Category: Education

“Education Does Come First, Doesn’t It?”

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

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“There must be a better answer than killing the online charter school movement,” declares the editorial board of the Medford Mail Tribune (“Education Does Come First, Doesn’t It?,” April 3, 2009). Unfortunately, killing online charter schools would be the likely effect of Senate Bill 767, which had a public hearing last week. And kids in rural Oregon would be some of the biggest losers. (more…)

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Education Tax Credits Can Save Oregon Money

Christina Martin
Cascade Commentary
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Summary: House Bill 2754 would create two education tax credits, one for families’ own out-of-pocket education expenses and another for donations to scholarship-granting organizations for low-income or disabled students. According to a fiscal analysis by Dr. Eric Fruits, HB 2754’s tax credits have potential to save money for the state of Oregon. (more…)

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Fiscal Impacts of Proposed Educational Tax Credits

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Executive summary
Currently, Oregon parents of public school children who need extra tutoring or other assistance are not reimbursed for that expense. In addition, many low-income parents or parents with children with disabilities cannot find public education alternatives that meet their children’s demands and cannot afford educational options available from private schools. In response to these gaps, Cascade Policy Institute proposes two tax credits to help support efforts to make educational opportunities more affordable to Oregon families.
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

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If School Choice Were a TV Show

Kathryn Hickok
QuickPoint!

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From most of the reporting on the subject of school vouchers in the mainstream press and from comments by politicians and teachers’ union officials, you would think by now someone would have premiered a new TV show called “Fear Factor: School Choice.” But the argument that vouchers would make public schools worse is like the monster in the bedroom closet. It isn’t real, but many people are too afraid to open the door to find out. (more…)

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Bailing Out School Choice

QuickPoint!

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The time for an education tax credit is now. As the economy suffers, even more families are struggling to afford the best education for their children. A $1,000 tax credit for your own children’s K-12 education expenses, or for donations to scholarship programs for children in low-income families would ease the burden on many Oregonians in these tough economic times. It would also increase parents’ ability to choose the best education for their children.

One state representative recently commented that considering the anticipated budget shortfall, this would be a terrible time to create an education tax credit. The truth, however, is that the legislature’s priorities lay elsewhere. (more…)

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Win $10,000 for your Children’s K-12 Education!

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

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Do your children attend a private school or a charter school? Do you home school them? Would you like to make such a choice if you could afford it?

Our recent poll found that 87 percent of Oregonians would like more school choices for their children. If you’re one of them, now you can tell everyone (more…)

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Nearly Nine out of Ten Oregonians Would Opt out of Regular Public Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Where do Oregonians send their children to school? Where would they send them if they had the choice?

Right now, 91 percent of Oregon families send their children to a regular public school – usually the one chosen for them based on where they live. But a new public opinion survey reveals that nearly nine out of ten Oregonians would opt out of regular public schools altogether if they could. What schools would they choose? (more…)

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Nearly Nine of Ten Oregonians Would Opt Out of Regular Public Schools

– Survey Results Find Strong Support for School Choice Among Democrats, Independents, Republicans –

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Steve Buckstein
Cascade Policy Institute
Tel.: 503-242-0900
Fax: 503-242-3822
E-mail: steven@cascadepolicy.org

Contact: Joe DiLaura, Director of Communications
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Tel.: 317/229-2128 or 317/645-8614
E-mail: joe@friedmanfoundation.org

Nearly nine out of ten Oregon residents would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate their children in a home school setting if they had the decision-making authority, according to the results of a public opinion survey released (more…)

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Oregon Greenhouse Gas Reduction Policies: The Economic and Fiscal Impact Challenges

Many policymakers in Oregon have concluded that global warming is a crisis, that human use of fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change, and that state policies must be enacted to stabilize the global climate. Because of this, policy initiatives to regulate greenhouse gas emissions are fast becoming a dominant feature of statewide public policy. Oregon has adopted one of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the world. (more…)

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Small Scholarships, Great Impact

