What education issues will be addressed at the 2020 Legislature?
Lake Oswego School Board Chair Rob Wagner also chairs the Senate Education Committee in the Oregon Legislature.
He said, "(It) provides a fun perspective to be able to take the work that I'm doing at the district level to inform statewide policy and the conversation around the education budget and investment from Pre-K to post secondary."
He explained, "The short session in general is usually pretty limited in terms of what we have to work with." Specifically, Wagner said the short session consists of a few committee bills and one personal bill on the senate side.
Although it's not a big policy session, there will be a few items Wagner will be working on.
"The focus, I think, for short session will be looking at implementation of the Student Success Act (SSA): Making sure that the target investments that came with the unprecedented new investment in education are spent wisely and that districts have the supports they need."
In May, Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 3427, the Student Success Act, into law. SSA aims to correct historical underinvestment in Oregon schools by providing grant money for actions to increase achievement and decrease academic disparities.
"The other piece that I am specifically focused on is college completion through an equity lens," Wagner said.
According to Wagner, a big issue Oregon is facing is the lack of synergy between community colleges and universities. He said a lot of people who are trying to get university degrees will take community college courses thinking the credits will transfer but — due to lack of coordination between what is offered at the community college level and what is accepted at the university level — that's not always the case.
"I think Oregon has a long way to go to join other states on making it a little easier for those credits to transfer. We've made some good progress but I think there's a lot more work to do," Wagner said.
He continued, "We'll be providing some funding for a data clearinghouse to track those credits and then encouraging community colleges and universities to sit down and focus on putting the student at the center of that conversation."
He said other state universities, like Ohio State University and the University of Washington, have made a lot of progress on coordination of credits, progress that is nudging Oregon forward.
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