade promotion ceremony and heard teachers discuss things like:

    1st year Spanish class: 32 students 1st year geometry class: 38 students 2nd year algebra: 35 students

    and so on. As I've posted here before, my son's first grade class is 26 students and one teacher. A typical high school class in the district exceeds 40 students.

  • Yamhill county (unverified)

    Lets see Corporation 1. They make money to stay in business 2. They pay people to make sure the company stays successful 3. There is competition between employees 4. They pay property tax 5. They lease office space or build there own buildings with their profits 6. If the corporation does not do well they can go out of business

    Any school in Oregon 1. Tax payers give them money regardless if you have it or not 2. They pay people to work whether they are successful or not 3. There is no competition between employees 4. Schools don’t pay property taxes 5. Schools are either paid for or a bond is put out that is paid for by increasing property taxes 6. If schools don’t do well kids don’t learn

    We have less programs for kids now then we did 20 years ago, and yes, I understand the cost of things go up but dollar for dollar there is more money for kids now then there was 20 years ago. Salaries and benefits are eating your kids money, two years from now after receiving all this new money they will still be complaining that the classrooms are too big, we need more money.

    Toridjoe “I'm sure you really meant the corporations, since they're the ones who have gotten the break on taxes since those great days when property taxes were allowed to pay for schools.” Do you understand that schools don’t pay property taxes and that the average school site in Oregon is 40 acres. I pay $1700.00 a year for and 8000 sf lot. 40 acres = 217 8000sf lots. Lets just be conservative and say each one of those lots would pay $1500.00, that times 217 = $325,550.00. Let’s be more conservative and cut that number in half $162,000.00 and that is what the school should pay in property taxes for there land. Times that by how many schools in Oregon, oh say 200? X $162,000.00 = $32,400,000.00 Who is getting the better deal, Even with the property tax abatement, Intel says it pays more property taxes in Oregon -- it paid $11 million in 2001. Shools don’t pay property taxes, churches don’t pay property taxes, government buildings don’t pay property taxes, all the state colleges in Oregon don’t pay property taxes, hospitals don’t pay property taxes. Now add up all that land and put a number to it, someone is subsidizing somewhere. The paper plant in Newberg Oregon, (SOUTHEAST PAPER MANUFACTURING CO) the assessed tax = $138,244,577.00 they paid this amount $1,114,384.14 That is just two companies in Oregon and they paid over 12 million in taxes.

  • AT (unverified)

    Forgive me for being a cynic, but 6.2 billion is more than 1.5 billion under what the Quality Education Model says is needed to get 90% of Oregon students meeting state academic standards . The QEM is part of a 1999 law that Oregon legislators passed. It sets a standard for funding for QUALITY education, not just getting by, not just more than last time when the Republicans slashed the budget mercilessly.

    My awareness at just how poorly funded Oregon schools are is awakened when I talk to friends from other states. A good friend from Spokane, Washington is speaking today at her school board meeting because she is outraged that they are cutting their full time teacher librarian positions down to part time teacher librarian positions.She is outraged because her district has classified those positions as "non-mandated" and she is armed with studies that show the long term value of school librarians for children's educations.

    I helped her strategize, but first I had to tell her just how much less PPS students had--that her problem looked like a gold-plated problem from Portland. At my daughter's school (which was closed in 2005), the librarian position was eliminated years ago. In order to keep our library open, we had to have a "Bowling for Books" fundraiser to help pay for our part time librarian, who was not a teacher and was studying to be a librarian but did not have a degree. There are many elementary schools here where the library is underutilized, not used at all, or run by parents. This is pathetic.

    The politicians of both parties try to obscure the fact that Oregon children are being deprived of a good education because of greed and short sightedness. Why aren't Oregon Democrats bringing up the QEM? Why don't they compare our education funding to the funding in other states? I think a big part of it is because it would mean standing up to corporations and instituting fair corporate taxes. A true leader would be questioning federal policies like NCLB and the funding of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan while social services and education are left with paltry budgets.

    So the Oregon State Dems are patting themselves on the back for passing this budget. What are they saying? "We are better than Karen Minnis and her heartless rightwing friends?" This smacks of party spin and the victims are Oregon's children. I am not impressed by this kind of leadership and won't be until our children have what they deserve, which is far, far more.

  • Julie (unverified)

    can we all agree that public school starts at age 5 not 7?

    FYI Jenni,

    Oregon doesn't require kids to be in school until they are 7 years old. That way, they don't have to pay for full time kindergarten like most other states that require kids to be in school by age 6. This is also part of the reason that kids are generally a year behind that of California. It is because the curriculum is one year behind.

  • (Show?)
    Toridjoe “I'm sure you really meant the corporations, since they're the ones who have gotten the break on taxes since those great days when property taxes were allowed to pay for schools.” Do you understand that schools don’t pay property taxes...

    Yes, I do. Do you understand that I was referring to how schools are FUNDED, not what taxes they pay? And that because the tax burden has shifted away from corporations, that funding is inadequate for our schools?