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Did you know that in the last ten years, over 600 Oregon children have received a “hand up” in their education through a privately funded scholarship program called the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland? The program’s mission is to maximize educational opportunity for students from Oregon families whose income is low to moderate.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland has a ten-year history of demonstrating (more…)

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Portland Children’s Investment Fund: Taxation Is Not the Same As Charity

John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary

Summary

The proposed renewal of the five-year levy that created the Portland Children’s Investment Fund (PCIF) in 2002 is on the ballot this November. While the non-profits receiving grants from the PCIF may have worthy missions, this program attempts to act like a private charitable foundation without actually being one, raising issues of accountability, among other problems. (more…)

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Private Schools Are “Invaluable,” Says U.S. Dept. of Education

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

The U.S. Department of Education has released a report entitled “Preserving a Critical National Asset: America’s Disadvantaged Students and the Crisis in Faith-based Urban Schools.” Since 1999 nearly 1,200 faith-based urban schools have closed, displacing nearly 425,000 children.

The report states: “[T]he disappearance of these schools is having a tragic (more…)

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Can Pay-for-Performance Work in the Classroom?

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Absent serious structural reforms such as school-level competition, paying for performance in the classroom may be the best way to stimulate higher academic achievement among our K-12 public school students. (more…)

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Paying for Performance to Improve K-12 Student Achievement

Introduction and Executive Summary

This report examines the potential for using performance incentives to improve the K-12 classroom education experience. It uses principles derived from economic theory to identify what type of incentives might work and what form those incentives should take. The limited literature on performance incentive applications in K-12 education is then examined to see if the evidence is consistent with the economic prescriptions. (more…)

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School Choice for More Children, Says Georgia

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Last week Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation enacting a new school choice program for Georgia children. The new law provides for education tax credits on both personal and corporate income taxes for donations made to privately run non-profit Student Scholarship Organizations.

Unlike some other school choice programs nationwide, Georgia’s new law has (more…)

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Only 12% of Idahoans Would Choose a Public School for Their Children

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently released a poll of 1,000 likely voters in Idaho. If they “could select any type of school,” a whopping 12% would choose a “regular public school,” little more than half the number who would choose homeschooling (21%). Private schools were most popular, at 39%, followed by charter schools (25%).

According to the Friedman Foundation, only 4% of (more…)

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Suffer the Little Children: How lack of transparency in a state agency endangers children

Cascade Commentary

Summary

A federal review found Oregon’s Child Welfare program to be in “substantial conformity” with NONE of the national standards for seven client outcome measures. The most important mission of DHS is protecting children from harm. Government transparency requires that DHS meet the benchmarks demanded by Governor Kulongoski and release relevant proof to the public. (more…)

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Kids Can’t Wait

Cascade Commentary

Summary

Why has Governor Ted Kulongoski left at-risk and abused kids waiting during six years of his administration? His rallying cry is “Kids can’t wait,” but a close look at Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare programs uncovers the troubling fact that his administration certainly has allowed many children to wait. (more…)

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How Much Does Oregon Spend Per Student?

Matt WingardCascade Commentary

Summary

Calculating the true per-student cost of public education in Oregon is complicated, but taxpayers have a right to expect government to be transparent about spending and to provide honest figures — calculated from a taxpayer’s perspective. (more…)

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Whose Interests Does the Board of Education Serve?

Matt WingardQuickPoint!

Recently, the Oregon Board of Education took up the issue of whether and how to regulate online or “virtual” charter schools. A state law, passed in 2005 at the request of the teachers union, places severe restrictions on virtual charter schools that would essentially prevent them from operating without a waiver from the Board. The law gives the Board the power to set the conditions under which any online charter school can operate.

After much deliberation, the Board decided last week to (more…)

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The Hidden $6.2 BILLION Oregon PERS Liability

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Summary

A recent study of public sector retirement funds by The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States found that “Oregon currently has the best-funded pension system in the country.” This claim for Oregon’s $50-plus billion system is only technically true if we leave out the liabilities generated by $6.2 billion in pension obligation bonds issued to help reduce PERS rates. (more…)

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No Love for Charter Schools

Matt WingardQuickPoint!

