Education is an issue on the minds of many Oregonians in the wake of Gov. Kate Brown's re-election. Brown has proposed a $2 billion investment in education, including $794 million to reduce class sizes and lengthen the school year and $133 million to fully fund Measure 98.
Measure 98, passed in November 2016, is otherwise known as the Oregon State Funding for Dropout Prevention and College Readiness Initiative. It requires the Legislature to fund dropout prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools.
What was viewed by some as the previous failure of state government to properly fund education has raised concerns from both political parties and school boards across the state.
Recently, the Newberg School District board of directors approved two draft resolutions – one by the Oregon School Boards Association and the other by the Newberg Education Association – that speak out in favor of additional state school funding.
The OSBA resolution urges support for its "Oregonians for Student Success" advocacy initiative, which promotes stronger classroom funding, improved graduation rates, more career and technical education and smaller class sizes. The resolution by the Newberg Education Association echoes many of the same sentiments and received enthusiastic approval from the school board.
"Since Measure 5 passed in 1990, education funding in Oregon has been woefully insufficient," NEA President Gail Grobey said. "We wanted to make sure that the message gets to the Legislature and to voters that this is critically important to all of us, and we wanted to have the school board on our side because we all want the same thing."
Grobey said there is bipartisan agreement among Oregonians that education needs more funding. How the state should approach that, however, has been the subject of contentious debate for decades.
The largest point of contention is increased property taxes – something Measure 5 aimed to cap and prevent. The Republican minority in the Legislature want to keep a lid on taxes of any kind.
Democrats have supermajorities in Salem, though, so they can pass new tax measures without help from the other side of the aisle.
But if they choose to reverse the effects of Measure 5 and utilize property taxes as a funding mechanism, it will surely draw the ire of conservatives.
Grobey commented that some folks in Yamhill County and throughout the state have to be willing to put up with changes they don't like if the result is increased education funding. The long-term benefits, she said, outweigh the short-term costs.
"Kids have been making the sacrifices for too long and they haven't had the resources to adequately learn," Grobey said. "It's time for the adults to make some sacrifices for the betterment of our children and our state."
Having the full support of the school board adds to the OSBA's momentum on the issue and reassures the NEA that it has the backing of its community, Grobey said. She added that the future of education in Oregon now rests with lawmakers as they mull their next move on education funding.
"I was really happy with the way the board received our resolution and I was happy they were willing to look so carefully at the OSBA resolution," Grobey said. "It was thrilling that they signed both – that made me happy."
Cultural center holds creative writing contest
The Chehalem Cultural Center invites children, youth and adults from Yamhill County to submit works of prose or poetry to a creative writing contest. Winning entries may be part of the "Paper Gardens" book produced Arts Alliance of Yamhill County every year, which contains works from writers around the area.
The fiction and non-fiction prose categories have a 1,000-word maximum, while poetry can be traditional, free verse or haiku and is limited to two poems per entry.
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