Advocates and defenders of the status quo education system wasted no time in calling for increased funding. Betsy Miller-Jones, executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association, writes in her Oregonian op-ed “Revenue reform in Oregon: It’s time to boost investment in public education" (here):
During the past year, Gov. John Kitzhaber has led a statewide conversation about building a "seamless, unified system for delivering education" -- a system that wrings every last ounce of value from every tax dollar.
That conversation has culminated with the 2012 Legislature's approval of his plan to reorganize public education and require achievement compacts that enable school districts and community colleges to do a better job of measuring students' achievement.
School board members understand the importance of making every tax dollar count, because they live with the daily challenge of tighter budgets and growing demands. Working as unpaid, elected volunteers, school board members oversee a school system whose share of state funding has plunged during the past decade, while spending for prisons and health care has soared. School boards know how to economize because they've done so much of it out of sheer necessity. Smaller budgets have forced them to cut curricula, lay off teachers and even close schools…..
For this reason, the Oregon School Boards Association has enthusiastically joined the cause to make the public school system more effective and efficient -- capable, in other words, of achieving better results -- before pressing the critical issue of funding.
The time has come, however, to begin a new conversation about how much Oregonians must invest to achieve public schools that can compete successfully on the global stage…….
We must start a new conversation about how to bolster Oregon's investment in preparing children for the demanding jobs of today and tomorrow. Parents, teachers, businesspeople and politicians must start thinking realistically about how to meet this challenge, because nothing is more important to Oregon's future.
Miller-Jones is, I think, imagining a bit of history here and seems to think educational reform is over and done before it has really begun. We are very, very far from having an educational system “that wrings every last ounce of value from every tax dollar.” Oregon has hardly begun to wring the cost efficiencies that more online learning can bring. Not surprisingly, the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA), as far as I know, has not been a leader in calling for a more sensible, cost efficient, statewide system of online education. Nor has the OSBA been a leader in pushing for shifting to a proficiency-based educational system. And, most important to me, the OSBA as well as each and every one of its local school boards have not supported or funded high school study abroad programs. Nor have they expanded Mandarin immersion programs.
Yet Miller-Jones is asking us once again to increase funding for an outdated, inadequate and inefficient school system. Long term we do need to increase funding on education but only after needed changes are made. Otherwise, the needed changes just will not happen.