The Portland Public School Board recently denied all four requests from charter school applicants who wanted to offer more options for Portland children in the 2008-09 school year.

The Willamette Week described the meeting this way:

Charter schools got no love Monday night from Portland Public Schools’ Board of Education. The board unanimously rejected four new charter applications in a two-hour smackdown that (more…)

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The Public Knows Something Is Wrong with Education … and It’s Not Lack of Money

Matt WingardQuickPoint!

Contrary to what the interest groups who run our public education system keep saying, the general public understands their schools aren’t all that they could be. A recent nationwide poll of 1,000 adults by The Economist Magazine reveals an interesting picture of how voters feel about public education.

Only 13% say “Too little money” is the most important problem (more…)

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The Truth About Saint Nicholas

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Do you believe in Santa Claus? By the time many people think they are too old to believe in Santa Claus, they have unwittingly come to believe in another one—a figurative Santa Claus that goes by the name of “welfare state,” or “big government.” But Santa would be insulted by the comparison.

The real Santa Claus is (more…)

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School Choice Equals Confidence and Success

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

In 1999 local Oregon donors pledged one million dollars to begin the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland. This program, unique in Oregon, enables children from low- income families to attend the K-12 schools their parents think are best for them. Local donations are matched by the national Children’s Scholarship Fund, which has helped over 86,000 children nationwide get a hand-up in life through education.

For nine school years CSF-Portland has proven that (more…)

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Are Government Schools Safer Than Private Ones?

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Last summer the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation released a study entitled “Disruptive Behavior: An Empirical Evaluation of School Misconduct and Market Accountability.” Researchers examined the cases of employee misconduct in both public and private schools in the 12 states that have school choice policies.

Some opponents of school choice argue that private schools are not as “accountable” as public schools because they are not subject to all the same regulations as public schools.

This is not true. (more…)

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Oregon schools get more money, but most isn’t for students

Jeffrey CarlsonQuickPoint!

The Oregon Legislature recently passed a 6.2 billion dollar budget for K-12 education for the 2007-2009 biennium, a 14 percent increase over the last two years and the largest in Oregon history. This funding will enable some districts to expand music and physical education programs, and decrease class sizes. However, over half of the additional funds will be used to pay for rapidly rising health-care costs and teachers’ salaries. These funds come without any state mandate for school districts to prove they are using their money efficiently.

Parents’ calls for school spending accountability seem to have fallen on (more…)

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Cancel the Apocalypse: School Funding is Up (Again)

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The conventional wisdom in Oregon is that we’ve been “disinvesting” in public schools during the past decade. Portland Public Schools were lampooned in Doonsbury a few years back, and the number of portable classrooms in suburban districts is supposedly proof that we face an educational funding crisis.

There’s just one thing wrong with this image: it’s completely wrong. Tax spending for schools has been going up for years. But many journalists are so used to repeating the dominant story line that they can’t (more…)

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School Choice Saves Children and Money

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Last week the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation released a landmark study showing that the twelve school choice programs currently operating around the country have saved state and local budgets a net of $444 million dollars since 1990.

“School choice saves,” said Robert Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation. “It saves children, and now we have empirical evidence that it saves money. In the face of $444 million in savings, another excuse to deny children a quality education has vanished before our eyes.”

Critics of school choice often claim that (more…)

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School Choice Should Be about Students, Not Buildings

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The mix of traditional school closures, charter school openings, and transfers out of neighborhood schools in Portland is prompting some serious debate about school choice. The district has now surveyed transferring students and found that very few did so because they were dissatisfied with their neighborhood schools. Many simply wanted other choices, like special programs not offered close to home.

