Investing in Our Future
Investing in our education system is an investment in our future. It’s a key part of what’s called the “cycle of prosperity.” We need to prepare Oregon’s kids to take on high-paying jobs, and by creating high-paying jobs, we can successfully fund our struggling educational system.
Early Learning and Success
Studies have proven that the first two years of a child’s life are vital to development. Therefore, we need to ensure children are nurtured in the proper environment so they may be successful down the road. It’s important that our children are prepared for school, so we need to support access to programs such as Head Start and Healthy Start. Furthermore, reading by third grade is critical. SMART tutoring should be maintained to ensure no child reaches the end of third grade without being able to read.
We cannot honestly say that our schools are succeeding here in Oregon. We’ve had decades of failed experiments and false starts, and here we are today leading the nation in drop-out rates. Beyond this, Oregon has one of the shortest school years in the country. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and expect anything different. SOURCE
Increase Investments in Work-Based Learning
We need to increase options for students to participate in work-based learning, apprenticeships, and summer youth employment. This allows our youth to experience a real-world setting. In addition, increasing our investment in Career and Technical Education (CTE) will also help Oregon’s youth and adults learn a wide range of high-skilled and in-demand jobs.
Supporting Our Teachers
Students cannot succeed without good teachers. We need to support our teachers by creating teaching environments that encourage collaboration and peer mentoring and allow teachers to lead the way forward. We need motivated, well-trained teachers who are in front of their classes because they’re the most qualified candidates for the job, not because they’re high in seniority. We need to give them the authority to succeed and hold them accountable. We need more good teachers, and we need to fix the PERS system once and for all to free up resources for the hiring of 2,000 additional teachers across Oregon.
We need more school days—more teacher time with students—whether that involves freeing up more resources or ending unnecessary “in-service” days that have proliferated in recent years.
Keeping Higher Education Affordable
One of the major deterrents youth face when considering higher education is looming college debt. The higher education system needs to become more affordable and accessible to college students, and these students need to be able to find jobs after graduation. Some of the high costs of education result from the limitations and restrictions placed on our public institutions. The 2014 restructuring of the Oregon University System, and the creation of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), will hopefully demonstrate increased independence and create a system of accountability. We should address the cost issue on the front end and back end. How? By creating a low-cost, fast-track college degree for non-traditional higher ed students and by offering tax breaks to low and middle-income Oregonians paying off college debt.