By Peter Toll
Our State Supreme Court’s recent reversal of the “grand bargain” deal concerning PERS costs and benefits came as little surprise in some circles. Breaking a contract cannot be cavalierly dismissed by legislators and governors.
Despite the well-meaning attempt to fix a vexing problem, the Oregon Supremes said, sorry, no can do. Go back to square one.
This, of course, prompted major headlines and “in-depth” (read re-hash) reporting on how teachers are overpaid (hardly), and most major school districts—including several in Clackamas County—will face big budget problems in the next biennium. Continue reading
While our website tends to focus on Clackamas County (like no other), we cannot ignore the big picture. Our legislature produces policy concerning the whole state and that includes us.
To that end, we are pleased to present a very well done report citing the need for a major reform to undo the woes imposed upon us by the anti-taxers. “You get what you pay for” is an old axiom which certainly applies now.
In this case, Oregonians are getting what they’re paying for, and it is clearly not enough. Reform is needed.
Our legislature tends to be timid when major reform is afoot, and this situation is no different. Perhaps after we review the facts, some things can be turned around and improved.
By Peter Toll
Many people are gearing up for the regular Oregon legislative session next week. Hundreds of lobbyists are meeting with their clients to put schemes and dreams into law or to protect their positions. Bureaucrats are mulling whether to ignore or cater to the biennial barrage from legislators, the only chance elected officials get to shake a fist at them. Salem is gearing up.
But what about the regular folks? Those in the dwindling middle class in Milwaukie or Sandy, Molalla or Oregon City? What about the one-in-five Oregon children living in poverty? Or the motorist forced to endure the constantly deteriorating roads and highways, the bridges of our county and state? The list goes on and on. Who will represent these people in the fighting and clawing, biting and scratching for new laws? Continue reading
By Peter Toll
State Senate Chamber
Oregonians have made it clear state-wide that they live here or moved here because of our natural beauty, which is enhanced by equally clean air and water, some of the best in the U.S.
People say they are willing, in the same independent Oregon Values survey, to spend money to enhance those qualities that are hallmarks in their way of life. But that’s not all.
Oregonians are equally concerned about the quality of public education we are providing our children. They don’t like it, and they’re willing to pay more to improve it.
So how does that manifest with our Clackamas County legislators? We’ll look at the senators in this report and the House members in subsequent write-ups. Continue reading
Next time someone grumbles that teachers have control of the Legislature, you can answer: If that was the case, why is class size barred by state law from being a bargainable item when teachers negotiate their contracts? That’s sort of like the mail carrier not being allowed to bargain their delivery load at contract time. Clackamas County’s biggest school district, North Clackamas, is one of the most problematic with up to 31 kindergartners (that’s 5-6 year-olds) in one class. Continue reading
By Peter Toll
How can we make public schools in Clackamas County worse than they are?
Two quick approaches come to mind: (1) Encourage kids in poorer schools to transfer to more affluent ones, and (2) Throw a whole bunch more money at charter schools. Fortunately, Oregon school districts can stop part of this poor public policy in its tracks.
Ever since Oregon’s “Open Enrollment” law passed in 2011, students have been allowed to attend school in another district if that district has announced openings.
Touted as “school choice,” it is straight out of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC’s) model legislation (along with vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling). But research shows this destabilizes public education and school finance, and student achievement suffers: students do worse. Continue reading