Sometimes a Little Magic Happens: Public Testimony on HB 3010

Matt WingardCascade Commentary


Public policy advocates often find that spending extended periods at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem can lead to growing cynicism about the public process. But every once in a while, you experience something that restores your faith in what you do. April 5, 2007 was one of those days. I traveled to Salem with a delegation from Portland to testify in support of House Bill 3010.

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Freedom to Choose My School Grants

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Finally, low-income students and their parents will be able to see the Oregon legislature consider a bill that could give them the same access to school choice that higher-income Oregonians already enjoy. House Bill 3010 was submitted at the request of the School Choice Working Group, which is a partnership between the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and Cascade Policy Institute in Portland.

The Freedom to Choose My School Grants bill will create a

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Another Option for School Funding: Selling the Elliott State Forest

John A. Charles, Jr.


School funding has become one of the most intractable policy issues of the past 15 years. As each session of the Oregon legislature convenes, political leaders vow to bring financial stability to Oregon’s K-12 system, but it never happens.

One positive step that could be taken would be to sell the Elliott State Forest and place the proceeds in the Common School Fund (CSF) endowment. The Elliott, potentially worth $1 billion or more on the open market, is currently earning about 3% annual return on asset value (depending on assumptions), and state managers have no realistic plan for increasing returns. Selling the forest and placing the revenue in the CSF would likely result in annual returns in excess of 8% or more. This would generate an additional $40-$60 million annually for schools.

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Testimony on HB 2037

Steve BucksteinBefore the House Education Innovation Subcommittee

in favor of removing restrictions on public charter schools offering online courses

By Steve Buckstein

February 6, 2007

Good afternoon, Chair Komp and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization based in Portland.

As you know, one section of public charter school law ORS 338 requires 50 percent of online charter school students to

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Testimony before the House Select Committee on Education

Steve BucksteinThe Oregon House Select Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Linda Flores, is meeting to consider possible education reform legislation for the next legislative session which begins in January. On September 27, 2006 the committee heard from the Washington Scholarship Fund, which administers both a privately funded and a publicly funded voucher program in Washington, D.C., followed by testimony and discussion with Steve Buckstein and Matt Wingard of Cascade Policy Institute on the concept of school choice.

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Leaving Most Children Behind: Thirty Years of Education Reform at Jefferson

Jefferson High School


In January, 2006, the Portland School Board voted to “reorder” the Jefferson Cluster, calling for reforms that included the elimination of middle schools and single-sex education options for grades 7-12. Community members were invited to participate in the redesign process along side of the district employees and leaders who were responsible for

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Who know public schools best?

Test scores are one way to judge our public schools. But no one likely knows the condition and quality of public schools better than the teachers who work in them every day. Whether these teachers send their own children to public schools more or less frequently than their neighbors may thus be a strong indicator of how good our schools really are.

Now, an analysis of the 2000 U.S. Census Long Form data gives us this answer.* That year, 17.5 percent of all families in the nation’s fifty largest cities sent their kids to private schools, while 21.5 percent of public school teachers did the same.

In the Portland Metropolitan area the disparity was greater.** Here, only 12.7 percent of all families sent their kids to private schools, but 20 percent of public school teachers apparently decided that their children deserved a better school than their districts offered. Doing some basic grade school math shows us that, on average, teachers in the largest cities are 23 percent more likely to send their children to private schools, but inPortland, they are 57 percent more likely to do so.

Those who know our schools best are exercising school choice the most. They know that some schools are better than others. Offering all families comprehensive school choice is long overdue.

* Denis P. Doyle, Brian Diepold and David A. DeSchryver, “Where Do Public School Teachers Send Their Kids to School?”, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, September 7, 2004,
** The Portland Metropolitan area is officially known as the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Approximately 80% of its population is in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia and Yamhill counties in Oregon; the remainder is in Clark and Skamania counties in Washington. About one-third of the cities in the study, including Portland, included nearby suburban areas. Since private school enrollment is generally higher in urban areas, the urban-suburban area results in the study are likely somewhat smaller than if the researchers had been able to find urban-only data for those cities, again, including Portland.

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