But is Portland’s relatively liberal transfer policy undermining some (more…)

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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 (more…)

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New Study Shows that Selling the Elliott State Forest Could Double the Common School Fund

For immediate release, March 19, 2007

Cascade Policy Institute released a report today calling for a new management strategy on the Elliott State Forest, including the possible sale to private parties. The study, entitled “Another Option for School Funding: Selling the Elliott State Forest,” was authored by Cascade President John A. Charles, Jr. (more…)

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Real Leadership is More than Just Tilting at Windmills

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

On Monday, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman signed the nation’s first universal school voucher law. The program will allow nearly every family in the state to have a choice in their child’s education, fulfilling Milton Friedman’s vision that he first articulated in 1955.

The new law will provide nearly every Utah parent with (more…)

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Luddites against Internet learning

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon’s charter school law requires 50 percent of online charter school students to live within the district that charters that school. Why should the state of Oregon impose such an artificial barrier on the power of the Internet to help kids learn?

History teaches us how the fear of change almost stopped progress. Remember the Luddites in early nineteenth-century England? They were (more…)

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Sustainability without education won’t work

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 (more…)

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School district Berlin Walls

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

How many of us remember the scenes of young East Germans risking their lives to escape under, over or around the Berlin Wall? Happily, those memories are fading since the wall came down in 1989. Unhappily, young people right here in America are still taking risks to escape our own closed systems — our public school districts.

Often, these are inner-city kids who use false addresses to (more…)

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Big Money doesn’t help Small Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The biggest private foundation in the world is pouring millions of dollars into creating some of America’s smallest high schools. Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are being used in Oregon and around the country to break up large high schools, creating small schools-within-schools designed to improve student learning.

The small schools concept seems sound, but it now appears that (more…)

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Who should pay for your college education?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians have nixed a sales tax nine times at the ballot box, yet at the December 9th Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland some business and political leaders were getting ready to try again. They proposed reducing state income taxes in return for a new sales tax.

Governor-elect Kulongoski and other leaders said (more…)

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A Teachable Moment: Leveraging Oregon’s School Trust Lands

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Oregon owns a billion dollars worth of agricultural and timber land that is supposed to be generating funds for public schools. Much of it is in eastern and southwestern Oregon, and was deeded to Oregon from the federal government at the time of statehood in 1859. By law, these lands must be managed to generate maximum revenue for schools over the long term.

Unfortunately, the lands only earn (more…)

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Oregon Charter School Report Card: The history, progress and future of charter schools in Oregon

School Choice Project

INTRODUCTION
by Steve Buckstein

In 1991, two distinct educational reform paths took off in Oregon. That was the year Cascade Policy Institute was founded, with education as a chief policy priority. It was also the year that the Oregon Legislature passed the “Oregon Education Act for the 21st Century,” known informally as “The Katz Bill” after then-House Speaker Vera Katz.

Cascade’s efforts, often described under the broad category of “school choice,” identified an inflexible system as the main problem facing (more…)

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Everyone Suffers Until No One Suffers

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Portland Public School District is going through a painful process of closing some schools while converting others from K-5th grade into K-8th grade schools. These changes are driven primarily by the district’s shrinking enrollment and the belief that eliminating middle schools will boost student achievement.

But another reason for one school closure stands out as (more…)

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Dr. Howard Fuller — Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Cascade Policy Institute present highlights from a speech by Dr. Howard Fuller: Stop Leaving Most Children Behind — Why School Choice is Your Right. Presented May 23, 2006, in Portland, Oregon. (more…)

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Dr. Howard Fuller — Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Cascade Policy Institute present highlights from a speech by Dr. Howard Fuller: Stop Leaving Most Children Behind — Why School Choice is Your Right. Presented May 23, 2006, in Portland, Oregon. (more…)

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The School Soda Scam

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The American Beverage Association announced last week that it has worked with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to develop guidelines for the sale of healthier drinks in schools. The guidelines cap the number of calories available in beverages in schools at 100 per container, except for certain milks and juices, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.

