portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts oregon & cascadia

economic justice | education | youth

The big lie of Oregon politics

Here we go again. School districts are damned if they budget for adequate funding and a full school year, and damned if they don't. Williams and Kevin Mannix, the leader of the Republican Party, claim with straight faces that Oregon can slash $800 million in spending and not hurt schools or kids.
Editorial, The Oregonian, September 17, 2003
The big lie of Oregon politics

The anti-tax, anti-government activists eager to overturn the Legislature's tax surcharge and strip another $800 million from the state budget are trotting out a new version of an old, familiar lie in Oregon politics: Schools won't be hurt.

The latest misrepresentation is that Oregon school districts and their students won't suffer cuts if voters kill the Legislature's tax plan, which includes $400 million for schools. ". . . Our point of view is, schools aren't depending on the money," claims Jason Williams of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon. "They already budgeted to live without the money before this tax was passed."

In fact, most districts are planning for and depending on a state school budget considerably larger than $4.8 billion, which is what Oregon will have to spend on schools if Williams and his allies in the Republican and Libertarian parties succeed in forcing a vote and killing the Legislature's tax plan.

A spot survey by the Department of Education found that Klamath Falls and Tigard-Tualatin school districts have assumed a $5.2 billion state school budget. Salem and North Clackamas are planning for about $5 billion. Springfield assumed a $4.95 billion level of support. Medford, $4.98 billion.

Meanwhile, some school districts have planned for a worst-case budget scenario. One of them is Coos Bay, which reports that it would be forced to cut 19 days from its school year if the state school budget falls to $4.8 billion. We'll grant Jason Williams this much: Coos Bay isn't depending on the tax surcharge to balance its budget.

It's only depending on it to deliver a full school year.

By now, voters ought to know better than to fall again for the seductive line that they can safely reject or reduce any tax without concern for their schools. This is the lie spun a decade ago by sponsors of Measure 5, the property-tax limit. It's akin to the "secret plan" that GOP lawmakers promised to protect schools while urging voters to reject Measure 28 in January. The rest is history: Voters shot down the measure, the Republicans kept their secret and Oregon became known far and wide for closing its schools early.

Here we go again. School districts are damned if they budget for adequate funding and a full school year, and damned if they don't. Williams and Kevin Mannix, the leader of the Republican Party, claim with straight faces that Oregon can slash $800 million in spending and not hurt schools or kids.

Don't believe it. Before you sign one of their petitions, remember this: They have no plan -- secret or otherwise -- to protect schools from cuts. They have nothing more than the same tired line: Schools will be fine, just fine.

homepage: homepage: http://www.oregonlive.com/editorials/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/editorial/1063800132273470.xml

The Sad Reality 17.Sep.2003 16:47

of school funding

is the PERS retirement system. Every year more of the total budget for schools goes not to the students, not to the classrooms, not to the administrators, but to the retired school employees. The PERS system, which allows many to retire at equal to or more than their working salary is bankrupting the State of Oregon. Measure 29, the PERS refinancing, does not cure the problem. It only delays the problem. Our school funding problems will not be truly solved until PERS is reformed. Without PERS reform, the amount of revenue available from taxes will never be enough for adequate funding. It's simply impossible to keep up with the pension costs.

? 19.Sep.2003 00:22

boonplod monotomi@hotmail.com

the school system cant be fixed, no matter how much money you pump into it... what needs to be done is strip all of the useless programs, (cim/cam ANY form of national or state testing is completely counter productive). Stuff like that, free up funding for more teachers.

also, the restrictions for becoming a teacher should be LESSENED, the amount of schooling you need to become a certified teacher in oregon is INSANE overkill (masters degree to teach 4th grade?... why?).

my main point is this, you can only teach a person so much, and only so much is actually usefull and practical. There is no real way to teach someone anything, all you can do is provide them with information, and hope that whatever incentive you do give them, coupled with their own wish to learn, will get them through. The only things that really require being taught are math/science, writing/reading, BRIEF history... typing and computers should be used when needed, (but teaching specific programs or technology is useless at the rate that it advances)... electives should still be in place: music, art, theatre, vocational (wood/metal shop)... but the priority should be (more) teachers, at the level that the schools are at now, it doesnt matter how educated a teacher is, because all (s)he ends up doing is being a babysitter, there are too many kids, and there is no way (s)he could ever get down to actual education...

but in the end, i really dont see any problem with less school funding, but only because i support the idea of a class war, and the more the government fucks up, the more the next generations will grow up disscontent, leading them to be awakened to the fact that they are the slaves of the ruling class....

tom knowles

and about PERS 19.Sep.2003 00:46


yeah, but one of the main reasons why PERS is so fucked, is because teachers make NOTHING while they are actually employed, the only real incentive for them is the fact that after they work thanklessly for 30 or so years, they can retire and finally live a near standard way of life. most teachers make something between 20-30,000 a year, thats on salary, meaning no overtime. So you have a large amount of teachers working countless hours of unpaid overtime, paying for any supplies the district wont cover (which can be substantial), and having no real incentive to keep working except retirement.
(And dont start on the (well only people who love children and helping children) should be teachers, because being a teacher in oregon today really has nothing to do with teaching, its about keeping up standards so that your school doesnt lose funding (cim/cam other bullshit testing), its about keeping 30+ kids in line all of the time... its about everything except actually opening new minds to thought. The only reason why anyone should really want to teach, is to further democracy, to further the idea that all people deserve and can take part in their own government... but people for some reason romanticize it, as if humans werent just overgrown apes...)

that brings me to the inherant flaw of democratic education, in a democracy, people are free to live as they please (supposedly), and for the most part, parents want their children living by theirown standards. That causes problems in the schools (religeous, racial, whatevah) that teachers have to deal with. and there is no solution to that problem, other than getting rid of schools or ignoring certain groups beliefs.

So why do people think that schools can solve any problems? They are just there to provide a BASIC education, as it is up to the family and exterior community to fill the rest of that void, iam of the belief that people rely FAR too heavily on the school sysytem, as if it was something that could educate people on EVERY aspect of their life, but all schools can teach are math, science, writing, reading, basic history (otherwise it just become propoganda)... there is nothing else to know in the world that isnt in some way spiritual, holding to the fact that it can only be attained through personnal journey... and why should schools be standardized? schooling is a way of passing on culture, why should the culture across the entire country be standard? if we want to have individual communities across this country, individual school districts have to be free to choose what and how they will teach their students.... and not have to answear to any national power about it.

and i appologize for the poor punctuation, and the rambling nature of this post...

o, but yes, PERS does need to be reformed 19.Sep.2003 00:47


but so do teachers salaries and class sizes