Saturday, February 25, 2017

Letter to Joint Subcommittee on Education re. Chief Education Office and Cost Saving Efficiencies SB 5522

Oregon Save Our Schools member Pat Muller, who is also a long time educator, penned this letter last week to the Joint Subcommittee after a presentation to them on SB 5522, which would appropriate over $7 million to operations of the Chief Education Office. This presentation in support of the bill to fund the Chief Education Office was given by the Chief Education Officer. The bill also allots another nearly $4 million from the General Fund to the Statewide Longitudinal Data System which tracks all kinds of data about students  (more on that at a later date).

Here is the letter which Ms. Muller sent to the Joint Subcommittee on Education after watching the presentation.

Dear Chairs Monroe and Smith Warner and Members of the Committee:

I had a flashback while watching the presentation of the Chief Education Office.  You could have wound the tape back a couple of years and heard the exact same presentation from Nancy Golden saying the exact same things.  I am asking:  What is the bang for my buck?  How are the activities of this office trickling down to the students in my classroom?  What is the hidden agenda of this mess?

I resent the veiled message that I am hearing constantly.  

1.     Mr. Capps is eager to point out that we have the worst absenteeism in the nation. I have gone in my car to pick up students before school, bought bicycles for those too far to walk, talked with law enforcement, worked with the homeless liaison, namely moved heaven and Earth for my kids and then I hear Mr. Capps saying I might not be captivating enough to make kids want to come to school!  I would invite Mr. Capps and whoever else would like to come to visit my after school program to see engaged ELL students. In a way, I can understand why a student would want to stay home with all the high stakes assessments and focus on tested subjects taking away time for other content areas that make kids want to stay in school. 

2.     Mr. Capps is always pointing out our graduation rate is poor.  Looking at recent history there is an easy explanation.  We increased the requirements for graduation.  We implemented more difficult and developmentally inappropriate standards.  We cut programs while at the same time dumping unfunded mandates on schools.  We implemented a high stakes testing system that doesn’t inform instruction.

3.     Mr. Capps stated we have a seamless system of education.  Rubrics provided last session by his office showed little or no growth in most indicators. Where is the evidence that shows we indeed have this system in place?

4.     Mr. Capps refers to his office as a think tank.  We already have a plan for what is the best thing to do for kids and that is the Quality Education Model.  Now we are thinking of making another committee to amend the model.  That makes no sense, as we never funded the previous model so how can we know that it needs updating?  Even if we had a lot of money, I would not fund to fund a think tank.

There is no need for me to elaborate further as the presentations given by Mr. Capps clearly document the poor achievement of his office.  

We are looking for how to save money and the answer is obvious.  Let’s move up the sunset of the Chief Education Office from 2019 to 2017 and while we are at it, get rid of the Smarter Balanced test that is a waste of money and instructional time.

Looking at SB 5522, it shows the appropriation of the Chief Education Office and Statewide Longitudinal Data System to be over $10 million.  Moving the sunset could go a long way to closing that opportunity gap.  We already have a detailed autopsy report on how we are leaving students behind and don’t need more data.

Thank you for your consideration.