Author: nick weller

An alternative to tuition increases

QuickPoint!

The Oregon Board of Higher Education approved a change that allows state universities to charge students based on the number of credits they take. Schools can now raise fees for students taking heavy course loads.

Opponents of the higher fees pointed to the (more…)

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A qualified teacher in every classroom

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A June 22 Oregonian story reported that a significant number of Oregon middle school teachers will probably not meet the definition of “highly qualified,” as outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind act. To meet this requirement teachers must have taken significant coursework, or passed a standardized exam, in their teaching area.

The failure to put qualified teachers in classrooms in Oregon and other states is (more…)

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Productivity and benefits: The missing education links

QuickPoint!

A recent document from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) trumpets that schools have been more effective at “controlling pay” than has the private sector. This line has already been repeated by state legislators, but it is misleading for a variety of reasons.

First, in the private sector increases in wages are a (more…)

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Education freedom advances

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The Oregon State Senate recently advanced education freedom by eliminating mandatory testing of homeschool students, and House members will consider the bill in the coming weeks. If this bill is passed into law, it will treat home education the same as private schools by not subjecting either to government intervention.

Senate Bill 761 passed 20 to 9, but there are (more…)

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Don’t follow Portland school district’s lead

QuickPoint!

The recent deal between the city, county and school district and teachers’ union restored 24 days to the school year, but it is not a model for other cities and school districts to emulate. The city and county’s intervention sidetracked the school board from efforts to control spending and improve education.

Much attention will focus on the failure to (more…)

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New approach to education can reduce achievement gap

QuickPoint!

Oregon education officials recently revealed what many have long known – the public schools have not addressed the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will request a waiver from the portion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that requires schools to make adequate yearly progress for all students, regardless of race or income level.

The ODE is worried that schools will miss (more…)

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An emerging consensus on school spending

QuickPoint!

The intellectual debate about school spending in Oregon is coming to a close. The numbers and analysis in Cascade’s Oregon K-12 Revenue and Expenditures, 1990-2001 were largely confirmed by a report from the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA), done by economic consulting firm ECONorthwest.

Both studies found that (more…)

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A Thanksgiving story to celebrate

QuickPoint!

Most children are taught that Thanksgiving celebrates the Pilgrims’ first harvest and their sharing it with Native Americans. However, this version of the story suffers from serious omissions.

For its first few years the Plymouth plantation organized farming on a communal basis; each person was expected to work as much as they could, and take from common resources only what they needed. With little individual incentive to produce, colonists refused to (more…)

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Flaws in education reform exposed

QuickPoint!

Discontent with Oregon’s education reform is now coming from new areas. Recently the Tigard-Tualatin School Board voted to side with teachers and drop state-required work samples that schools use to assess student learning in a variety of subjects.

Those who question the state’s curriculum and assessment policies correctly see this as a (more…)

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A better direction for special education

QuickPoint!

A recent report by an Oregon legislative task force outlines how the state should improve special education. A number of concerns prompted the task force’s formation. Spending for special education has risen rapidly in the past decade, as documented by a new Cascade Policy Institute study. Significant resources are expended on paperwork and administration and special education programs are driven by (more…)

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Put children, not schools, first

QuickPoint!

The bipartisan No Child Left Behind education bill is unlikely to achieve its stated aims. However, it has helped show that many associated with government schools are more interested in preserving power than improving education.

The new federal law requires school districts to inform (more…)

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Education freedom key to religious liberty

QuickPoint!

The debate surrounding government education and religion took an interesting turn with recent court decisions regarding school vouchers and the Pledge of Allegiance. Together these two decisions provide a template for thinking about how to respect the rights of both the religious and the irreligious within education.

The Bill of Rights limits government’s involvement in (more…)

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Charter school law too restrictive

QuickPoint!

Oregon passed its charter school law to foster educational freedom. The recent negotiations over the Mitch (Multisensory instruction teaching children hands-on) Charter School in Tigard-Tualatin illustrates one of the law’s several flaws.

Charter schools must receive approval from the local school district, a significant (more…)

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Do teacher unions really benefit children?

QuickPoint!

During the recent primary election the Oregon Education Association (OEA) got what it wanted by defeating Ballot Measure 13 and electing Susan Castillo to Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although the OEA’s effectiveness is admirable, it is questionable whether the union’s actions actually improve education.

The OEA is a union and like all unions is (more…)

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School funding waltz: Measure 5, equalization and legislative puppeteering

QuickPoint!

Political candidates and editorial boards across the state blame Measure 5 for centralizing education funding in Salem. Although the initiative did give the state a greater role in school funding, a number of other changes have also furthered state involvement in education.

A case study is the Condon School District in eastern Oregon, which is struggling with budget cuts. Lynn Wilkins, Condon School Board chairman, said, “Prior to Measure 5 passing in 1990, Condon was (more…)

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Black holes in education spending

QuickPoint!

Oregon’s budget crisis is a blessing in disguise for schools. It has helped expand education debates from a myopic focus on total funding to a more useful discussion about spending priorities.

Despite an 11 percent increase in the K-12 education budget from the previous biennium, core education services are (more…)

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Creative solutions for school budgets

QuickPoint!

School districts in Oregon face budget cuts that present opportunities to empower teachers, control costs and direct greater resources to the classroom. Districts should consider the following proposals.

Health care: In the short-term, increasing deductibles and co-payments and limiting the employer contribution are the (more…)

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Education freedom linked to high test scores

QuickPoint!

The Manhattan Institute recently released its 2001 Education Freedom Index, which measures four types of educational freedom: the ability of parents to pursue charter school options, subsidized private schools, public school choice and home-schooling. Oregon ranked 16th, falling 11 places from the previous year. The drop in Oregon’s ranking occurred as other states sailed past Oregon to implement school choice reforms.

According to the report’s author (more…)

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