Monday, October 15, 2012

Oregon SOS October 9th Testimony to OEIB

by Tom Olson

My Name is Tom Olson and I am speaking for Oregon Save Our Schools

My testimony addresses recent activity of Rudy Crew and the OEIB on the subject of Achievement Compacts with Oregon’s k12 school districts

Last year the Obama Administration offered waivers regarding NCLB performance if States would, among other requirements, create a system of ‘Achievement Compacts’ between the state and each educational unit within the state.

The Governor requested legislation that would permit achievement compacts to function in the statewide education system. Senate Bill 1581 is that legislation.

- SB 1581 clearly sets forth that the OEIB was responsible for establishing the form of the Compacts as well as the outcomes and measures of progress that would allow each (district) to quantify progress.

- SB 1581 also requires that the OEIB inform districts of their actual funding level AND the funding that would be ‘full’ funding as identified by the QEM process.

- SB 1581 then places the Compacts and the funding data in the hands of each District and requires the governing body (school board) to identify target numbers and percentages AS PART OF THEIR BUDGETING PROCESS.

In this temporary first year the calendar was not in place and 1) OEIB had not provided the amount of QEM funding in time for district budgeting and  2) Districts did not have previous years statistics to benchmark their achievement compacts which were to be submitted by July 1.

This failure hampered the ability of districts to fulfill the objectives of SB 1581.

Unbelievably, even with this failure, in September, Rudy Crew declared that 69 Achievement Compacts were not acceptable and demanded resubmittal with higher targets.

This is where Oregon SOS moves from criticizing the overall structure of the bill and instead suggests that Mr. Crew, under the auspices of the Governor, is not following the law.
SB 1581 does not provide any authority for his call for resubmittals. The responsibility of setting targets is solely the responsibility of the local school boards. . SB 1581 clearly outlines the authority of the Chief Education Officer as the following:
Section 1 of the Act states that the "direction and control" authority of the Chief Education Officer is "limited to matters related to the design and organization" of the State's education system"
And in Section 14 the Act specifies, "the governing body of the education entity shall set the targets for the outcomes and measures of progress it intends to achieve, and may add other measures approved by the OEIB,"
We believe these two sections clearly show that Mr. Crew is acting outside his authority as specified in SB1581 when he overrides both of these sections by his actions.  
 One of the things our organization observed during our discussions with many legislators since the advent of this bill is that they recognized the strong protections in it for local control. If Mr. Crew is able to act outside of the confines of the law these protections are lost.
             This behavior is not a precedent that can be allowed to stand. The Governor and the OEIB must
             operate within the law as written. Oregon SOS urges the Governor, the OEIB and its officers to
             correct these errors and make sure it does not happen again.

            We know the OEIB does not respond to public testimony and the Governor never stays for this
            testimony but we need to have those assurances either now or later in writing.
            Oregon SOS is open for discussion on these matters as always. Thank you.

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