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Sep-13-2006 09:50printcomments

Op Ed:
Education Policies
Draw Public Analysis
As Court Action Continues

Oregonians Want Honest Answers - Not More Salami-Slices.

Kids crossing street

(SALEM) - In our previous Op Ed (published 9/9) we outlined the background of the actual public-record scores reporting Oregon's educational status right now.

You now KNOW for sure --from solid statistics summarized from sources beyond reasonable doubt-- that Oregon has deprived a whole generation of its children and youth of their Constitutional right to reasonable educational opportunity.

The funding obligation demanded for reasonable, rational learning resources has been refused, over and over again, by our Legislature. (“Deadbeat Legislature”, Alan Pittman, Eugene WEEKLY 6/8/06)

Legislative chiselings off the childhood/youth educational budgets may prove to have been more than $1.8 BILLION documented for this biennium alone.

Some estimates place Legislative withholdings near the $1 TRILLION mark from its beginnings --when Oregon’s economy was BOOMING: Between 1990 and ‘98, despite a flourishing economy, per-pupil funding was slashed TWENTY PERCENT (inflation-adjusted).

Frustrated parents have joined 16 school boards in taking this desperate Oregon deficiency directly to Court for complete investigation. They demand justice for children suffering educational damages incurred.

The Multnomah Co. Circuit Court suit seeks to force the Legislature to act rapidly to prevent still further damages impacting others required to attend schools deeply deficient by the Legislature’s own lawfully-enacted standards.

Thirty-eight other States have already sued-likewise --with results proving the provenance of open attack on “the single opportunity every child has for a proper start in life”: Twenty-one have already secured solid remedies in their States with more cases pending, expected to provide sane solutions for their deprived and damaged learners, too.

The time has come for all Oregonians to know the truth; so that truth can set our children and youth free AGAIN to pursue their American rights to the once-celebrated Oregonian lifestyle; and the “pursuit of happiness” as they come to see it.

Gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton has set forth several bland generalities as his long-promised “educational policies.” They are, each and every one, typically without any working details and offer only acceptable basic direction while avoiding any responsible relation of how to get there.

Let’s look at each one and analyze what is really at stake and where the generality-stated will inevitably demand Legislative action to supply further funding NOW and still more for future needs...all necessary to make good on deficiencies the ongoing Court suit may force the State to remedy -- or lose huge amounts of federal funding.

(Saxton Education Proposals from “Education takes key campaign role”; David Steves; The REGISTER-GUARD, Eugene; 9/6/06; for website,new 9/11,

“1. Create a rainy day fund.”

The only way that can happen is to embargo the corporate “Kicker”-refund millions AND end the corporate tax-burden shift onto individual-Oregonian shoulders.

BUT Saxton is PLEDGED to ATR (and Grover Norquist) to oppose ANY tax rise, of ANY kind, under ALL circumstances...and either action will surely be seen as “a tax rise” --as the Oregon press has already stated.

For “rainy day” concept, see “Measure 48 would be a financial straitjacket”; Ron Eachus; STATESMAN JOURNAL Edits, p.7C; 9/11; and S-N Op Ed)

“2. Retain new teachers through higher pay and mentoring.”

The only way that can happen --since it is professionally impossible without added funding-- is to embargo the corporate “kicker”-refund millions AND end the corporate tax-burden shift onto individual-Oregonian shoulders.

BUT that is already well underway via incumbent Governor Kulongoski’s detailed plan already seeking Legislative support and building on actions in place now. (See “Governor Unveils Plan to Strengthen Public Schools, Higher Ed”; Salem-News 9/11. Check in Archives if not still on web-pages.)

“3. Reward teachers for performance, not seniority.”

The only way that can happen is for SOMEbody to evaluate WHAT is “performance” and what is NOT --surely demanding very careful professional assessment --and consensus on criteria, again sure to create confrontation and delay.

WHO will decide WHAT and HOW then becomes the main controversial question, sure to build MORE delay, MORE chaos and MORE confrontation; thus costing considerably more; as experience across the nation has already shown.

(See Op Ed preceding this one: “Saxton Seeks Education Actions Delayed, Thus Denied”; Salem-News 9/9; or in Archives.)

