Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

An influential group of business and political leaders just completed their fifth annual Oregon Leadership Summit last week. Those in attendance agreed that sustainability should be the hallmark of Oregon’s economic future. Last year the rallying cry was about improving public education, but this year the group seemed to have little new to say about how to improve Oregon’s education system.

The Governor is proposing a $750 million-plus increase in the next state K-12 education budget, but as an Oregonian analysis recently revealed, most of that increase will never reach the classroom. It will be eaten up in salary increases, rising employee health costs, PERS pension contributions, and higher prices for supplies and services.

Even if the extra cash were able to reduce class sizes, hundreds of econometric studies document that there is little correlation between increased spending on education and better outcomes. Giving more money to the same education bureaucrats responsible for the system’s current state won’t likely help.

Past business efforts to help education aren’t model solutions either. “Adopt-a-school” programs, public-private partnerships and other cooperative ventures may help isolated students or classrooms, but they were not designed to fundamentally improve public schools, and they haven’t.

Business leaders must recognize that a sustainable economy won’t do much good if the workers and consumers in it are poorly educated. These leaders should understand that the best way to improve education is to apply the lessons they learn every day in the marketplace: that competition breeds quality, that investment without productivity is wasteful, and that producers must be accountable to consumers. Adapting these lessons to the classroom is how business can make sure that a sustainable economy is also a productive economy for business, labor and consumers alike.

Steve Buckstein is the Senior Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

© 2007, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply


Other Publications by Steve

More Tax Dollars for College ― Or Prepare Students to Succeed There?

Steve Buckstein | October 16, 2014
Oregon voters are being asked this November to authorize spending more tax dollars to help some students afford an arguably unaffordable higher education. Measure 86 ...  read more

Dissing Online Education

Steve Buckstein | October 15, 2014
One can imagine that blacksmiths and buggy whip makers didn’t take kindly to the automobile revolution that started in the late 19th century. Those at ...  read more

No Death Panels Here―Yet

Steve Buckstein | September 24, 2014
ObamaCare mastermind Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel recently published an Atlantic magazine essay explaining why he hopes to die at age 75, which for him is eighteen ...  read more

More On These Topics

2014 Fall Newsletter

Cascade Policy Institute | October 30, 2014
See what Cascade Policy Institute has been up to in the Fall of 2014 in our latest newsletter.  read more

$15 Minimum Wage? More May Turn Out to Be Less

Kathryn Hickok | October 29, 2014
Last summer, Seattle passed an ordinance raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour. A Portland-area restaurant owner recently explained in The Oregonian how a ...  read more

Scaling Down: The Power of One

Cascade Policy Institute | October 27, 2014
By Darla M. Romfo Earlier this fall I had the pleasure of attending the awards ceremony for the Broad Prize for Urban Education. In the ...  read more