Archive for the ‘
funding ’ Category
Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He writes an opinion column for The Oregonian on alternate Tuesdays. This column was originally posted to OregonLive.com on April 30, 2013 and can be found in its entirety here.
A few hours after Oregon House Democrats failed to pass a tax increase for high-income individuals and corporations last week, I mentioned to a staffer for one of their members that an alternative revenue package might now be in order. But when I suggested shaving personal income tax deductions by 5 percent as a better way to meet their revenue goal, the staffer surprised me by saying, “not 5 percent of my deductions.” And, having listened to the Democrats’ pleas for more revenue to save our schools, my response was just as emphatic: “Then it’s not worth it to you to pay more for schools — that’s the problem!”
This is the issue that we have yet to resolve at the state level. As I wrote in my last column, the message implicit in the House Democrats’ revenue package was that some services, such as schools, are so important that someone else should pay for them. Perhaps I oversimplified. The Democrats’ argument is that when it comes to getting back what we’ve lost — teachers, school days or shop classes — we should turn to those who used to pay more and are now paying less to support schools and services (insert your least favorite corporations here) and those who have benefited most from our economy (variously defined as the top 1 to 3 percent of income earners). That approach is arguably fair but decidedly limited if we want to secure the funding we need for our education system.
Adam Davis is a Founder and Principal of DHM Research, an independent, non-partisan public opinion research and consultation firm in Portland, Oregon. With over 30 years of experience in all phases of public opinion research, Adam’s expertise ranges from survey research design to focus group moderating.
Much is made in Oregon of the urban/rural divide—the supposed gulf that separates Oregonians living in urban and rural areas of the state based on differences in their values and beliefs. I started measuring these differences thirty-six years ago when I first began to research opinion in all corners of the state. While there are important differences, what I also learned then, and continue to see in our surveys today, is how similar we Oregonians are in much that we hold dear, regardless of where we live in the state. Too often only the differences are reported by the media and beaten like a drum in political speeches. (more…)
John Tapogna is President of the economic consulting firm, ECONorthwest. He oversees the firm’s overall business strategy and operations and has built practices in education, healthcare, human service, and tax policy. In education, he has directed evaluations of dropout prevention programs, the impacts of small class sizes, and the efficacy of small schools for clients like the Chalkboard Project, Washington’s League of Education Voters and Seattle Public Schools.
For much of the last 15 years, Oregon K-12 educators have waited for additional revenue to boost school quality and achievement. A weak economy and growing medical and corrections costs have gotten in the way. And looking forward, the costs associated with an aging population, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and rising public pension costs will compete with classroom dollars. In short, K-12’s fight for sustained, significant increases in funding will be as tough in the next decade as it has been in the past.
While educators can, and should, advocate for additional resources, they must simultaneously evaluate how well they are deploying the dollars they have. Evidence suggests a weak relationship between per-student spending and achievement. In a classic debate, competing economists from Princeton and Stanford dug into the same set of rigorous K-12 spending studies. The Princeton economist concluded spending had improved achievement in about half of the studies’ findings. By the Stanford economist’s accounting, only a quarter of the studies exhibited a spending-to-achievement link.
So, does money matter? These dueling economists might say the answer ranges from “maybe” to “probably not.” (more…)
As a former East County educator, I struggled watching the rancor between districts and unions in Reynolds, Parkrose, and Gresham-Barlow this past spring during teacher contract negotiations. Having friends on both sides, it was challenging to see each district struggle to balance competing demands. Hopefully, in all three cases, the beginning of this year will afford enough respite to focus attention on academic tasks and rebuilding frayed relationships.
Yet, I think Oregon districts are going to continue to see flare-ups when it comes to teacher contract negotiations, partly because of the still stagnant economy, but also because of several other factors:
a) Short period of time between contract negotiations: Since negotiating the contract is no one’s day job, the sides often protract the discussions long past the expiration of the previous contract. With most districts operating under a three-year scheme, what this does in effect is stagger contract negotiations right on top of the other. There is scant time for any hostility to cool or for teacher-district relationships to be aided by collaborative ventures. I have been prompted, having seen this scenario played out a few times, to wonder why the state and districts don’t work to change contract lengths (recognizing this is not a small task) to avoid this scenario. (more…)
Kaitlyn Delaney is Chalkboard Project’s summer intern. She is currently in an elementary education teacher preparation program at Florida State. This is Part 2 in her series of blog posts on Florida’s school grades. Read Part 1 of Kaitlyn’s post here.
