Restoring a Culture of Excellence is Critical for Oregon Education

One of the greatest moments in a child's life is seen in their eyes on graduation day. Across the state, teachers from kindergarten to high school are working hard every day to ensure this happens for every child. But they can only do this if kids show up ready to learn. Opting out is not the formula for graduation from high school or for a successful life.

Last week's newsletter discussed Kate Brown's flip-flop on kids opting out of federally required tests. A vacillating position that persisted despite the known fact that opting out or low participation rates could cost Oregon schools $300 million in lost federal funds. However, it is not just money we lose when we foster a culture of mediocrity versus excellence.

Excellence in life happens when we show up on time, ready to learn, ready to work, or ready to volunteer. Oregon school absentee rates— especially for Native American students— as reported in this article from Education Week, are deeply concerning. One out of six Oregon students (and one out of three high school students) are chronically absent, and that's on top of the fact Oregon has a shorter school year and, in many cases, shorter school days compared to other states. No wonder Oregon has some of the lower graduation rates in the nation, despite the hard work of our teachers in the classroom and families in the home.

Bud Pierce has a clear message to kids and front-line educators: Attendance and participation matter. From teacher-assigned homework to testing, we all have a responsibility to Oregon's children to create a culture of excellence. The education policies and school funding priorities of Oregon's next governor must reflect this message.

Bud Pierce will make improved school attendance across Oregon a priority, but he won't stop there. Oregon needs more teachers— hundreds, if not thousands of more teachers— in order to reduce class sizes. He will launch a Class Size Reduction Initiative to make sure state funds get to the classroom and to our kids. He will also protect parents' rights to choose the best school for their children. School attendance equals improved graduation rates. It's that simple. If Oregon children are attending schools with reduced class sizes, their test scores will be fine.