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Jun-12-2007 12:20printcomments

Op Ed: Too Little, Too Late, Too Long
Starving Education in Oregon
Kills Any Leadership
For Our 21st Century

“Unforeseen consequences” is no longer an acceptable excuse given centuries of solid proof for educational values-per-dollar invested.

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(BEND, Ore.) - It's not trite to say that children are our future. Or that education pays. But those much repeated lines don't tell the whole story. Here's the rest. If we don't commit ourselves and honestly invest in education, NOW, the dynamic of our very livelihood will change. How far behind is it okay to lag? We are failing the coming generations of Oregonians.

“States that have been successfully using higher education as an economic engine,” points out George Pernsteiner, Oregon’s higher education chancellor, “have made that investment year after year.” The fact of his solid status and right to speak out on this absolutely essential Oregon issue now is without question or cavil.

Any critical examination of history for any leading nation in this 21st Century proves up the practical and profound truth of what Dr. Pernsteiner declares.

His professional and national unquestioned authoritative status demands far more than “due attention”, in Oregon now; and surely reflect key failures in this loosely-run Legislative session --starting with high promises and yet ending in deep disappointment-- with results much lower than expectations built on bipartisan promises.

Continuing events in Earth-locations as widely separated as China and Europe and Scandinavia AND South America make its economic meaning absolutely clear as a loud-clanging alarm bell.

They have, long ago, made sure their solid-force funding is due and payable to build 21st Century accomplishments for which we still seek, right here in this once-leading Western State.

That indefensible lack of essential funding --derived from incoming gains heavily positive in any rational evaluation for educational enterprise-- precludes such 19th Century policy-and-action failures.

But who’s listening, in Oregon, now? Surely not our ostensibly-representative Legislature, leaving town with the larger part of their demanded assignments still incomplete.

They depart for still-another desperately-contended campaign to come with the work-already-at-hand and publicly-demanded far from finished --or even started-- for major key components; such as corporate tax reform we all know deep within us represents the essential operational return to rational State funding.

“Seventy years is TOO LONG!” most Oregonians will agree, contemplating the consequences of those lost-millions (or BILLIONS?) NOT paid by Oregon participants in business and industry, all that time; while making sure of profit and further production and business advances built on developing technologies.

“Too Little” and “Too Late!” follow --almost automatically and inevitably, presaging solid fears of consequential damage to the whole State economy in coming years. “Unforeseen consequences” is no longer an acceptable excuse given centuries of solid proof for educational values-per-dollar/invested.

Ironically, those very technologies come from creativity and leadership built essentially on the foundation of strong personal and professional characteristics; definitely developed through the very processes-of-learning we are failing to provide NOW for coming generations of Oregon leadership; in every aspect of our 21st Century lifestyle.

We have no choice.

Other states and nations are already well in the lead, while we squander away what time is left with a quarreling and confrontational Legislature --leaving town to quarrel some more.

Political shibboleths from the 19th Century are so obviously shameless and outmoded today that they condemn any user to non-credibility, simply by that fact.

Many are still shouted out at every occasion, revealing only the deep, desperate personal-motivation drive of the user to support and strengthen economic and social policies long discarded by most rational, reasonable problem-solving participants today.

One never heard now is the deeply-disturbing defiant-tone demand that “education should be available only to the elite and propertied”, since its “only purpose is to prepare the lower classes to serve their betters.”

“Equality-of-opportunity as a major human right” slowly prevailed over that royalist-related demand; for which we can still give thanks --even though today, in some unenlightened political circles, it is still not clearly, cleanly, rationally understood and strongly supported.

“There’s no political possibility of action NOW!” shout --always then suggesting still more delay-- is another such anomaly; intended to bring on desperate defeat for what is clearly not only now-“possible” but reflects the true will of the people themselves,.

First used by those defending slavery, and continuously applied for more than a century, it was finally --and most devastatingly-- defeated; by the desperate drive a a nation split by nefarious and malign influences, yet determined to “do what was moral, massively-needed and clearly right-action for all”.

Most Americans today still believe in “the American Dream”, which includes not only “equality under the law”, but extends and expands that human right to include “equality of opportunity”, too.

There can hardly be any question --in this current 21st Century-- that most Oregonians today find it hard to continue belief and support in the American Dream --given the thirty-year record of our ostensibly representative assembly in making sure it is supported, protected and strengthened by actuality --and the “Wings” it takes to make it “Fly!”

Most Oregonians --even against the current odds!-- still believe in that American Dream, as shown by their ongoing demands for opportunity and a better life for each and every child they produce.