Last month I wrote about the school grading system in my home state of Florida and the grades’ unique relationship to standardized testing and school-wide funding. The Florida elementary school grades were just released for the 2011-2012 year, and boy, was there a change in scores. (more…)
“The undercutting of funding for both K-12 education and OSU was the driving factor in our decision to move, wrenching as it was. We don’t have a control group on this, but it is interesting to think about what might have been had we felt able to stay in the community we loved so much and hated to leave.”
–Jane Acker, resident of Corvallis, 1984-1995
Take a trip in a time machine with me. It’s 1984. Reagan is wrapping up his first term. MTV is three years old (Madonna, Van Halen, Huey Lewis and Billy Joel videos are duking it out at the top of the charts), and Apple’s newest product (launched with the famous Super Bowl ad) was a Macintosh 128K.
My sister-in-law Jane had just moved with her young family to Corvallis, Oregon. Her husband David Acker was pursuing his PhD at OSU, focused on international development and agriculture. With four- and one-year-olds, and a one-quarter-time job between the two, the couple had put a high premium on settling where there were good public schools. (more…)
Kaitlyn Delaney is Chalkboard Project’s summer intern. Currently in an elementary education teacher preparation program at Florida State, she is writing a series of blog posts throughout the summer that focus on school grades.
As a native Floridian, it is common for me to see “Proud to be a ‘B’ school!” or “Congratulations students and teachers! We are an ‘A’ school once again!” displayed boldly across banners at the front of schools. These schools are celebrating their assigned school grades given out by the Florida Department of Education each year. Grades from A to F are based primarily on student scores on our state exam, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). While elementary and middle school scores are based solely on FCAT scores, high school grades consider other factors, such as graduation rates and college preparedness based on the SAT and ACT.
While attending public school, I did not think about school grades very often. I knew that my school was an ‘A’ school and that was the extent of my knowledge of the program. My school did not emphasize the importance of the state exam; rather it focused on instruction based on the Florida standards that guided the exam. Other students were not so lucky. Since the school grades are so dependent on the FCAT, many schools spend months preparing students for the test, and although the test is based on the state standards, I remember dreading completing the tortuously dull FCAT preparation workbooks for even a week.
Times are hard, as we all know. Our political leaders are preoccupied, understandably, with job creation.
But if they don’t put reversing the decline of public education as the highest priority, their efforts to bolster the economy by creating jobs are doomed to fail.
If we want a preview of what comes when public education goes into a death spiral, just look south. After years of economic crisis, the once-vaunted University of California college system, formerly among the world’s most envied, has lost appeal, with many high school counselors now advising high-achieving, college-bound graduates against applying there, due to declining quality from lack of funding.
The implications are obvious: brain drain/fewer college students coming to the state → a reduced pipeline of well-prepared young workers for the labor market → less interest from businesspeople in locating or expanding in the state → reluctance of smart people to move to places where schools are subpar = no way out of economic malaise. (more…)
When it first came out in 2001, I, like most teachers, saw NCLB as a direct threat to public education. The day after the Obama presidential election, there was a movement afoot among teachers in my building to print out ESEA/ NCLB and have a burying ceremony in the school garden. Our ceremony never came to fruition, and neither did the immediate revision of the act that has all but buried educators.
The problem with NCLB was its reliance on one test to judge the quality of schools. The judgments were harsh and extreme; they ranged from mandatory tutoring, to closing schools. There were no funds provided to mitigate poor programs. If politicians really had student success in mind, there would have been more money to help struggling performers, or, the measure would have targeted individual student progress over time. The punitive nature of NCLB focused on what we in teaching try to stay away from: motivation through threats.
I feel angry, conflicted and frustrated. I know schools took huge cuts (but was this really cuts to growth, but still more than last year?). I know class sizes had to be bigger (but was this really that unions would not budge?). I know specialties have been cut (but was this really staff inflexibility?). I know teachers are underpaid (but was this a balancing effort due to big benefits?).
All the things “I know” because my school district and the media tell me, yet I cannot make the facts fit with the numbers I saw at the legislature. The cuts to school budgets were not huge – the lack of increase was the key. So why so much change? No more library or computers at my son’s school. No more music options at my daughter’s school. Both have classrooms too big for even the best teachers. If we are just working with the dollars of last year, why are these schools so different?
Meeting agreed upon salary and benefit increases seem the answer to me – can any of you show where I am wrong?