Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Six Million Dollar Plan (and Counting)...


Times are tough.  Money is tight.  Teachers are losing jobs.  Programs such as music, PE, art, and library are being eliminated.  Class sizes are ballooning.   

Suddenly, you have six million dollars!   

What would you spend it on?  Smaller class sizes?  A music, library teacher, or counselor for your school of 500?  No, that would be too obvious.  Let’s think outside of the box and away from the classroom….miles away.   

Instead, you think what could be better than a room full of adults who dream up new policies, programs, and job duties that will cost just about six million dollars…for starters? 



What?  That doesn’t sound like pure genius?


Well, that is exactly part of the plan put forth by the state as one of their corporate education reforms.  In June 2011, the state got rid of an elected position of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and instead made the Governor in charge. Then a new state bureaucracy, the Oregon Education Investment Board, was built which has done little to provide immediate benefits for our students and teachers in the classroom.



At a time when budgets are hard to pass and teachers’pension reforms are being used as a scapegoat for our budget shortfall, how can this be allowed to happen?  Who is minding the store? 



If six million isn’t enough to make you irked, then realize it won’t stop there.  The Governor, Dr. Rudy Crew, and the OEIB have proposed the following:





So when groups like Stand for Children, the Oregon School Board Association, the Oregon Business Association, and the office of the Governor ask for PERS reforms and education reforms, you have to wonder--why isn’t their primary question this:



 “How can I make sure every possible dollar goes into the classroom to directly benefit the students of our state?”



Sadly, these groups have lost sight of what is best for kids and our public schools, but instead have their sights aimed on promoting the corporate education reform model.  Teachers have been shut out of the discussion.  Parents have been shut out of the discussion.  Students have been shut out of the discussion.  Now it will be up to our legislators to listen to those shut out voices as well as their own values to get back to a more democratic public education system with local control.  We wish them luck.  Their voices may be shut out too.