Public education, our students, working parents and businesses, will all be casualties in the battle over the four-day work week.
I have been watching the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and labor unions introduce the concept of a four-day work week with no corresponding reduction in salary or benefits. Now we are seeing a similar trend in Oregon's schools, which are beginning to reduce in-person instructional hours.
The Portland Association of Teachers' latest proposal submitted during contract negotiations would reduce in-person instruction for high schoolers from five days a week to four. This means 20% of classroom learning per year would be lost. Additionally, two hours per week of classroom instruction for elementary and middle schoolers would be eliminated.
Oregon schools rank in the bottom third nationally and reducing classroom instruction time is taking our state in the wrong direction. Moving to a four-day school week would negatively impact our mission to educate all of Oregon's children, regardless of economic status, race, or first language.
For many on the far-left ideology reigns supreme. They know if public schools transition to a four-day in-person school week, many parents would need to follow. If the DSA and the labor unions succeed and businesses and government entities are forced to adopt a four-day work week, the negative consequences would be dramatic. Inflation will skyrocket, and the years of progress in reducing poverty will unravel. The U.S. is already experiencing the lowest workforce participation rate in decades, while 30% of Oregonians are dependent on social services.
I'm a business owner and understand the challenges in attracting and retaining employees. Our public schools are struggling with these same issues: not enough teachers, stressed out staff, and frustrated parents. Much of this has been caused by shortsighted experimental policies, including much longer than necessary school closures during the pandemic and vaccine mandates.
Oregon has been under one-party rule too long and working families now struggle as a result. Oregon's governor must hold the public education system accountable. As your next governor, I will insist districts meet instructional requirements with in-person learning and will limit school closures to actual emergencies.
Under my leadership, public schools will remain in-person five days a week, parents will have more school choice, and students will have a path to success. Oregonians should expect results from the CEO of this state.
Jessica Gomez is a Medford businesswoman and a Republican candidate for governor.
Editor's note: While the teachers union initially proposed using one day a week for asynchronous, or self-led learning in high schools, the union has since stopped negotiating with the district for a change in the 2021-22 school schedule.
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