Friday, November 2, 2012

Where Our Money is Going--Not to Kids!

Of course, funding is an issue, but where's the money going?
 Oregon’s Education Funding Team Recommendations:  Let’s Run Some Numbers   

by Tom Olson of Oregon Save Our Schools        

Earlier this year, Governor Kitzhaber appointed an “Education Funding Team” to recommend investments in public education.  The Team has now unveiled a set of  recommendations crafted in six secret meetings, under the direction of a covey of highly-paid private consultants.  Kitzhaber ordered the Funding Team meetings to be closed to public scrutiny. (Salem Statesman-Journal, June 9, 2012). 

The Oregon Education Investment Board has now held six “public forums” around the state to get public reaction.  Reaction has been overwhelmingly incredulous and negative. 

Here are few numbers that might explain the reasons for the public outrage:

“$ 0”—that’s the amount of increase the Funding Team is recommending for state basic school support for the next biennium.  NOTHING!  The only investments proposed by the Funding Team are in more state bureaucracy and “order-giving.”  This Team apparently wasn’t bothered about the $3 billion gap between current funding and Quality Education level funding! Nor did they blink at the “F” grade given Oregon’s public education funding effort by a new national study by Rutgers University.  Nor did they worry that 7,000 teachers have been laid off in the past two years.  And apparently they’re quite satisfied that Oregon now ranks #37 among the states in per pupil funding (down from 15th a decade ago)

$225,000 ----that’s the amount of the private consultants’ generous state contract to run the 6 secret Funding Team meetings to craft the recommendations.  That’s a per-meeting consultant cost of $37,000!  Want another number?  $300----that’s the allowable per-hour consultant rate under this state contract.

“$100,000 and up”---that’s the salary level of five of eight of the new state bureaucrats hired by “Chief Education Officer” Rudy Crew  Remember also that Crew’s salary is  $280,000 per year plus an unbelievably generous array of benefits.

$50 million”---that’s the Funding Team’s recommended  “investment” in a state-run “longitudinal data system” that is incomprehensible---even to the Investment Board!  Maybe it’s incomprehensible because the system is  being designed by highly paid and out-of-touch consultants.

Gov. Kitzhaber and Dr. Rudy Crew need to listen to the voices of those who work closest to kids as well as the students themselves.  Based on testimony from around the state, such voices are clearly advocating for a much different set of priorities than what is coming out of the OEIB Funding Team. We need to hold them accountable for what we want for OUR public schools. Contact your legislators and tell them you are concerned.  Many voices of the public spoke to these issues--issues the Education Funding team are ignoring: class size, well-rounded programs such as library media specialists, art, music, PE, drama, and sports; more authentic assessments rather than high-stakes testing, no need for tracking student data--students are human beings, not numbers; more resources for our teachers, wrap-around services to help alleviate the effects of poverty, best practices in ELL and SPED services, and make college affordable!

Money should be going into our kids' classrooms not in the pockets of more bureaucracy!

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