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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A rally in red, but no one missed school

Written May 8th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Several hundred Albany educators rallied for more funding today, but unlike some other Oregon districts, GAPS didn’t shut down to make the demonstration possible.

For years, Wednesday has been an early-release day in Albany schools. As Ben Black, a spokesman for the Greater Albany Public Schools, told me, schools today let out at 2:45. That gave teachers and other employees 15 minutes to get to the field at Central Elementary School to make it to the 3 p.m. rally.

After half an hour of speeches and sporadic applause, many of the assembly walked a block to the Pacific Boulevard overpass to make their point with passing traffic.

In the video above, the wind plays havoc with the voice of Frank Bricker, the school board member addressing the crowd. But as far as I understood him, he was recounting how programs such as PE and art have been reduced or cut over the years because school funding fell short of what was needed.

Most of the people on the field wore something red. Apparently the color has acquired a new, positive meaning in connection with public education.

Since the subject was funding, I looked up the Albany school budget for 2018-19. All I could find on the GAPS website was the proposed budget, and I assume the approved one wasn’t posted because there was no change in the numbers.

In any case, the district’s general fund, which pays for most of what we consider schooling, is down this year — about $102 million compared to $105 million last year. So the people at the rally have a point.

The overall budget, though, ballooned from $303 million last year to almost $322 million this year. But that includes capital projects, including the many millions for building two new schools and renovating many others. It also includes $9.5 million for a new “transportation facility” or bus barn.

So what does schooling in GAPS cost? The budget shows an expenditure of all funds of about $10,200 per student. The figure is from a table that ends in 2016-17, but presumably the current amount is about the same.

School people around the state are asking the legislature to spend more on schooling. And the majority party is about to pass a billion-dollar-per-year tax on gross sales of $1 million or more, a tax that will affect about 40,000 businesses and their customers. Whether any of that actually leads to more students having greater success, as the proponents expect, is a question nobody can answer until a few more years have passed. (hh)



11 responses to “A rally in red, but no one missed school”

  1. Jason says:

    Have to fix the black hole called PERS first.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Research finds no statistical evidence that spending is an important determinant of student outcome. Teachers can’t argue that more spending will enhance student achievement.

    But they and the politicians in Salem will declare victory after throwing more money at the system.

    It reminds me of a sports team that measures success by the size of their payroll. On field results tell the real story.

    Our outdated “one-sized-fits-all” public education system costs too much and has little to show for it. This has been going on for years now.

    Perhaps it is time to remove “public” from our education system.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      Precisely, and with Art Robinson’s Home Schooling Kit there’s really no need for public schools. Give every kid a free iPad, an internet connection and parents qualified to teach. We can tip the whole system into the dumpster. And don’t worry that the Home-schooled populace will be largely unsocialized. Global warming’s making it uncomfortable to go outside and mingle.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Home schooling is one alternative to sending a kid to a zip-code based “public” school.

        But there are other school choices that need to be expanded: private schools, charter schools, online learning, or a customized learning experience. Heck, I’d even hold my nose and be open to a voucher program.

        But “choice” programs run counter to the one-size-fits all, status quo, “public” education model. School choice programs are NOT supported by folks who are addicted to eating from the public trough and unwilling to try new methods and techniques.

        School choice is best left in the hands of families, not politicians, bureaucrats,, administrators. and union bosses.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      I agree that spending doesn’t correlate to better outcomes. Having the fanciest technology, or better looking buildings is not going to produce a better education for our kids. But the majority of the funding that teachers are demanding are to reduce class sizes, add mental health specialists and more school nurses.

      There is a consensus that smaller class sizes is beneficial for academic achievement: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/24/class-size-matters-a-lot-research-shows/?utm_term=.fc4dc5cb9f62

      Also, adding more funding would allow for implementing preeschool programs that would benefit people with less resources. Investing in Pre-K is a no brainer because it has a fantastic return-on-investment of between $6-$12 per $1: https://www.impact.upenn.edu/our-analysis/opportunities-to-achieve-impact/early-childhood-toolkit/why-invest/what-is-the-return-on-investment/

      So, right now, because our inability to provide these programs, we are not investing in Oregonians that could be scientists, business owners, or skilled professionals, or kids that are falling through the cracks and could have more trade school programs available.

  3. Cheryl P says:

    Here is the problem with the Dems idea of the new tax for schools: It won’t provide MORE funding. Yes, I understand that it will ONLY be used for schools…the big selling point…but what is to stop the State from taking current funding and using it for for other things…like PERS?

  4. thomas cordier says:

    Oregon spends $6Billion on k-12 education already –2/3 from income taxes and 1/3 from property taxes.
    The idea more money will fix the poor academic student achievement is a lie. Often repeated lie by “educated” teachers and administrators is an example of deceit by government employees.

  5. Jeff Senders says:

    FYI-read “$2B school spending bill leaves a lot to be decided.” The Oregonian/OregonLive, Tuesday May 7, by Mike Rogoway.
    What my attorney would call “the fine print.”

  6. craigz says:

    Define…”fully fund” ?!!! To pay unlimited wages, fully fund your nice pensions, build luxury schools, what class size, unlimited supplies….? It is a fair question what does that mean ? What salary do you expect ? Then the BIG question….HOW DO WE PAY FOR IT !!!? That is the problem. The average tax payer gets a 2-3% raise if they are lucky. Our bills (almost all of them) go up far more than that. Property taxes have gone up every year and now the Governor plans on 200 more tax and fee increases. How can we the tax payer afford to fully fund anything as we get poorer and poorer ? Try being retired on a fixed income with a really crappy retirement payment….with everyone else wanting a hand in your wallet !

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    Would a supremacist group be allowed the same consideration to use this property to spout THEIR POLITICAL MESSAGE?

    I had 76 classmates in the 7th grade and 80 in the 8th with ONE NUN!
    I’d willingly test “my” group against your 30 student classes.

    WHAT EXACTLY is K-12? Now that kids can take “apparently” 2 years of college and I have no idea how many years “K” might be, that’s at least 15 years of PERS teacher’s jobs when the taxpayers think they are paying for 12. More PERS jobs = more PERS votes.

  8. J. Jacobson says:

    The facts are simple. Despite all the Commenters’ gripes about over-taxation and school spending, Oregon has one of the worst graduation rates in the entire nation. Nothing to write home about, if you even know how to write.

    Whether one believes there’s a connection between funding and graduation is unimportant. The brutal reality of this fundamental failure stares Oregonians in the face.

    What frightens these Commenters is what the “other” reasons might be that would explain Oregon’s dismal performance in education. If it were only a function of expenditure!

 

 
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