BUT rational action to encourage and strengthen teachers is also included in the Kulongoski plan; if the Legislature has the will and wisdom, they can add to that operational proposal --without waiting for another from a delayed-starter.

“4. Pool purchasing power of multiple school districts.”

No question this should happen OR be extended, since already underway in some situations.

BUT know already: Costs more, demands careful management, depends on more technology also demanding more capital expenditure; thus depends primarily on piled-up dollars still not deep enough for essentials demanded by law and by matching requirements for billions in federal funding otherwise “left on the table.”

“5. Invest in higher education.”

See Gov. Kulongoski’s plan already professionally prepared for Legislative examination, consensus and rational action. (“See with own eyes” Oregon press-published AP-story 9/11 “Fewer grads in Oregon attend state universities” documenting tuition increase of SEVENTY-TWO PERCENT since 1997.)

“6. Reduce school districts’ health care costs.”

Without detailed magic manipulation most probably beyond even a corporate counsel, this will never happen without either slashing district-worker benefits or enacting health-care-for-all to replace the current Oregon plan.

Trends and industry encrusted in own profit-seeking preclude anything even the Legislature can do. (See Op Ed 9/5 “Managed Care - But For Whom ?” in Salem-News Archives.)

SO where does that leave us -- and Oregon education ? We will certainly see when the political-cult remnants of the real political parties we once had return again to “the Salem Arena”

Will it be further frustration for most Oregonians from still more confrontation and planned-delay; muscled and moved AGAIN by “transactional lobbying” and those lavish corporate “campaign contributions” ?

Depends upon whom we place in that Governor’s command-chair.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

eqriddler September 16, 2006 2:53 am (Pacific time)

Hank, OK. But the only agenda I have is in the truth which means exploring the validity of government public schools currently under state program control. But I'm sure that's the only program to which you are refering. Even so, I will dismantle it and provide lucid calculation.

HANK RUARK September 15, 2006 1:26 pm (Pacific time)

EQ: Limiting to essentials here; merit-pay, school-choice, privatization, are all code-words for distorted concepts used by Norquist cabal to attack state programs...will take up each in upcoming Op Ed, for evaluation by all out there.

Hank Ruark September 15, 2006 12:26 pm (Pacific time)

EQ: Yours has the ring of ultimate truth...and you understand that there are limitations on lenght and handling-time demanded on website production, NOT faced by much simpler press-runs stuff. So will again reassure you Tim will NEVER withhold any response for any but irremediable reasons; and we will both guarantee you full, open, professional and balanced consideration for anything you mail to postal address. For obvious reasons, with oncoming rush of sometimes mentally unbalanced, do NOT show here my email address, but will do so immediately via mail -- for ANYone with reason to reply rationally.

eqriddler September 15, 2006 11:23 am (Pacific time)

I opined loquaciously on the merits of school choice then clicked on the "Leave a comment" button below. It happened to be quite a case in opposition to your hard fought treatise and quite inspirational. I know the depths of emotion that can attach the soul to hard fought experiences and leave one with a profound sense of worth or lack. Risking THAT comfort zone is discarding that comfort for the hope and benefit of something more important than self. I should remember that myself sometimes but I will reignite my intensity and bring to bear the fantastic delineations of pure truth seeing you didn't know it got misplaced and I got it wrong that you made it go away because you didn't approve.

Hank Ruark September 15, 2006 9:32 am (Pacific time)

EQ: Dunno where or to-whom you sent your stuff...but if you send it to S-N now, will welcome it by referral directly to Tim. Can't promise publication --not my decision-- but ALWAYS wselcome dialog-materials and CAN add to mine own responses. DO believe 1st Amendment means damned-well what it says, even if monopoliy-driven press refuses to recognize that.

eqriddler September 15, 2006 1:37 am (Pacific time)

Hank, can I say something that opposes your deep seated belief in the status quo. You know I won't be sarcastic or demeaning; I just want portray something as good that you don't think is good. But I have to ask since I was wonderfully thoughtful before on this subject and with no explicit reason was denied publication. You don't have to print this request, just mention it in your comment.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.