Solid, sensible, rational and reasonable state program funding is surely still the major essential strongest driving force for any and all components of that Dream --most especially including education from K-12 and on to higher education.

Here are the indisputable facts on funding for Oregon higher education now:
1. Eighteen percent rise in budget merely keeps up with general budget - does NOT provide make-up monies lost in previous years.
2. We now stand “45th among states in per-student spending.”
3. Oregon has allowed “25 years of disinvestments in higher education” --with this rise “only starting recovery from deep cuts over the last four years.”
4. Oregon “wound up cutting faster and deeper than any other state in recent years.”
5. In two decades Oregon higher education :”collapsed from 20 percent of the overall State budget to just 10 percent.”

Have YOU had enough yet? What “equal opportunity” now awaits your child in Oregon education --not only community college and higher, but in K-12, too?

Do YOU agree that “Too Little, Too Late, Too Long” still prevails with our ostensible “representative assembly”? Too late and too little will kill off ANY project pretending to build leadership.

That includes ANY State so dis-Enlightened as to allow such malign and destructive purposeful action to continue, by ANYone.

“She Can Fly WITHOUT Wings!” may well become the new Oregon State slogan.

This Legislature seems to think that will really work -- and continues to deny us all the overdue resources clearly owed and available -- after SEVENTY YEARS of corporate “$10 minimum tax.”


Reader’s Note: The Pernsteiner quote and other essential information is from “Higher Education”; David Sarasohn: The OREGONIAN; 6/10/O7, as are key numbers used. Other similar materials are from Big O Edit “A higher ed budget to build on”; 6/7/07. Quotations are verbatim, shortened, or summarized; all sources available on request. Key statements re educational history and essential philosophy come from OrDeptEd. Conference Report: PROGRAMMED LEARNING; 1964; Keynote: Peter H. Odegard. Professor, Political Science, UCal.-Berkeley. His Keynote establishes the overwhelming investment value of educational funding at all levels for leadership building, in a statement widely quoted ever since, apparently not known or understood by some in this representative assembly although in wide distribution for more than 40 years. More than 60 items documenting statements made here are on file, too numerous to list, available on request.

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Raven June 13, 2007 10:58 pm (Pacific time)

No matter how much money Oregon throws at education, the system will not improve. It has been the same since I grew up here. For too many years the "system" has shown us that it cannot be trusted with money.

Henry Ruark June 13, 2007 3:35 pm (Pacific time)

B-w et al: "budget (as in "fund") n. : a sum of money allocated for a particular purpose; "the laboratory runs on a budget of a million a year". You assume OOG funds WILL all be assigned and used. That's a great program worth much more-yet--but hardly to be considered part of higher ed funding in all reality. In turn, how much is now all gone just to pay off enforced tuition-and-fee costs, from prior depredations ? Why not ask how much MORE could be accomplished if we bind up bleeding wound of that obscene "$10 minimum" now 70 YEARS OLD ?!!?

Bewildered June 13, 2007 8:04 am (Pacific time)

Hank, Are you giving credit for the additional $47 million pumped into the Oregon Opportunity Grant in your figures? Nearly all that money also goes to Higher Ed or Community Colleges and many less thorough investigators has been ignoring this nearly 75% increase in a budget that also should count towards any reasonable person's calculus of total new dollars going into post-secondary education.

Henry Ruark June 12, 2007 4:07 pm (Pacific time)

"See also" this from OCPP at Hope for Lifetime Learning: Tens of Thousands of Low-Income Oregon Students Considering College Need Congress to Revamp Higher Ed Tax Credits "Approximately 43,000 low-income high school-age Oregonians - about one of every five children age 14 to 17 in Oregon - cannot expect to get help with future college tuition costs through federal higher education tax credits unless Congress fixes the credits, according to a new study." That situation builds still further necessity for State funding restoration with very obvious next-step tax-reform demanded --sooner or later,after SEVENTY YEARS !-- by "representative assembly".

Henry Ruark June 12, 2007 7:13 am (Pacific time)

To all: "See with own eyes" in press reports today on addition to the community college budget - bringing it just into line with overall 18% now set for all-else in the State's general budget. Here's what it really means from Big O report today: "Last week, the same 10-member panel voted to increase state funding for Oregon's seven public universities by the same percentage. In both cases, legislators said the increase isn't enough to catch up to previous underfunding of higher education. "It is with great regret that I see the budget for community colleges going out at this level," said Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, who added he's watched for four sessions as community colleges and work force development took "a horrible beating." "Oregon's community colleges boast the second highest tuition rates in the West. The average annual in-state tuition and fees has climbed from $1,943 in 2001 to $3,074, which is higher than the national average and triple the cost at California's community colleges."

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