While this is being marketed as a (more…)

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Stop leaving most children behind

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

While most Portlanders are focused on the Portland Public School District’s financial woes and plans to close more schools, a new group is beginning to question why the district even deserves to control where their kids go to school.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is a national organization dedicated to empowering parents to find (more…)

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

Jefferson High School

Introduction

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 (more…)

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Report Details Decades of Failure at Jefferson High School

Critics Charge Portland Public Schools with Sub-Standard Education

This report was recently covered by both the Oregonian and the Portland Tribune.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Portland, OR) — Low test scores and a shocking lack of academic progress in the Jefferson Cluster (Portland’s Jefferson High School and the middle schools and elementary schools that feed into Jefferson) point to necessary educational reforms, according to a report released today by Portland members of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the Cascade Policy Institute. (more…)

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Report Details Decades of Failure at Jefferson High School

Critics Charge Portland Public Schools with Sub-Standard Education

This report was recently covered by both the Oregonian and the Portland Tribune.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Portland, OR) — Low test scores and a shocking lack of academic progress in the Jefferson Cluster (Portland’s Jefferson High School and the middle schools and elementary schools that feed into Jefferson) point to necessary educational reforms, according to a report released today by Portland members of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the Cascade Policy Institute. (more…)

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Suing for Schools — Part II

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon’s school funding debate has entered a new phase. Last week several school districts and parents sued the state and key legislators demanding more money be spent on public education.

This new lawsuit goes beyond (more…)

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Time to Sell Off the University System?

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Kirby Dyess, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education, stunned her colleagues last week by suggesting that the board sell or close one of Oregon’s seven state universities. The proposal was made in response to ongoing financial problems with the higher education system, caused largely by the skyrocketing cost of employee health insurance and retirement benefits.

None of her fellow board members voted to support the (more…)

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Suing for Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

If you can’t convince legislators to spend more money on the public school system any other way, you can always sue them.

Oregon School Funding Defense Foundation has been formed to do just that. It plans to sue the state of Oregon demanding that it (more…)

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Public Schools: They’re Not Really Public

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

One of the biggest challenges for parents is deciding where to live in order to ensure a decent education for their kids. They can guess which neighborhoods have the best public schools, but if they guess wrong, it’s not that easy to just buy another home. This leads to large-scale gaming of the system by parents, who frequently send their kids to live with relatives or rent an apartment near the preferred school while maintaining their “real” home elsewhere.

The Portland school district is cracking down (more…)

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Another School Choice Hurdle

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last week the Florida Supreme Court threw out the state’s “Opportunity Scholarships” that allowed students in failing public schools to attend other public or private schools of their choice. The Court ruled that the state constitution “uniformity clause” was apparently violated by allowing students to attend schools that weren’t just like the ones they left. The result of this decision will be (more…)

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End the CIM-CAM Flim Flam

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo decided last week that a key element of the state’s long-running school reform experiment should be scrapped. The Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) was supposed to demonstrate that 10th graders had mastered a certain degree of knowledge from their first ten years of schooling. It was earned by taking tests in basic subjects and completing classroom work samples. The 12th grade Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) was never even implemented.

Cascade Policy Institute and others have opposed (more…)

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The 65 percent solution

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Can states solve their public education problems by directing a higher percentage of spending into the classroom? That’s the goal of a nationwide movement known as “the 65 percent solution.” It aims to pass a law in every state requiring school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their operating budgets in classrooms “for the benefit of teachers and kids.”

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Oregon spends (more…)

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Katrina’s children

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Hurricane Katrina’s 372,000 displaced school children have become pawns in a political game they never signed up for. While scores of public, private and religious schools have taken them in, the question before Congress is whether to reimburse all host schools, or just the public ones.

Louisiana’s Republican and Democrat Senators want (more…)

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How Not to Fight Meth

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregon recently became the first state to require prescriptions for medications whose ingredients can be used to produce methamphetamine. While legislative motives were no doubt good, we now know that this law will likely backfire.

