Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Dismal State of Oregon Schools: Fact Sheet

Oregon Save Our Schools has been following the work of the Oregon Education Investment Board, the application for the No Child Left Behind Waiver, and the develoment of the Achievement Compacts since 2011.  Little, if any, of the development of such education reform efforts have seriously involved any public input.  One major concern we have at Oregon SOS is that funding solutions are "off the table" by those at the top.  However, at all of the OEIB education funding priority forums, the public has voiced that not only IS lack of funding the problem, but also WHERE our state is deciding to spend our limited tax dollars.  Our classrooms continue to suffer while the state dreams up new layers of bureaucracy in order to analyze our students and teachers.  This must stop.  Our children cannot wait another day for the Governor, Dr. Rudy Crew and the OEIB to put off the real education reform discussion they should be having insted: FUNDING reform!  Below is a list our co-founder, Tom Olson, has created that helps illustrate the declining health of Oregon's public school system due to lack of funding and loss of a well-rounded education program.   Contact your legislators and demand better.  Thank you!

Oregon's Education Funding Fact Sheet 

  • Oregon has lost almost 16% of our teachers, teaching assistants, and school maintenance and clerical workers over the past three years
  • From 2010 to 2012 the state lost 7,300 educator jobs.  That represents a drain on Oregon’s economy of more than $500,000,000 (see and further analysis by Our Oregon 
  • Our high school class sizes have soared by 28.6% (Do you think students get individual attention when physics classes have 45 kids?) 
  • Elementary class sizes have increased by more than 19%. (Do we really think 30 + kindergartners in a class meets their needs?)
  • In aggregate, our school districts cut 287 school days in the 2011-12 school year.  (Try helping struggling kids with 15 fewer learning days!).  The aggregate over the past three years amounts to 951 lost days for learning!
  • Oregon’s per student spending has declined from 15th in the nation in 1997-98 to 37rd in 2008-2009.
  • Oregon’s education funding received a grade of “F” in a new national comparative study by Rutgers University’s Education Law Center that examined Oregon’s  very low level  state education funding effort in relation to our State’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value.
  • K-12 schools’ share of Oregon’s state budget has dropped from 44% in 2003-2005 to 39% in 2011-2013
  • Since 2003, Public Education has received less than one-third of the percentage increase that went to public safety. . We spend more on prisons than education.
  • According to the legislature’s own Quality Education Commission (QEM) research, the state is currently $3 billion short this biennieum of what it takes to provide K-12 quality education.
  • The last five years saw a 5% reduction in state spending on K-12 schools. Yet, the state’s total tax breaks grew by 12%.  These breaks amount to over $26 billion..
  • The number of Oregon children living in poverty continues to escalate (now above 25%), and these children have special health and learning needs.  The states’ response?  Ignore this reality and push harder on our educators as the sole “solution.”  This is a travesty that prevents improved achievement across the state.  Research indicates that effectively removing poverty’s barriers to learning through effective “wraparound” health and social services  requires at least1.4 times average per pupil funding.


Data Sources:  State of Oregon Tax Expenditure Reports;  Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office; Our Oregon;  Oregon Education Association Survey of Cut Days; Economic Policy Institute (Richard Rothstein); COSA/OASBO School Budget Surveys, Sept. 2009, 2010 and 2011;  Education Law Center, Rutgers University.

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