Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am the mother of a bright and talented 12 year old who has thrived in our neighborhood Portland Public Schools. As her mother, I believe it is my duty to make sure she has access to the best public education possible. Thus, it is with great frustration that I see our state not only preparing for another round of budget cuts, but on top of it rushing pell mell to burden our public schools with another layer of unfunded and unproven state mandates and bureaucracy.

As the Oregon Education Investment Board attempts to railroad the public and the Legislature into institutionalizing their vaguely defined bureaucratic pipe dream of "Achievement Compacts" and "outcome-based budgeting" for Oregon pre-schoolers through college graduates, I find a glimmer of hope in a speech Rep. Lew Frederick recently made in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In his speech, Rep. Frederick speaks truth to the power that expects our children to learn more with even less than they have now. Less individual time with teachers because their classes are so much larger and they have fewer days in school. If they had any art, music, P.E., library or social studies before, they will have much less, if any at all, next year. Their teachers will have less time for collaboration, training and mentoring on top of cuts to their pay and benefits. The only thing our kids can expect more of is standardized tests, scripted instruction, and test prep, demoralized teachers and news about "failing" schools. But, Rep. Frederick says it much more eloquently and succinctly:
And what about “higher standards”? I say it can’t be “higher” unless JOY in learning is part of the picture. What will we reap, if all of our children, 100%, test well on the part of reading and math that we test, but generally hate reading and math? We need to apply “higher standards” to adults who make these decisions, and stop shaking up our kids educational opportunities based on sloppy or wishful thinking.
Rep. Frederick is also one of a very few voices in the halls of our State Capitol calling for the need to increase funding and investment in our children's education:
“You can’t solve problems by throwing money at them.” Puhleeze. I can’t believe that I actually hear this one, on the floor of the Oregon House, stated as if it were actually a serious argument. I can’t feed my family by throwing money at the grocery store either. How true it is. But I do have to spend money to buy groceries. And we have to spend money to train and hire and keep professionals to educate our children. There is no magic that gets around that.
It's a great speech. Please read the whole speech and share it with your family, friends and colleagues.

Thank you Rep. Frederick for speaking truth to power - I hope more state legislators AND Governor Kitzhaber will stand with you on behalf of Oregon's children and the future of our great state.

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