The Oregonian just reported that, according to (more…)

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The $13,000 Student

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

It’s not hard to understand why many parents and students believe that Oregon’s public school system needs more money. They see crowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and shrinking course options. What they don’t see is all the money that isn’t getting down to the classroom.

Take, for example, the Portland Public School System. This year its general fund spending is (more…)

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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,
http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2004/200409_wheredopublic/Fwd-1.1.pdf
 
** 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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Charter School: Better Results for Less

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Many public school supporters blame poor academic results on stingy taxpayers. On July 8, more evidence was released showing that funding is not the problem. Arthur Academy, a public charter school in the David Douglas School District near Portland, just announced amazing achievement results.

In business just two years, Arthur Academy saw (more…)

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Found: 162 million education dollars

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

People who argue that Oregon’s public schools need more tax dollars lost another battle this month. Our Secretary of State just released an analysis of spending on school district support services.

In 2001, the latest year for which nationwide data is available, Oregon spent (more…)

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Choosing children over teachers unions

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

While the D.C. school system spends more per pupil than most US cities, its student test scores are the lowest in the country. Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised a new federal voucher law granting up to $7,500 to low-income children in the District of Columbia to attend private schools.

Research shows that school choice can (more…)

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Truth in taxation and an educated, active citizenry

QuickPoint!

Various groups are organizing tax reform meetings throughout the state. The big question: How do we “fix” Oregon’s tax system. In reality, the goal is more like: How do we increase taxes?

Let’s assume the best of intentions — momentarily. Common sense tells us, before we start fixing something we should have (more…)

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The myth of under-investment in public schools

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Sharon Kitzhaber was interviewed for the Dec. 24, 2003 Willamette Week. The former First Lady of Oregon said her son Logan attends the private French-American school. When asked why she chose a private school, she responded in part by claiming that Oregonians have “under-invested” in their government schools.

This raises the question: What, exactly, does (more…)

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Improving Public Schools Requires Changing the System

Despite reform efforts, school performance is improving slowly, if at all, and continues to be very inequitable between racial and income groups. Though the causes are typically presumed to be located within the classroom, the system itself perpetuates inequity and poor performance. This paper proposes two systemic changes: allow funding to follow children to the school their parents choose and remove the exclusive franchise of school districts, thereby allowing multiple providers of public education within one geographic region. Together these changes would provide the framework for an education system that offers students and professionals a wide range of opportunity and freedom to pursue success. (more…)

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Who’s responsible for your children’s education?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Who is responsible for your children’s education? One hundred fifty years ago the answer would have been obvious, parents were responsible. Today, that answer is much more debatable.

Two years ago a Portland Public Schools board member proclaimed (more…)

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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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Lincoln County schools clean up

QuickPoint!

Salem-Keizer School District board members just learned that they could have reduced expenses $2 million a year by contracting out bus services to a private company. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately, the district committee that studied the private bids did not notify the school board about the potential savings; rather, it recommended (more…)

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A qualified teacher in every classroom

QuickPoint!

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

QuickPoint!

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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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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Victory for school choice!

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling that low-income children in Cleveland can use publicly funded vouchers, worth up to $2,250 per child, to attend secular or religious private schools. The decision makes good on the promise made nearly 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education. The message from the High Court is that parents of all income levels have the right to choose the safest and best schools for their children.

Wealthier families can already (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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Defuse drug testing debate through school choice

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Oregon Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court heard similar cases last week about the constitutionality of drug tests in school.

Here in Oregon, sixteen year old Ginelle Weber and her parents object to Oakridge High School’s random drug tests for athletes. The federal case involves (more…)

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Universities can flourish without Salem

QuickPoint!

The Oregon University System will sustain an additional $27.2 million in budget cuts, announced Governor Kitzhaber last week. The budget crunch should prompt universities to seek independence from budgeting decisions in Salem. One school may have a unique opportunity that could be instructive for the others.

A philanthropist offered the Oregon Institute of Technology a $100 million endowment to enable the school to (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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