  • Ron Buel (unverified)

    Man has AT got it right (see above). It was interesting to go down to Salem and testify in the Education Committee on behalf of HJR 54. That is the constitutional floor idea, first put forth by Jeff Merkley three sessions ago, but expanded this time by Ben Cannon to include community colleges and public higher education.
    The bill I testified for would have referred to voters a floor that would needed to be beaten back by a 60% majority in both houses. Otherwise, the floor would have provided 100% of QEM, would have provided 70% of total student cost from the State for OSSHE students, and 50% for community college students (instead of the 46% provided today for college students and the 40% provided for community college students (who remember also have a local property tax in many districts).
    It was gratifying to see the Oregon Student Association and the Oregon Community College Association testifying for the bill. Well, who was against it, you ask. The answer, of course, is the OEA and Stand for Children, who were successful in killing this measure. Their testimony, based on the fact that this would over-ride some long-shot lawsuit that has been filed, was incredibly lame. The real story here is that the OEA wants to set the agenda (and Stand knows where the power is), and they don't want to take anything to the ballot that isn't rubber-stamped with success in advance by their pollsters. The OEA lobbyists could never win a fair debate on this issue at their PIE convention, but the legislature (and the Governor) are run by a narrow band of insiders. SEIU and OEA are linked at the hip by more than the fact that the Governor's top two assistants come from these two unions. The SEIU doesn't want a floor for education -- what about their public employee salaries outside education? Neither does AFSCME, who wants more money for prisons. The OEA and SEIU are happy with the status quo. They run the State and they live and die on playing defense and easy wins. Don't expect to see any real leadership out of Salem on tax reform or stable and adequate long-range funding for education, or universal health care. Its why the OEA hasn't put anything meaningful on the ballot since 1994. A loss might loosen their grip on the whole ballgame, and piss off some of their powerful inside friends in other unions at the same time. Much smarter to play defense than to lead. Hire the smart campaign consultants and canny pollsters, and defend the status quo, which has been very good to these insiders, giving them the power that belongs to the people instead. Then, when the economy is good, and the budget going up, claim the wins, and point to your junior rainy day fund, and forget the real need in this state for education that ranks above the bottom 10% in the country, and will continue to do so even with this short two-year improvement.

  • LT (unverified)

    Be careful not to equate the OEA with ordinary teachers. The PIE endorsement process is flawed and has been for a long time. I know teachers who are frustrated with OEA. The OEA lobbyists have been people who don't want to give a straight answer to an ordinary voter because they see themselves as inside players. But how does bashing a union or any other lobbying group solve the problem, reform campaign financing, or otherwise change "the powers that be"?

    Anyone who reads the history of 100 years ago knows that the reform movements of that time were about taming big power in any sector of activity. Don't recall the year, but once I did a college paper on an internal fight in the Grange. Western farmers had almost a Jesse Jackson view of the situation, while the Midwestern farmers were more like Reagan. Perhaps we need that sort of internal debate now in all sorts of organizations, and a realization that individuals vote in elections, not organizations. Very few voting blocs left in the 21st century because people behave as individuals.

    Sorry, Ron, but you lost me with "more than the fact that the Governor's top two assistants come from these two unions. " So, the former legislative Labor Committee Chair isn't allowed to have labor assistants in his office? Where did that idea come from? Would it have condemned Gov/Dr. Kitzhaber from having a medical expert in his office, or Gov. Atiyeh from having someone he knew in the business world?

    If there were some sort of rule which said that if Saxton had been elected Governor he couldn't hire anyone he'd known in business or his law firm, you might have a point. But as it is you sound like just another anti-union rant.

    Anyone who knew me as a Democratic activist a couple decades ago knows I was no fan of unions, and questioned the whole OEA endorsement process.

    But also I see lots of anti-union bias. If someone wants to say Ben Cannon had a better idea in HJR 54 than OEA or anyone else had, that's fine. But the union bashing hides the fact unions aren't the only insiders who make ordinary folks wonder why they should bother with politics. There are also those who don't want ordinary people calling up legislative offices and saying "I read about this bill and it sounds interesting, what can you tell me about it?" because that sort of customer service takes away from other things legislative staffers are doing.

    Insider vs. outsider could end up being an issue in a variety of areas next year. Seems to me that the Public Comm. on the Legislature made more sense in many ways than legislative sessions.

  • (Show?)

    I'm glad someone (AT & Ron Buel) remembered that the Legislature is required to adequately fund the schools in Oregon according the QEM. While this increase is welcome, it's still not "adequate."

    I'm surprised that no one mentioned the lawsuit that is currently proceeding against the State, the Legislature in particular, that aims to hold the Legislature accountable for ignoring their Constitutionally mandated requirement. When we passed Measure 1, we made it part of the Oregon Constitution that the Legislature MUST allocate funds

    The Oregon School Funding Defense Foundation has a very informative PowerPoint presentation (don't groan) regarding the Legislature's failure to adequately fund Oregon schools. It's quite compelling.

    <h2>While the lawsuit hasn't received a lot of media attention, it may be what is needed to solve the education funding crisis in Oregon. Other lawsuits like it, in other states, have been successful and have improved funding levels.</h2>
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